Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism
Paul Ryan is better known for his outspoken fiscal conservatism than for leading on conservative Catholic social causes.
August 11th, 2012
09:20 AM ET

Ryan as VP pick continues election year focus on Catholicism

By Dan Gilgoff and Dan Merica

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate promises to cast a spotlight on American Catholicism in an election year when the tradition has already been a major focus.

Ryan, a Catholic who chairs the House Budget Committee, is better known for his outspoken fiscal conservatism than for leading on conservative Catholic social causes like opposing abortion and gay marriage.

But Romney called attention to Ryan's religion Saturday in introducing him as his running mate: "A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life," Romney said.

And socially conservative groups were quick to praise Ryan's selection, with the president of National Right to Life saying that "Ryan has a deep, abiding respect for all human life, including unborn children and their mothers, the disabled and the elderly."

Ryan’s advocacy for cutting taxes and trimming the deficit — he is the architect of the GOP’s proposed federal budget — married with his willingness to talk about fiscal belt-tightening in moral terms and his low-key social conservatism speak to a political moment in which the economic concerns of the Tea Party and the social focus of the Christian right have merged into a relatively cohesive anti-Obama movement.

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Ryan’s presence on the ticket also could increase Romney’s appeal among the millions of middle-of-the-road Catholic voters who populate key swing states, like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Catholics are considered the quintessential swing vote, and no presidential candidate has won the White House without winning Catholics since at least the early 1990s.

With Romney, a Mormon, selecting a Catholic, Obama is the only Protestant in the 2012 presidential race (Vice President Joe Biden is also Catholic).

"As a conservative Catholic, Ryan is likely to appeal to a number of Catholics in the Midwest,” said John Green, a professor of religion and politics at the University of Akron in Ohio. “Catholics who are concerned about religious liberty, he is certainly a positive there."

The Catholic Church has helped frame this year’s election by strenuously opposing a rule in President Obama’s health care law that requires insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage to nearly all American employees, including those at Catholic colleges and hospitals. The Democrats have said that Romney’s and the GOP’s support for the Church’s position constitutes a “war on women,” while Romney and his party say Obama’s rule represents a “war on religion.”

In an interview with CNN, former GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich, who is Catholic, said that Ryan would shore up support in a Catholic community that feels it is “under siege.”

Romney released an ad Thursday repeating the war on religion charge. Next week, Sandra Fluke — a Georgetown University law student who was thrust into the national spotlight after radio show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” for her role in supporting Obama’s contraception rule — will introduce the president at a stop in Denver.

Ryan’s own Catholicism became a major issue this year, with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops criticizing his proposed federal budget for what the bishops said would be its adverse impact on the poor.

The bishops cautioned against overreaching budget cuts that endanger “poor and vulnerable people.” The bishops’ message called on “Congress and the administration to protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and to put the poor first in budget priorities.”

This split between politically conservative and liberal Catholics has existed for decades in the Catholic Church. But with Ryan running for vice president, some experts expect this divide to be sharpened.

"What Ryan will highlight is a division within the Catholic community,” Green said. “More politically liberal Catholics are very critical of the Republican approach and the Ryan budget, but Ryan has taken them head on.”

In an April speech at Georgetown, a Catholic school, Ryan defended his budget in religious terms.

“The work I do as a Catholic holding office conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it,” Ryan said. “What I have to say about the social doctrine of the Church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding of the problems of the day.”

Ryan’s $3.53 trillion budget doubles down on past proposals to overhaul Medicare and other government programs that are seen as politically sensitive. While the budget has little chance to become law, it draws a distinct contrast with Democratic views on spending.

That speech, along with other statements that put his budget into religious terms, led liberal Catholic groups to openly protest Ryan’s budget.

In particular, NETWORK, a group founded by 47 Catholic nuns that speaks out on social justice issues, went on a bus tour around the country to protest the Ryan budget.

In an interview with CNN, Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of NETWORK, said Ryan has co-opted sacred Catholic teachings and twisted their meanings.

This line of attack will intensify in the coming months because of Ryan’s nomination, says Deal Hudson, a religion and politics expert who ran President George. W. Bush’s Catholic outreach in 2000 and 2004.

“I think the Catholic left will make this the drumbeat about Congressman Ryan,” Hudson said. “That is why it is so important for the campaign to effectively get out in front of this argument.”

According to Hudson, it is possible to defend the Ryan budget from Catholic attacks, it will just take a campaign that “realizes this is what they face."


Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (1,690 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Who cares if he's a satanist... faith, what a waste of time.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  2. Michaela

    Bootyfunk, I don't know what your deal is, but you are an absolute idiot. You are an embarrassment to humanity.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the deal is a troll stole my name and is writing gibberish.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Rob

      Actually, you're quite the embarrassment yourself... You can hold your ground with the worst of them... But anyway, why don't you just go FY...

      August 11, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      aside from the obvious troll posting under my name, did i actually say something you disagree with? do tell.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Manda

    This has nothing to do with anything, but has anyone else noticed in photos that Romney's head is like twice as large as Ryan's?

    August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • MikeInLex

      Oh, that LITERALLY made me LOL. Oh, wait, ... it's true, his head is BIGGER. RUN AWAY !!!

      August 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  4. Sandra LeVin

    First of all, anybody would be better than that moron Biden. This administration has turned out to be the most sneaky, corrupt, dictorial, un-American, hostile to business, group of left-wing ideologues we've ever had in this country and another 4 years of it will bring us careening and cascading into third world-ism.
    Ryan wants to balance the budget and reduce the deficit. How evil. We can no longer support every freeloader in society, who takes advantage of the system while giving nothing in return. The government is not a bottomless source of revenue and in a perfect world, with a majority of people contributing their fair share, society would be able to support those who truly could not. But now, almost half of Americans, pay no income tax at all. We have a plethora of illegals eroding our infrastructure while contributing nothing toward it. Generations on welfare/foodstamps, and now we have to extend medical care to all of them as well. Doesn't anybody see why we're running out of money? In 2-3 years, we'll be experiencing the same financial meltdown as Greece.
    In the beginning, I wanted to give Obama a chance, but feel he's failed miserably.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the 2nd worst recession in US history handed to Obama on day 1 which cost americans over 4 millions jobs. Obama has gotten almost all of those jobs back.

      i'd call that an amazing accomplishment. the stock market has hit record highs, too. no credit there either?

      August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      I like to eqauate dem Libertarians with d3m reupolicans because htey jusssd os so religiouds.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • giovannifrontino

      Your out of touch. Romney hasn't paid taxes like the rest of us for years. He is a free loader and the worst knd. Wake you

      August 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  5. Bootyfunk

    I's likee dem tuedrles. Becuus i think repiblicans and demosratas and libertarians are mosztly the same thing. I odounj liek those religousou folks, but I thhi k all them Libertarians are the same as republiclans. they hate abortion and reason, becauyzze they do nt understan d democrats z like ;me.!!!

    August 11, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • cgirl68

      Bootyfunk- please use proper spelling and punctuation. This isn't the time nor the place for ghetto style writing. What are you 12???

      August 11, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  6. tom

    No Catholic who understands his faith would hold up Ayn Rand as a political model. Ryan is one of the "compartmental" Catholics. Doesn't understand the message of the gospels, doesn't understand the Church's teahings on socila justice.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  7. Mormons are the lost tribe of Isreal

    Catholics are the most fearful and subjective group on the planet.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Equivoco

      Lost tribe uh? Looks like they've been lost a very long time...in their own BS.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Equivoco

      By the way, it's Israel and not "Isreal". Lost verrrry lost!

      August 11, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  8. OJ

    Why does Romney even bother trying. To gain a minority vote he alienated the majority. Oh wait, he is part of 1%, so the 99% does not matter is just common sense to him. Good luch to the US with this man. If he wins, you guys are screwed for another 8 years.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      he won't win. he chose he VP from the "i hate women" club - the caholics. bad choice in this political climate. i thought he'd pick a woman or a minority. screwed himself, imo.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Sorry, but it is "dus nut mettor". lEarn how ot spall moron. Republickan iks the saame as Libertarian. I know becuss I is smart.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Bootyfunk imposter:

      you just gonna troll all day like that? why not post as yourself and make a point. you're making us all have to scroll down to skip your inane posts.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      I laaoofke tauuulkuin to myself becauase I do not comprehend that religgous republicans are idifffer from libertarians who respect civil rights.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  9. Bootyfunk

    Ayn Ruund wuuuuss pro-life. She is consserrvvvaattivee, so she mooooosst be religgiouss and repolicaannn,. I liiiiiiimke the Turtles.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      All reublican s are porlife1. lIKE ayna Rand. She must'sheben on e a tose religous prolife republicans. They jusssshhhh sound liek theyre repubics.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Bill

      Ok, please stop.

      Only a moron would equate anti-freedom religious Republicans with Liberterians who favor civil rights and limited goverment.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Henderson

      i'm an idiot that sounds like a broken record. i'm just a little fussy cause my uncle "babysat" me last night and my bottom hurts. once mommy rubs some ointment on my brown eye, i'll be right as rain.

      sorry for putting words in your mouth, Bootyfunk. i know you didn't say republicans and libertarians are EXACTLY the same on EVERY issue, only that they have a lot of issues in common, but i'm an idiot. i can't help talking out of my @ss constantly. i guess i've never looked at the votes in the senate or congress to see that more often than not, republicans and libertarians vote along the same line. you'd think that having a computer in front of me, i could look something like that up - but again, i'm a worthless t.urd without a basic education. math is hard....

      August 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • cn

      except, bill, the "morons," didn't. it's romney who picked paul ryan, who professes to be an admirer of ayn rand. no "moron" is saying ryan is a rand fan. yet ayn rand WAS pro-choice (her stance on abortion would make many a feminist's toes curl, she was explicit that the fetus has no rights) and she was explicit that the state has no say in the relationship between two consenting adults. funny how all these self-professed "libertarian," like ron paul, his ignorant son, and ryan have all forgotten that.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  10. strangways

    no thanks, we had 8 years of a President who "answered to a higher authority", remember? And that worked out SO well for us. let's separate church and state.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • myintx

      Obmaa is supposedly a Christian... and Biden is Catholic.... hmm... guess they both answer to a higher power 🙂

      August 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      obama is a closet atheist. he'll write a book about it later.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  11. Reality

    Dear Messrs. Obama, Biden, Romney and Ryan,

    What we do understand about religion- WE WOULD SAVE A LOT OF MONEY WITHOUT IT:

    To wit:

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?: (And how many “souls” would be saved?)

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror LIKE 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon ti-the empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    – Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses probaby never existed.


    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!


    August 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  12. refugeek

    The CNN photo makes Ryan look like the Antichrist.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  13. tony

    Ahhh. The Holy Romney Empire. Back to the Middle Ages "freedom", unless you were a serf, and "economics", like Jesus' favorite example of shepherding, here we come!!!

    August 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  14. lucinda

    This all too silly, but the part that stuck out the most was "interview with Newt Gingrich a Catholic", how many times has he been DIVORCED? and remarried? He is a Catholic? is this a misprint? Goes to show just how stupid it is to keep up the BS about who is what religion!

    August 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • postedbygeo

      We are turning into a Middle Eastern country , with all this infuses on religion. Al Qaida's plan is working.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • postedbygeo

      The plan is to change politics or governing to religious based creeds. Then the most aggressive (fanatical) religion will overcome, based on the stated format of "God's Will".

      August 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  15. Kip (Portland)

    Worst mistake Governor Romney ever made to make a tax ideologue his running mate. I am a conservative Democrat who was leaning towards Romney until he caved to the Tea Party and the right wing ideologues in making this selection. I would have thoguht if Romney had any sense he would have chosen Jeb Suh or Rubio. I will never support any canddate who wants to unravel the social safety net of this country. I am a care giver to a 94 year old whose only source of income is Social Security and whose health is supported by Medicare. To focus only on the rich and put the economoc burden on the middle class while making the very rich even richer is just plain bad policy!

    August 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • lucinda

      couldn't have said it better, except when I heard who he picked, first thing I said was "he just lost the election".

      August 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • ldean50

      thank you. well said. ryans' budget proposes to cut 33% of the Medicaid Budget. The only people who benefit from Medicaid are making 500 dollars or lesss a month. Medicaid is the only provider of dental care for children living in poverty. How can we treat children like this, but not care that Romeny (after loopholes) only paid 14% income tax on his 20 million income and created NO jobs, last year. I pay at a 36% tax level w/income about 39K. go figure

      August 11, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  16. BootyFunkMoron

    I am too suptid to uyndstann the differense betweeeen religious RepublicANs and Libertarians like Ayn Rand.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk


      you mad? you sound mad. mad enough to make a new psuedo-name in a 3rd grade attempt at insulting me.

      makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

      and i know there's a difference between libertarians and run of the mill republicans, but they have a hell of a lot in common. what part of that don't YOU understand?

      August 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      I thank that libertariooons lieeeeke Ayn Rand are pro-lifed. Me smart, I know.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Henderson

      have you guys noticed how fuking stupid i am. i talk out of my @ss constantly. you can safely flush anything i say down the toilet, cause it's a t.urd.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  17. postedbygeo

    I want to see a candidate that is Endowed by our Creator and casts aside religion.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      our creator is nature, the universe, common elements.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      And because Ayn Rand sooonds liiike a repulicaaan to my siiimpllleeee mind I think that she myussst have ben. Three can oooonly be two pareties, reupbs and demos. There can be noooooo other partee than thoose.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hahaha. i have a stalker. i love it. keep stealing my name. making me laugh my ass off.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • trying to sort it all out

      well that's getting kind of personal. but based on how puppet-like the Romney seems, he just may not have any junk going on down there at all.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hahaha, I thinsko that Ayn Rand wuuuus religoius and pro-life. I thaaank that becus I am Demooocraat and see anyonre who disageees as being RepuKlican. Republikcamns = religion, and Demosz = not religuuus. Nottin in bitwin.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Henderson

      i'm pretty sure republicans and libertarians don't agree on anything. i think that because i don't have a frontal lobe - i'm told you need one of those for cognitive thinking. oh well...

      August 11, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      I laaaaak them dos turdles. Ayn Rand wus 1 of dem proliiffers who think guiud is here an nuw. I dun unnnerstan than difffferucne betwwwen themn Repubklcaks and demn reason-based libertarians. Im gunna enroll in 1st grad.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  18. Proactive79

    why the Fcck faith is a big thing in this highly advanced secular country and why media wants to publish these topics?.......cant religion and politics be polarized???????????

    August 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Doesnot

      Agree.. this is heights of stupidity

      August 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • postedbygeo

      Christianity is satans tool.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      hind, hell is for hindu's, deniers of truth absolute, and Christians are none other than hindu's, deniers of truth absolute, by dividing of truth absolute in three, violator of American con–sti–tution and truth absolute. Mag's , tricksters to hind, fool humanity.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  19. Jonathan

    Sure wish an agnostic or an atheist had a chance in Hell of winning in an election.... Sad.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Henderson

      I would be happy with a Buddhist.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Matt Simon

      The irony of your statement is hilarious...."wish an Atheist had a chance in Hell".

      So I guess Atheists only believe in Satan? Actually, that explains a lot. 😉

      August 11, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Manda

    Call me cynical, but the campaign strategy against them is clear: keep encouraging the Evangelical Christians to believe that Mormons and Catholics aren't really Christians and can't be trusted.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • billy

      The campaign strategy is to use their own bigotry against them.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.