Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deal W. Hudson

6/27/2008 (6 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 (6 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

North Carolina's Tillis stumbles during televised debate Watch

Image of While Thom Tillis has a dominant lead among whites (50 percent to Kay Hagan's 37), he is getting trounced among black voters: just seven percent are in his camp, compared with 83 percent for Hagan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Congressional candidate State Legislature Speaker Thom Tillis stumbled badly during a televised debate with his Democratic rival Senator Kay Hagen earlier this month. During the televised debate on October 7, Tillis appeared at a loss for words when it came to ... continue reading


Houston: First Amendment Does not apply to Christian ministers? Interview with Keith Fournier Watch

Image of As at the tower of Babel, the confusion spreads until no progress is possible.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Houston officials fired a shot across the bow of Christian ministers, pastors and priests who they think may be encouraging their congregations to oppose the city's controversial "bathroom bill." The request is chilling and violates the First Amendment, but it also ... continue reading


New York law strips 34,500 law-abiding citizens of their lawful right to bear arms with ZERO due process Watch

Image of A New York law could be too restrictive and features virtually no due process.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A New York law may be infringing on the rights of many Americans and undermining mental health efforts in that state. The law, known as the Safe Act, requires, as part of its implementation, for mental health professionals to report the names of any people who could be ... continue reading


Why build a school when you can buy a senator! North Carolina race tops $100 million

Image of America is no longer for sale, it has already been bought.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The nation's most expensive Senate race in history is topping $100 million as the entire nation looks to a critical election in North Carolina. The money poured into the race reveals that elections are coming down to money and outside influencers have substantial ... continue reading


167,000 convicted criminal immigrants walk free within the United States Watch

Image of Deportations from the interior of the United States declined 34 percent this year from last.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

With both Islamic State and Ebola posing an imminent threat to the United States through people entering the country illegally, it's distressing to note just how lax the nation's deportation laws have become. According to Breitbart, there remain nearly 167,000 ... continue reading


Obama is advancing 'brutal program' of forced abortions in China, lawmaker says Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama and his administration are not only ignoring China's totalitarian edict of "one family, one child" policy but are advancing the "brutal program." That's the words of Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J., who) spoke at the Heritage ... continue reading


Four Kurdish terrorists slipped across Obama's open Mexican border, Homeland Security chief admits Watch

Image of Four members the Kurdistan Workers' Party, known as the PKK, were arrested in September trying to enter the United States illegally from Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The bad news: Four known Kurdish terrorists crossed into the United States. This has been confirmed by Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. The good news: Johnson says that the four were not affiliated with Islamic States. Which is good news, of a sort. ... continue reading


Evangelical tells faithful not to vote for politicians who support homosexual marriage, abortion Watch

Image of An outspoken evangelical, Pastor Jim Garlow played a major role in organizing Christian groups in support of California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in California stood before his congregation of more than 2,000 and warned his audience against voting for a candidate in who supports gay marriage and abortion. This includes candidates who are republican, including Carl ... continue reading


Obama aides knew more than they let on in 2012 Colombian prostitution scandal Watch

Image of White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Wednesday that President Obama and his advisers did not interfere with the inspector general's investigation.

By Catholic Online - (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Obama aides were given information that suggested that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member. The 2012 incident was quickly swept under the rug - but more details have since come to light. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


One in five Americans now on food stamps Watch

Image of For more than two years, the number of Americans receiving food stamps has remained above 46 million.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

More than a sixth of all Americans are on food stamps for the 35 straight month in a row, data from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Since September of 2011 through July 2014, more than 46 million Americans have ... continue reading


All Politics & Policy News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:12-22
12 do not forget, I say, that you were at that time ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
35 'See that you have your belts done up and your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2014 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter