Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

6/27/2008 (7 years ago)

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

"There's no way to nuance this: Barack Obama's record puts him on the extreme wing of the abortion movement."

The stark reality of Senator Obama's strong support of the current approach to abortion on demand, his endorsement by organizations which promote abortion, his failure to even back a ban on Partial Birth Abortion are making many Catholics pause and reflect on whether they can support his candidacy. Even Catholics who are unhappy with the alternative and hungering for major change.

The stark reality of Senator Obama's strong support of the current approach to abortion on demand, his endorsement by organizations which promote abortion, his failure to even back a ban on Partial Birth Abortion are making many Catholics pause and reflect on whether they can support his candidacy. Even Catholics who are unhappy with the alternative and hungering for major change.

Highlights

By Deal W. Hudson

Inside Catholic (www.insidecatholic.com)

6/27/2008 (7 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy


WASHINGTON, DC (Inside Catholic) - For the past six months, I have commented regularly on Barack Obama's outreach to Catholic voters.

Looking over what I have written, I realized that taken together these articles serve as a one-stop reference for Catholics who want to know where Obama stands on the non-negotiable Catholic issues.

Before I get to the problems with the senator's candidacy, let me say that Obama strikes me as a likable man with a great deal of personal charisma. I'm making a case against his political positions, and not against him personally. That's an important distinction to keep in mind.

With that said, there's no way to nuance this: Barack Obama's record puts him on the extreme wing of the abortion movement, and has already been labeled by one critic as the "infanticide candidate." Despite this, polls show Obama gaining traction with Catholic voters, and Catholics in general are trending toward the Democratic Party.

Barack Obama's stances on life and marriage issues are simply antithetical to Catholic social teaching. From the beginning of his candidacy, this has been Obama's greatest vulnerability in attracting Catholic voters ("Why Barack Obama Will Not Win the Catholic Vote," 1/7/08). In the primary fight against Hillary Clinton, for example, Catholic resistance to Obama's candidacy was obvious from the election numbers.

Only with the departure of Senator Clinton from the campaign has Obama picked up steam with Catholic voters. Clinton will surely use her clout with Catholics to help the Democratic nominee, which will help break down the resistance of blue-collar white Catholics to an Obama candidacy.

Obama's breakthrough moment with Catholics came with the surprising endorsement of Prof. Doug Kmiec, a well-known pro-life Catholic jurist who served under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Kmiec's reasons for supporting him echo those of Obama Catholics in general -- the positions of the GOP on the war in Iraq, poverty, health care, and immigration are so objectionable that they feel justified in supporting Obama .

Kmiec's position has been picked up by various Obama-friendly organizations devoted to influencing Catholic voters.Their strategy is obvious: Obama's Catholics will do everything they can to avoid the infanticide question -- along with all that it symbolizes -- and will try to foster a moral equivalence between their positions on prudential matters and the non-negotiable life issues.

The debate among Catholics, then, is whether this list of prudential policy issues trumps the obligation taught by the Church toward protecting unborn life and families based upon the marriage of a man and a woman.

In the past two national elections, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of Catholics who voted for the GOP. Exit polling suggested life and family issues made the biggest difference.

But in 2008, the Iraq War has destabilized the dynamics of the Catholic vote -- the steady migration of Catholics out of the Democratic Party to the GOP has stopped. Many Catholic voters are just too angry at Bush and the GOP over Iraq.

Oddly, when Obama's list of high-profile Catholic supporters was announced, Kmiec's name was not on it. That may have been due to the fact that nearly all of the 25 governors, senators, and congressmen on the list had a 100 percent pro-abortion voting record from NARAL.

It's very likely Kmiec was asked to serve on the advisory council, but may have demurred when he saw the list of solidly pro-abortion Catholics. Former White House speechwriter Bill McGurn called them "NARAL Catholics" in a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, made national news when he called for the disbanding of Obama's Catholic committee because its membership was so overwhelmingly pro-abortion. One of its members, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), had just been warned by her bishop, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, to refrain from taking communion.

Interestingly enough, not long after Donohue's appeal, all references to Obama's National Catholic Advisory Council disappeared from the campaign's web site. Perhaps the campaign realized that branding Obama's Catholic outreach with a Who's Who of pro-abortion Catholics was not a good idea, especially after the warning shot fired by the bishop of Kansas City.

The last thing the Obama campaign wants is a replay of 2004, when John Kerry was dogged by story after story of bishops who said they would deny communion to politicians who obstinately support abortion rights.

Several bishops have already shown their willingness to address this issue publicly in 2008. In addition to the statement of Archbishop Naumann, Boston archbishop Sean O'alley said in an interview last November that Catholic support for Democrat pro-abortion candidates "borders on scandal as far I am concerned."

Various pro-Obama Catholic organizations are working effectively to draw attention away from their candidate's weaknesses on fundamental issues. They are well-funded and led by people with extensive experience in the Democratic Party and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

They are not shy about selling their candidate through official channels. For example, pro-Obama e-mails are now regularly sent to the executive directors of state Catholic conferences (several have been forwarded to me).

Probably the most sustained drumbeat of Obama's Catholic circle will be their support for building a "Culture of Life" in spite of their candidate's position on abortion and infanticide. They will argue that reducing poverty and improving health care, among other things, will bring down the number of abortions more effectively than passing laws outlawing the procedure.

In response to this, Catholic voters should be reminded of what Archbishop Chaput said to Obama's Catholics. On May 19 he rebuked a group called Roman Catholics for Obama who quoted him out of context to justify voting for the pro-abortion nominee. The group had seized upon the following quote: "Catholics can vote for pro-choice candidates if they vote for them despite -- not because of -- their pro-choice views."

Roman Catholics for Obama deliberately left out the paragraph following where Chaput added that he could think of no "proportionate reason" to support abortion. "It's the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them face to face in the next life -- which we most certainly will."

Archbishop Chaput also pointed out that the emperor had no clothes when it came to Obama's candidacy benefitting a culture of life. He himself was a politically active Democrat as a young man at the time when Catholic politicians began invoking the "personally opposed to abortion" mantra. Chaput writes:

"For most, their personal opposition was little more than pious hand wringing and a convenient excuse -- exactly as it is today. In fact, I can't name any "pro-choice" Catholic politician who has been active, in a sustained public way, in trying to discourage abortion and to protect unborn human life -- not one."

Likewise, if Obama is elected, he has pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act during his first week in office, making it difficult for Catholic supporters of Obama to keep a straight face when talking about a culture of life.


Deal W. Hudson is the director of InsideCatholic.com and the author of Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States (Simon and Schuster, March 2008).

---

The mission of InsideCatholic.com is to be a voice for authentic Catholicism in the public square.We believe that truth is both attractive and compelling and that in the marketplace of ideas, it will invariably win out.



Comments


More Politics & Policy

Trump, Sanders win with commanding leads in New Hampshire - but what happens next? Watch

Image of Trump and Sanders easily won the New Hampshire primary with large margins.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Both Trump and Sanders are riding high this morning following stunning victories in New Hampshire. Republicans reported massive turnout, shattering any previous turnout record. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - The New Hampshire primary has finished with Donald ... continue reading


Deal with the Devil or practical politics? Is there a pro-life case for Bernie Sanders? Watch

Image of Would a pro-life strategy that involves Bernie Sanders be a deal with the devil, or a practical strategy?

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A lot of Catholics like Bernie Sanders. Recently, we saw an outpouring of support of the candidate in the comments under an excellent article written by Deacon Keith Fournier. Many Catholics appreciate Sander's stance on some social issues - after all, he is a ... continue reading


Bernie Sanders surprises many with sudden surge in New Hampshire Watch

Image of Maintaining a low profile for presidential candidate Bernie sanders is more difficult now, as he comes to the forefront. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Seen by many as a humble Senator with big ideas, the relatively unknown, until recently, Bernie Sanders seemed at first to pose no threat to Hilary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in the 2016 presidential race. That has changed noticeably - Sanders is ... continue reading


What's going on with the New Hampshire primary? Watch

Image of New Hampshire kicked off the primaries this year and so far Bernie Sanders is in the lead (iStock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The first votes have been cast in the New Hampshire primary. In keeping with tradition, the voting began at midnight, as it has for every primary since 1960.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Today marks the beginning of an exciting political shift in the ... continue reading


CURTAIN CALLED: GOP debate starts hilariously as candidates fail to appear on cue Watch

Image of When candidates Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush's names were announced, the two men were still blocking their way. Sneaking past, Jeb grinned and bumped Donald Trump. Photo courtesy of ABC News.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

It is a bit trivial to say about such an important event - but the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire this weekend could have done with a bit more rehearsal. Candidate Ben Carson came out too early, Donald Trump stood with Carson, and candidates Marco ... continue reading


'Faith is the great cure for fear': Obama speaks at annual National Prayer Breakfast in WA Watch

Image of At the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Obama spoke against Muslim stereotypes and hatred (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

During the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President Barack Obama spoke of God, fear and love. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At the breakfast, both Democrats and republicans set aside their differences to build relationships based on their ... continue reading


After Iowa fail, Donald Trump vows to 'beat the ____ out of ISIS' Watch

Image of Many noted that Donald Trump seemed unusually subdued in New Hampshire. He claimed that he remained optimistic after his second place finish in the Iowa primary. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

While he faced defeat in the Iowa caucuses, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump was full of his usual bluster in New Hampshire. Never one to mince words, he vowed to "beat the ___ out of ISIS" if he was elected president. LOS ANGELS, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


'Ted Cruz didn't win Iowa, he stole it': Trump furiously rants on Twitter about Cruz's win demanding a new Iowa 'election' Watch

Image of Donald Trump calls for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results (Reuters).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When news of the Cruz campaign "mistake" concerning Ben Carson at the Iowa caucus reached Donald Trump, he was furious. The business tycoon took to Twitter to call for a new election or to nullify Cruz's results. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Despite his initial ... continue reading


Republican Candidate Drops Out of Presidential Race: But who was it? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Following a disappointing show in the Iowa caucus, with only 4.5 percent of the votes, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "It's been an incredible honor to run a principled campaign ... continue reading


Political sabotage: Ted Cruz pleads GUILTY to wronging Ben Carson at Iowa caucus Watch

Image of Ted Cruz admitted his campaign started the lie that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race prior to the Iowa caucus (NY Times).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a shocking admission, Ted Cruz admits his staff spread rumors of Ben Carson dropping out of the runnings just before the Iowa caucus voting began. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As previously reported, the Iowa caucus was filled with surprises that included ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:1-9
1 Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 18-19
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-15
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why is it that we and the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 12th, 2016 Image

St. Buonfiglio Monaldo
February 12: He was one of seven Florentines who had joined ... Read More