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. Sarah

    Non-Christians are NOT Americans. Our fouding fathers wouldn't have given them citizenship unless they believe in Jesus Christ !!!

    August 11, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      hindusim, Hog wash of a hindu ignorant Christian.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhhhaha! You were home-schooled, weren't you?

      Did your mom kick you out after 3rd grade or did you quit?

      August 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Damocles


      You know, they say that as you learn things your brain develops wrinkles to store the information. Your brain must be as smooth as an 8-ball.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Damocles, you are a hoot.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • mige

      It seems to me that native -americans were not christians.Who is more American than them.?A big dunce cap for you!

      August 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Really Sarah?

      There's a letter from George Washington to a Jewish congregation in Newport that you really should read. It was featured here on the belief blog a couple of months ago.


      You'll need to replace the v in docvment with a u.

      But I'm feeling the need to copy paste. So here we go:


      While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

      The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

      If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

      The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy–a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

      It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

      It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

      May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants–while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

      May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

      G. Washington

      August 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Damocles

      @tom tom

      I try to remain civil in these discussions and not degenerate into name-calling and whatnot, but sometimes I just... can't... help it. Ah well.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • billdeacons

      Not to worry Damocles Tom will pick up any slack in name calling that is needed, or any that is not needed.

      August 12, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If you have a problem with it, billy, you can always skip my posts or leave.

      August 12, 2012 at 1:44 am |
  2. Wake Up

    Anyone who is not Christian should be not allowed to serve in politics or any federal/state jobs... it's against the const.itution

    August 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Please post your source.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Sarah

      Google is your source

      August 11, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Google isn't a source, you twit. It's a search engine. Can you figure out the difference?

      August 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Wake Up and Sarah,

      you people are unbelievable. The EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT YOU CLAIM IS IN THE CONSTITUTION.

      "... but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

      It refers to "any Office or public Trust", that means any Federal government job. I really want to scream obscenities at your ignorance, but I fear it will make no difference.

      Go ahead – Google it. I dare you.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Cesar Andrade

      Its astounding how stupid people can be. I'm seriously sitting here with a palm on my face...look at yourself. Do you realize most of the founding fathers weren't even religious? But Deist? Look at the Treaty Of Tripoli, it clearly states that the U.S. was not founded on any christian or religious ideals. Get your facts straight sheep.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      there is a whole business around re-writing American history for consumption by the blindly faithful. Check the previous topic here to see one of these revisionists (David Barton) get egg on his face.

      One of his unfacts in a video (America’s Godly Heritage) includes the following dubious claim, such as a statement that “52 of the 55 delegates at the Const'tutional Convention were ‘orthodox, evangelical Christians.’”

      This was debunked by a researcher from a professor at a Christian liberal arts college.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  3. mige

    I heard that he's a practicing sheepist.But that's okay as long as the sheep don't mind.And as long as he's not asheep in you know what-- But I still want to see his papers,college transcripts.Alll that important stuff like they want from Obama

    August 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I wonder what a 'sheepist' believes. That wool is holy (or "hole-y" if moths get to it)? That "baa" is meaningful and quite different in connotation from "bah-hah-hah"? That the bell worn around the neck represents belonging? That the scent of poop is...hmm...well... maybe not.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      We could require a "sheepskin", you know.

      Sorry. That's the best I could do. It's late.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Damocles

      A sheepist could give a whole new spin on the phrase 'lamb of god'.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  4. BK

    Oh good choice with a Catholic running mate; just keep him away from little boys.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  5. sim namore

    Ryan serves Mammon and his own ambition, not God.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  6. mige

    I don't believe Ryan is a Catholic. I want to see hiis baptismal certificate.I want witnesses to his first communion and confirmation.And I want to know if he ate meat on Good Friday and a certificate that he had ashes on his forhead on Ash Wednesday.All this essential to being a good leader.(not).How about a transcript of some of his "confessions"?That would be interesting.I want to know what this guy is up to.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  7. NPost

    Religion is such a small portion of someone's character. Sadly I don't think there are enough intelligent people voting to be able to turn this country around. People are by nature lazy and ignorant.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You forgot to add that a great number of them are also STUPID.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  8. Reality

    Dear Messrs. Obama, Biden, Romney and Ryan,

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

    Details are available:

    August 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  9. RYAN 2016

    .Mitt does not care about people
    1- He picks a catholic because he thinks that us catholic we are dump. Mormonism has been against Catholicism for years. We know it!!! It’s a marriage of profitability.
    2- Massachusetts liberal, Mitt think that Republicans can accept him via Ryan. I prefer to vote for Ryan in 2016 after 8 years of Obama, just because I am convinced that Obama will win because of Ryan's premature pick.
    3- We better let this election go to democrats and have 16 next years for us Republicans. Just because we made a mistake of nominating the worse candidate, Mitt.

    RYAN 2016

    August 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • NPost

      If you think he picked hm because he is Catholic, you may be dump...

      August 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Cousin Eddie

      It's time to take a dump.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  10. polycarp pio

    Some of you folks on here are pure disgusting and are possessed by an unclean spirit, the name you choose and the filth you write, pure downright filthy disgusting. PP

    August 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You weren't invited to join the club, were you? Aww, poor baby.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Jamie

      Oh no, not unclean spirit. All us hellhound atheist improving medicine and technology and education and humanitarianism and learning science and all that voodoo nonsense. What are we thinking?

      August 11, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  11. polycarp pio

    God is love, he also says he will destroy his enemies. I dont know about you but I dont want to be an enemy of God. PP

    August 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • txjew

      The enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      How can something that is pure love consider anything an enemy?

      August 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • totempole

      We already have a word for love, love. Let's not try to redefine it into a supernatural being.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • mige

      If God is love then he wouldn't "destroy his enemies"he would convert them or forgive them or whatever.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Timmuh

      So you believe the bible is true and correct because it says so in the bible? There is not a reason in the world to believe that the claims made by Christianity are real or any different from the 4,500 other active religions in today's day and age.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • sybaris

      Well you're already an enemy of every god except one so you're not really any better off than us atheists.

      I wonder what kind of he.ll Zeus has for you

      August 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Jamie

      Damn. This blog is full of atheists who are more educated, more rational, less violent, more tolerant, and better versed in religion than its believers. It almost makes me think these nonbeleivers are rapidly growing in numbers in this country. Oh wait...we are. Get used to it PP. You are a dying breed of ignorant animals that our future generations will look back on the same way we look at those responsible for witch burning. Except, at least the witch burners didn't retard the growth of science or spread the hate and intolerance on the level that we are seeing today. Please, please do us a favor and buy a piece of land in Kansas and take all your people with you.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      Why don't azzholes like PP found their own nation? One in which abortion is illegal under ALL conditions, all must worship the same deity, all must believe in the Young Earth doctrine, all must swear an oath to avoid education. Any other requirements for the United State of Stupidity in Kansas?

      August 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Jamie

      I know, right. These people are motivated by fear and pleasure portions of the brain referred to as the reptilian Hindbrain. Seriously, there is scientific evidence that shows that those who are on the far right, or religious, or both, have brains that show most activity in the fight or flight region. Finally, solid proof that these folk are physically incapable of using higher areas of the brain related to critical thinking, logic and rationality.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • billdeacons

      Jamie can you cite a peer reviewed source on that study?

      August 12, 2012 at 1:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      bill, didn't you just dismiss psychology as pretty much a sham?

      August 12, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Chad

      @Rufus T. Firefly "How can something that is pure love consider anything an enemy?"

      =>pure love is always going to be opposed to deception and lies (considering it an enemy)

      August 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  12. graceministriesaustralia

    Obama is not a Protestant either. He is either a Muslim or a Church of Christ. Neither of these religious groups are Protestant.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Go sit on the Stupid Bench with KEEF!

      August 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • mige

      On what do you base your statement? What if he is neither?So what? At least he'snot a liar like the other candidates.Liars are the only religion I despise.Like "Read my lips,I won'raise taxes".Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." Tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs". Asking for more of the same?

      August 11, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • nate

      OBAMA is a christian, I asked him about his faith in Springfield IL at his announcement 4 years ago. GOD BLESS

      August 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  13. Ya'akov

    So, the fact that neither Sanskrit nor Hindi have any relation to Hebrew seems to have missed you. And "Yahood" is the Arabic for the Hebrew "Yahudi" anyway. False linguistic analogies makes for very bad reasoning, you twit.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      it is hinduism ignorance of a hindu, un knowledgeable, hinduism, pagan ism is not of sub continent, but of Egypt in origination and Persia afterword. hinduism racism was imposed by force on subcontinent by hidu's, pagans of Egypt and Persia, look at fundamentals of word's, it is Latin, Word Yahood is same in Hebrew as in Arabic. Yahood being an adjective and Yahoodi being a noun. Jew's are mixed blood of Egyptian hindu's, pagans.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hay and straw make strange bedfellows but the venetian blinds give comfort and shade. None but the lonely dogfish bites the bullet and fans the illiterate mambo. It is only in the radiator that we engender loss and comprehend to breastfeeding joy. Therefore, be not boiled, but committed to stirring rice for eternity. Amen.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Sanskrit is hinduism, corruption of Latin, and hindi, is based on Sanskrit like English, every language on earth is related to Latin, Hebrew, not Yiddish and Arabic are purist form of Latin.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  14. ArthurP

    Organized religion is only required by those who do not have either their own strength of character or moral fiber.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Jamie

      Geez. Finally, someone with a brain on this blog.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • TERRY

      I am humble enough to know that I cannot rely upon myself because there are people whom I need and there is a God that all of us need. If you think everything you got is all from your "strength", you're just ignorant and arrogant.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • totempole

      If you believe there is a god out there for all of us (not just you) without any evidence at all to back that up, well, that's arrogance.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • ArthurP


      So what you are saying is that left to your own devices you are weak willed and do not have the strength of character nor moral compass to know right from wrong.

      I feel really sorry for you.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Jamie

      @Terry. Just shut up. You call the belief that god made this universe for us and has a special plan for you being humble? Far from it. You are ignorant and are part of a group of folks that have their say wayyyy too long. Religion is in the twilight of it reign and I am excited to see the day when you pastors and priests are lumped into the same category as fortune tellers and street performers. Except, at least street performers have talent.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I second that emotion, Jamie. Terry is lame.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      MORALS, mean limit, limit means the truth absolute, and truth every thing stems from truth , so truth is creator, and known as God, hindu's, ignorant witness to it and they deny truth absolute in their hindu Judaism, self center ism, secular ism, hindu's. idiots.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  15. tomnikoly

    Read up on this guy. He REALLY worships Ayn Rand.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • alpg49

      Not any more. He had to disavow his philosophical mentor because she was an Atheist.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • totempole

      ...Ryan’s sidestep from Rand was politically essential. As a Mormon, the last thing Romney needs is to alienate the Christian Right further by putting an acolyte of an atheist on the ticket. So it was not surprising that Romney made a point of stressing Ryan’s Catholicism during his announcement of Ryan today, introducing him as, “A faithful Catholic” who “believes in the dignity and worth of every life.”

      Jane Mayer, The New Yorker. 11 August 2012

      August 11, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  16. Ya'akov

    This thread is pure comic relief after a very long day!

    August 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Try the veal cutlet, and don't forget to tip your waitress!

      August 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  17. Bootyfunk

    ryan, like all republicans, constantly p.iss on the backs of the poor while telling them it's raining.

    "Ryan has a deep, abiding respect for all human life, including unborn children and their mothers, the disabled and the elderly."
    - laughable. this guy proposes cutting every social program there is, but he cares?

    August 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  18. Irene Done

    jesus saves.....moses invests.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Irene Done

      mohammad flips foreclosures.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  19. btinc

    Catholic, Mormon. Really, I can't tell the difference.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      are all christian cults the same? mormon, catholic, protestant, baptist, presbyterian - all versions of the same nonsense.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      hey are an off shoot of hindu pagan, Mithra ism, savior ism.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hay and straw make odd bedfellows but the venetian blind give comfort and shade. None but the lonely dogfish bites the bullet and fans the illiterate mambo. It is only in the radiator that we engender loss and comprehend to breastfeeding joy. Therefore, be not boiled, but committed to stirring rice for eternity. Amen.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Steve

      Joe Biden, like Nancy Pelosi and the late Ted Kennedy, belong to a group I call COINNIAs–Catholics Only In Name Not In Action. It's good to see a real Catholic in the race.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      So, Steve, how come the church establishment can't stand Mr. Ryan?

      August 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • billdeacons

      My guess, being a Catholic, is that the so called "Church Establishment" is not monolithic in it's opinion on any of the candidates. I suspect one would find a variety of opinions on Mr. Ryan just as one would find a variety of opinions on the Health Care Mandate for forced birth control coverage.

      August 12, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  20. Ya'akov

    Hindu Judaism?! Really?! That's the best you can do? What the heck is Hindu Judaism?

    August 11, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Word Jew is based on Hebrew word Yahood, Ya, attentive by heart and mind, base word for word Yes, and hood, habit, Jew, A self centered, secular otherwise known as a pig, self centered. it is hinduism, hindrance to truth absolute, also known as crime.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hay and straw make odd bedfellows but the venetian blind give comfort and shade. None but the lonely dogfish bites the bullet and fans the illiterate mambo. It is only in the radiator that we engender loss and comprehend to breastfeeding joy. Therefore, be not boiled, but committed to stirring rice for eternity. Amen.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:02 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.