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Obama is Alienating Catholic Voters

Catholics make up about a quarter of the American electorate and have backed the popular-vote winner in every presidential election since 1972. That track record continued through 2008: While weekly churchgoing Catholics slightly favored Sen. John McCain, Catholics as a whole backed President Barack Obama by a margin of 54 to 45 percent.

Given the role Catholics played in Obama’s 2008 victory and their habit of picking presidential winners, you might think that an embattled president with a 40-percent approval rating would be working overtime to solidify his support among this crucial voting bloc. Instead, Obama seems intent on convincing Catholics that their faith in him was unwarranted.

While other voters have been disappointed by Obama’s economic failures and arrogant, ham-handed approach to everything from health care reform to the Solyndra scandal, swing-voting Catholics have special reason to feel betrayed. A candidate who won their support by pledging to respect the religiously grounded views of those with whom he disagrees has morphed into a president whose administration relentlessly attacks religious liberty.

In the past year, Obama’s Justice Department has argued in court that defenders of traditional marriage — the most visible segment of which are observant Catholics and bishops — should be regarded in law as the equivalent of racists. His National Labor Relations Board has issued rulings against two Catholic schools, St. Xavier University in Chicago and Manhattan College in New York, saying that they are not sufficiently Catholic to warrant religious exemptions from federal labor law —a stunning breach of the precedent in which religious bodies, not government officials, decide who qualifies as a member of a particular church. Those rulings followed on the heels of a highly publicized crusade by Obama’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to punish North Carolina’s Belmont Abbey College for removing contraception coverage from its employee health plans, a move the Catholic school made to conform to church doctrine.

And just last week, Obama’s Justice Department argued before the Supreme Court for the effective gutting of the longstanding “ministerial exception” that allows religious bodies to hire and fire employees without government interference. The administration’s extreme position has drawn criticism from nearly every major religious organization in the country, from the liberal National Council of Churches to the conservative National Association of Evangelicals, all of whom fear that their churches could be the next targets of an overzealous, First-Amendment-trampling Uncle Sam.

Among Catholics, the most egregious example of Obama’s broken promise of religious tolerance is the one dominating diocesan headlines now: His administration’s push for a mandate that would require Catholic institutions to violate the teachings of their church by covering contraceptives in their health care plans — including sterilization and drugs that induce abortions.

The mandate would be controversial even if accompanied by the standard religious exemption that allows faith-based organizations to opt out of government regulations that violate their religious beliefs. But the Obama administration has gone a step further, by crafting a religious exemption for the mandate so narrow that it excludes nearly all Catholic hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities and charitable organizations — virtually everyone, it seems, except Catholic parishes and religious orders. The upshot: Catholic colleges that teach abortion is evil must pay for abortifacient drugs for their students and Catholic hospitals that refuse to sterilize patients must subsidize sterilization for their employees.

The mandate and its lack of conscience protection is a blatant attack on religious freedom and a far cry from the promise Obama made at the University of Notre Dame in 2009. Back then, when the president was peddling his health care plan and pledging to seek “common ground” with pro-life Catholics, he vowed to “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause.” Now that Obamacare has passed, the president and his surrogates are singing a different tune.

“We are in a war,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a NARAL Pro-Choice America crowd in Chicago last week.

Sebelius followed her martial rhetoric with a sarcastic swipe at pro-lifers who fail to see church-funded contraception as a cure-all for America’s astronomical abortion rates. Apparently, the secretary has not read the 2011 Guttmacher Institute report that found a majority of women who abort their babies were using contraception the month they conceived.

Obama displays a similarly dismissive attitude toward his pro-life and Catholic critics. At a fundraiser here in St. Louis last week, he offered a flippant “darn tooting” rejoinder to an audience member who called out support for his unyielding enforcement of the contraceptive mandate. He answered a recent invitation to dialogue from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops President and New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan with stony silence. And he has ignored pleas for compromise from the likes of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins and Catholic Health Association President Sr. Carol Keehan, two former Obama cheerleaders who now look like Obama’s dupes.

The president’s hard-line, anti-freedom stance threatens to alienate millions of Catholics, including many who disagree with their church’s teachings but resent the prospect of government officials dictating which doctrines Catholic institutions may follow and which ones they must violate. For these voters and millions of their fellow travelers of other faiths, Obama’s election in 2008 is looking more and more like a mistake — one they do not intend to repeat in 2012.


Colleen Carroll Campbell is a St. Louis-based author, former presidential speechwriter and television and radio host of "Faith & Culture" on EWTN. Her website is www.colleen-campbell.com and her latest book is My Sisters the Saints: A Spiritual Memoir. This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and is used by permission of the author. 


  • Theodore Kobernick

    There can be no compromise with Obama. As your article documents, anyone who believes his declaration of war against Christ and Christians, will prove to be the same kind of fool as Neville Chamberlain, who thought he had successfully compromised with Hitler. “Peace in our time” said the gullible Prime Minister. Ha!

    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

    Do Jesus’ words in John 8:44 apply here? “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    Thank you for your fine article, Colleen.

  • Theodore Kobernick

    p.s. Apologies. I meant “anyone who FAILS to believe his declaration of war against Christ and Christians” is fooling her/himself.

  • goral

    Obama catholics were not fooled the first time, they were willing accomplices. They will stand with him and catholics Biden and Pelosi again. These are the compassionate, casserole catholics who are not even smart enough to realize that the arrogant one is using them for the wash cloths that they are.

    A line from a Western: “If they were not made to be sheared, He would not have made them sheep”

  • Theodore Kobernick

    Goral — Sheared, yes. But butchered?

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    I wish I could say Catholics had voted for Obama out of invincible ignorance, that it wasn’t our fault, because we were misled and had no way to know.

    Well, we were misled by Obama but our ignorance was more deliberate (and culpable) than invincible. I think the reasons were complex but at the root, Catholics were blinded by their sin – the refusal to obey Church authority on matters such as contraception, the hierarchy, the importance of Reconciliation, and probably other things. Cafeteria Catholicism is what put Obama in the White House.

    If we were not blinded by sin, we would have had a much clearer perception of the truth, and Obama would have stood out as the liar he is.

  • raymondnicholas

    I wish this view accurately reflected Catholic opinion but I believe that it does not. When it comes to politics, Catholics do not practice their Faith. Time and time again, we read that Catholic opinion is on par with the secular society and that what Catholics profess is not what they practice.

    How can someone claim to be Catholic and vote for politicians that are clearly anti-Catholic on all the major points? I think it is because of what Catholics have become. We live within a divided Church, one that has a left, middle, and right when it comes to teaching and practicing the Word of Christ. Catholics vote the same way, which is, left, middle, and right.

    Following are the kinds of Catholics that I see and read about, the kind that could easily be duped by an Obama type:

    I see naive Catholics who deny the schism, who believe that all Catholics think and act the same when it comes to the Faith and applying it in real life. I see Catholics who lack the courage to speak out forthrightly when they see Catholics err (repeatedly and materially in public) and say we should not be too harsh on them. I see Catholics who are very ignorant of their Faith and too lazy to study and learn as adults, and who do not practice the Faith and pass it on to their children. I see Catholic ideologues, priests and nuns, who are blinded to the Church’s teachings, who pride themselves on being well known and honored among men rather than humbly submit to their vows and who care less about sending all souls to Heaven. I see very stupid Catholics who rationalize they can separate their Faith from their day-to-day living, and believe there is no consequence to their actions, no wrongful behavior or sin.

    Obama is not alienating anyone. He is simply cementing the divide that now exists between Catholics who uphold the Church’s teachings on faith and morals and those who do not. However, unlike the secular middle, the Catholic wishy-washy middle will always go left.

  • goral

    Yes, T.K., you said it. The butchers are already in charge. After the sweaters come sheepskins and lamb chops. The enemy is already salivating at the prospects of indicting bishops and higher still, for the sole and explicit purpose of ravaging the Church.

    The butchering of future Catholics and saints is taking place now at abortion mills throughout this post-Christian land. All of this at a time when we have the most catholics in public office we’ve ever had. I believe that this is also the most catholic court we’ve ever had. What good is it?
    A cowardly flock is only good for the slaughterhouse.

  • Tarheel

    It does not surprise that President Obama is alienating voters. Because Obama is confident that at the 11th hour he make a “promise” that will bring the Catholics that helped him get elected back to him.

    I didn’t vote for him last time and will not again. But sadly way too many of my fellow Catholics will once again vote for him. Why? For that I have no answer.

  • Theodore Kobernick

    But wait! Obama said, “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death.” (per Scripps Howard News Service)

    Now let’s see. Obama has repeatedly proven himself a liar. He is a champion of the culture of death: abortions, sending soldiers to die and kill in wars whose only purpose seems to be death and destruction, planning to reduce medical care for older citizens.

    So we ought to ask ourselves what God he has partnered with. Hmm. . . . Examining John 8:44, we hear Jesus saying, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

    No one who really belongs to the Lord God will partner with a son of the devil.

  • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

    Obama is the Devil’s dupe, being actively used by the Prince of Darkness to bring down the greatest nation the world has ever seen. Obama is too blind to see it because he’s convinced himself that he’s the One. One of these days it’s all going to come crashing down around him – I just hope Obama doesn’t take too many innocent people along with him.

  • goral

    The name calling of this young president, certainly true and to my liking. My favorite one is still Mark Helprin’s on Morning Joe – 6/30,…. and he is!

    Perhaps some poetic soul can compose a litany to this Potomac potentate with all the titles that are ascribed to him.

    If Obama is the “Devil’s dupe”, are not the Catholics who vote for the arrogant mohammedan also that?

    • http://www.schefter.org PrairieHawk

      Yep.