By Tony Perkins
On this St. Patrick’s Day, Democrats were pressing their luck with one constituency: Catholics. A high-profile spat over March 17th parades is just part of the story when it comes to the increasingly rocky relationship between liberals and what has been one of their more reliable voting blocs. In places like Boston and New York City, the split grabbed headlines, as homosexual activists started co-opting St. Patrick’s Day parades for their own political purposes.
Longtime bans on LGBT displays vanished — along with a large contingent of Catholic support. The church’s Knights of Columbus were forced to pull out of their own parades, as new exceptions to old rules marched in direct defiance to everything Catholicism stands for. “We deeply regret that some have decided to use this occasion to further the narrow objectives of certain special interests, which has subjected this occasion to undeserved division and controversy. … Because the parade has become politicized and divisive… we will not be marching in this year’s parade,” the Knights explained in a statement.
Unfortunately, that’s just a snapshot of the upheaval between the Left and American Catholics — which, after six years of being shoved aside by the President and other Democrat leaders, are finally saying, “enough.” The liberal assault on faith has consequences — and the hemorrhaging of Catholic votes is one of them. In a titanic shift, Catholics are redrawing the political lines in a way that could rewrite the landscape of 2016 and beyond. Evangelicals aren’t the only ones sick of seeing the President use the Bible as a bat to beat them over the heads with.
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Catholics are bolting from the Democratic Party so rapidly that Pew Research Center now says 53% of white Catholics now favor the GOP (compared to the Democrats’ 39%), the “largest point spread in the history of the Pew poll.” And the evidence is sitting in Congress. When President Obama was swept into office, there were 98 Catholic Democrats in the House and 37 Catholic Republicans. Barely six years later, there are two times as many Catholic Republicans in the House (69) and 68 Democrats.
And experts didn’t have to do much digging to see why. The number of Catholics who said Obama was “unfriendly to religion” has more than doubled in the President’s two terms — from 17% to 36%. While the White House is busy building his legacy on the debris of the First Amendment, more churchgoers are turning their backs on his open aggression to the Christian faith. Things turned sour in the ObamaCare debate, when the President demanded that Christians bow at the altar of taxpayer-funded abortion.
Going where no government had gone before, the administration ordered religious business owners, schools, charities, and nonprofits to surrender their beliefs and pay for coverage that violated their moral beliefs — or pay crippling fines. The courts are still trying to clean up that mess, as dozens of organizations continue to sue for rights they’ve enjoyed since America’s founding — the freedom to believe and live according to those beliefs. Of course, it didn’t help that the White House’s hostility extended to a group of Catholic nuns: Little Sisters of the Poor. As far as HHS was concerned, even they should have to pay for contraception and abortion-causing drugs!
The onslaught hit Catholic Charities next, when the administration stripped the group of millions of dollars in grants for human trafficking victims because the program was too pro-life. In Massachusetts and Illinois, other branches of Catholic Charities had to close their doors on their adoption programs when Democrats ordered them to place kids with same-sex couples. Then, we watched as the President flung open the doors to same-sex “marriage,” rewriting federal laws and refusing to enforce others.
No wonder the Democratic Party is facing a “Catholic apocalypse!” Everything the Left does seems to put them at odds with core values of Christianity. Stephen Schneck, a political analyst at Catholic University, pointed out that “more and more of (Catholics) who remain are those who actively choose to embrace the church and its teachings.”
The head of Catholic Democrats sees the writing on the wall. “The shift in the Catholic vote should really be a wake-up call to the Democrats. White Catholics are 18% of the electorate… This is a significant voting bloc that now perceives Republicans as being more welcoming to people of faith.”
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
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