The Hill is reporting some potentially disastrous news for President Obama concerning his bid for re-election: His support among Catholic voters is slipping and, perhaps, is bleeding badly.
For example, a Pew Research Center in March 2012 found a “noticeable shift in opinions” among White Catholics with 31% now describing the administration as “unfriendly” to religion. In August 2009, only 17% described the administration that way.
Then, too, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is organizing for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what the USCCB believes is growing government encroachment on religious liberty. A confrontation with Catholic activists could cause major headaches for David Axelrod and his crew in Chicago.
Of course, that would require the USCCB to prove itself capable of whipping up fervor among U.S. Catholics. It’s a possibility, The Motley Monk would note, but there are many obstacles, not the least of which the majority of U.S. Catholics who are reported to support the President’s healthcare policies, especially as they concern “women’s freedom of choice.”
To wit, James Salt, the Executive Director of Catholics United—a politically left Catholic social justice group—told The Hill that the USCCB’s public relations campaign is misguided:
It reflects a great misplaced priority of the bishops. In no way is it apparent to me how Catholics in America are oppressed. Their positioning in society is greater than their numbers. There are six Catholic members of the Supreme Court.
This is part of a very orchestrated campaign by the bishops to make contraception the focus of the 2012 election.
Salt believes the USCCB’s broader goal is to get Mitt Romney elected so he can nominate a fifth conservative justice for the Supreme Court. That would make it possible for the Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.
If the USCCB is successful in its efforts—irrespective of whether they are motivated by concerns about religious liberty or to elect Mitt Romney—organized civil disobedience could feature Catholics in cities across the nation being hauled off to jail.
According to The Hill, Republican strategists are enthusiastic about the possibility. One Republican strategist is quoted as saying:
These would be devastating images for the Obama administration. You have a very important religious demographic coming out in protest of Obama’s policies and being arrested for their expression. These images would be politically damaging for the president’s campaign.
That’s a hope, one supported by the President of Catholic Advocate, Deal Hudson, who told The Hill:
This is the most dynamic situation I’ve ever seen since I’ve been involved in Catholics and politics. I think civil disobedience is almost inevitable. I think that kind of protest is on the way.
Of course, all of this is all about the so-called “war on religious liberty” initiated by the Obama administration, which The Motley Monk thinks is best understood in terms of the Obamacare mandates announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Those mandates—and the ham-handed “compromise” announced subsequently by the President—could end up having been a terrible political miscalculation.
But, don’t expect President Obama to attempt to mollify the USCCB before November. The Motley Monk believes the President and David Axelrod are confident that the 90% of Catholic women who use artificial forms of birth control are firmly in his camp. (The reality is that it’s 60%.) Furthermore, they are confident that Catholics who are aligned with political left are likely to view any protesters who get arrested for demonstrating for religious liberty as “right-wing, conservative nut jobs.” Catholics aligned with the political left are not going to march in lock-step with the USCCB.
Time will tell.
But, just like the spring weather, the political season is heating up. Religious liberty may end up being an important factor in deciding who will be the next President of the United States.
The all-important question is: Will the “Church militant” align itself with conservative Christians across the nation to teach a lesson to the President and David Axelrod come November?
To read the report in The Hill, click on the following link:
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