Opinion: Who will claim the Catholic vote?
Joe Biden's brand of Catholicism is rooted in Vatican II's participation and social justice, says Paul Stanley. Paul Ryan's is more centered in conservative theology.
August 17th, 2012
11:33 AM ET

Opinion: Who will claim the Catholic vote?

By Timothy Stanley, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."

(CNN) - This year has provided something of a bumper crop of Catholic candidates. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in the Republican primaries, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan in the general election. Given the endless cycle of sin and guilt that we have to live with, sometimes it feels like it's easier for a Catholic to get elected president than it is to get into heaven.

But political strength doesn't necessarily mean political unity. Today's Catholic vote is divided by intensity of faith. According to Gallup, the "very religious" lean toward Romney and the "nonreligious" prefer Obama, by significant margins. This reflects an internal story of conflict between liberal and conservative perspectives on what it means to be a Catholic. Biden and Ryan stand on either side of that debate, and their selections as running mates signal vastly different approaches to winning the Catholic vote.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Joe Biden • Opinion • Paul Ryan • Politics

soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. TUVIA




    Barack Obama vs the People of Israel



    August 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  2. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 19, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  3. Barb

    I have a question. If separation of church and state means no one is to vote their conscience if said conscience is formed by religion, why would you go for the "catholic" vote? Doesn't it mean that there isn't supposed to BE such a thing as a "catholic", "mormon", "lutheran", etc.....vote at all?

    August 18, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Yes, each is to vote his or her conscience. But it has to be a correctly formed conscience.

      Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States may be read online or you can download it as a .pdf .

      http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship-doc ument.cfm
      You have to delete the space between the C and the U before the .cfm . WordPress doesn't like those three letters together even imbedded in another word.

      August 19, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Barb, you definition of separation of "church and state" needs to be revised. It doesn't mean that individuals are not supposed to use their own religiously (or otherwise) formed conscience to vote. That would be ridiculous. It means that the government shall not form laws which elevate religion to a federal mandate.

      August 20, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    August 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine -year- old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      August 19, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. I prayed and I got a much much bigger thing. Then I took that thing and put it in a donkey's mouth. Then I put that donkey's big thing in my mouth. Then I took the white things from the donkey's thing and put them in my mouth.

    August 18, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • just sayin

      A Truth stolen by an atheist quickly degenerates to filth, proof provided above. God bless

      August 18, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  6. HeavenSent

    Please stop your sinning! I have a message from the Lord, who is the light! He giveth his flesh for all of us. Read His message of love and forgiveness at http://www.fleshlight.com

    August 18, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      No can do; sin does not exist.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm |

      Moby's a communist.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  7. Levreault

    In my small colleguerrrs sites they've got additional me personally for their web site shoots, though my service normally sits at the bottom belonging to the listing and doesn't listing whenever i article as it truly does individuals. Is slideshow preparing we have got to improve or is slideshow decision they may have crafted? Levreault

    August 18, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  8. myklds

    "According to Gallup, the "very religious" lean toward Romney and the "nonreligious" prefer Obama,"

    It's like calling Romney, Mr. President already.

    August 17, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      The majority of voters are neither "very religious" nor "non-religious." Therefore, your comment is about as stupid as they come.

      August 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |

      Go home Moby commie.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Jack

    Hello. Everyone is cordially invited to visit... thestarofkaduri.com

    August 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 17, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • everyone

      Being an as*shole and trolling the same sh*it over and over should not be allowed on this or any other blog. I normaly respect life of any kind, but in your case fvck off and die already.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Prayer changes things

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things. Proof provided in post by everyone above.

      August 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      Truth is never trolling. God bless

      August 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm |

      Atheists are commies.

      August 18, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  11. Replay

    The Higgs Boson goes into a catholic church and hovers in one of the pews. The congregation can not help staring and whispering about its presence.
    The priest seeing the disturbance decides he must do something about it. He approaches the Higgs Boson and states that it must leave the church.
    The Higgs Boson responds...Are you sure, you can not have MASS without me.

    August 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      This joke doesn't present any irony, neither is it funny

      August 20, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  12. Snow

    I wonder if the mindless catholic masses in this great nation really understand what catholicism really means.. It explicitly puts the pope of vatican above any nation's local governing body, and has the power pass/change/enforce any law he deems fit, with absolutely no regard for the wishes of locals..

    That's bye-bye democracy for the uninitiated. And these mindless masses want to support that?

    August 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Snow, the Catholics are the largest group of followers of Jesus Christ's truth. The Vatican is an after thought.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It's kind of sweet the way Christians sometimes recognize the legitimacy of each other's claim to being "followers of Jesus Christ's truth."

      August 17, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tommie Tom, what? Never mind, you'll most likely elaborate.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • duh..

      She meant, you would fall in line praising the mormons to be the greatest followers of JC if it suits your agenda.. and the next day go back to hating them for being a cult.. She meant you do not have the strong convictions to follow through what you preach others.. duh!!!

      August 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mormons are not Christian.

      August 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      duh..I'm a registered democrat.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:32 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Snow:

      "I wonder if the mindless catholic masses in this great nation really understand what catholicism really means.."
      So do a lot of others. By and large, we baby-boomers were not catechised well. I got a copy of Catholicism For Dummies by Rev. John Trigilio, Jr., Rev. Kenneth Brighenti and made a Jeopardy-like game for my class.

      "It explicitly puts the pope of vatican above any nation's local governing body, and has the power pass/change/enforce any law he deems fit, with absolutely no regard for the wishes of locals.."

      "That's bye-bye democracy for the uninitiated."
      I'm not quite sure what you mean with this. We don't have a democracy now. We have always – since the founding of
      this country – been a democratic republic.

      "And these mindless masses want to support that?"
      I refrain from making a snide retort using mindless, tempting though it is.

      August 19, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Game set and match. Nice job Chick.

      August 20, 2012 at 7:56 am |
  13. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    The Catholic vote will go to one who realizes that most American Catholics don't really believe in the authority of the Catholic hierarchy on issues important to them.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Another PR spin. LOL.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
  14. realbuckyball

    The lawyers sure like the Catholics. The longer the RC's exist, the more the lawyers make.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Pete

    Who will get the Catholic Vote? Whoever panders to the pedophiles the best.

    August 17, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Pedophiles belong in the atheists carnal category.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Mirosal

      So does that mean Catholic priests are actually Atheists?

      August 20, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  16. Reality

    Obama/Biden already have the voters they need to win. They are the Immoral Majority to include a lot of so called catholics:

    The Immoral Majority you ask?

    The 78 million voting "mothers and fathers" of aborted womb babies !!! (2012 -1973 Rowe vs. Wade = 39.

    39 x 2 million = 78 million. Abortion rate in the USA as per the CDC is one million/yr.

    And the presidential popular vote in 2008? 69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for "pro-life" JM. The population of the Immoral Majority in 2008? ~ 70 million !!!!!!

    August 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Primewonk

      The "Christian" version of a god claims both omnipotence and omniscience. Thus, this putz is directly responsible for all spontaneous abortions. This accounts for up to half of all pregnancies – the vast majority within the first week or so, usually before the woman Evan has a clue she is Perchfest. Get this cretin to knock it off. Then we'll talk.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Primewonk, you need to learn to put the breaks on the disgusting posts.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Reality

      Assuming there is a Christian god:

      o From Father Edward Schillebeeckx's , Church: The Human Story of God,
      Crossroad, 1993, p.91 (softcover)

      "Christians must give up a perverse, unhealthy and inhuman doctrine of predestination without in so doing making God the great scapegoat of history" .

      "Nothing is determined in advance: in nature there is chance and determinism; in the world of human
      activity there is possibility of free choices.

      Therefore the historical future is not known even to God; otherwise we
      and our history would be merely a puppet show in which God holds the strings.

      For God, too, history is an adventure, an open history for and of men and women." (and there developing children).

      Or assuming there is no Christian god:

      The Agnostics' Creed 2012: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      (references used are available upon request)

      August 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Reality

      Oops, make that "their developing children".

      August 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, Jeffrey Dahmer killed those young men because he believed the lies of evolution.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, part of your post is "Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,"

      Answer: It was the Pharisees that were jealous of Jesus being the son of God, that got them to conspire to have Him crucified by order of Pontius Pilate. The Pharisees were practicing the lies of men, not God's truth. Sound familiar?

      Here's one of many scriptures pertaining to the conspiracy to crucify Jesus.

      Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

      August 18, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Reality

      Matt 26:59 has been thoroughly analyzed by many contemporary NT scholars and found to be non-historical. See for example, Professor Gerd Ludemann's book, Jesus After 2000 Years to include the summary on pp. 694-695.

      August 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  17. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Here's Pew's Republican / Independent / Democrat breakdown:

    White Catholics ............................ 30% ... 39% ... 28%
    White mainstream Protestants ..... 31% ... 38% ... 26%
    Wihte Evangelical Protestants ..... 49% ... 30% ... 17%

    White Catholics and mainstream Protestants are similar in their voting habits and a significant plurality of them are independent. I don't believe this group will swing en-masse, but it is because this group is the swing vote (the evangelicals are not) that Ryan is on the ticket.

    This may work for the GOP, it is election strategy by the numbers but I still think Catholics will vote according to their own lights, which will fragment this vote.

    August 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      White voters versus whom? Give me a break with this nonsense.

      August 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      Are you having comprehension problems today? Here's the distribution of non-white voters:

      Black, non-hispanic .......... 05% ... 22% ... 69%
      Hispanic ........................... 11% ... 46% ... 32%

      August 17, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      GOPer, this nonsense pitting folks against each other because election time is rolling around again is beyond ridiculous.

      August 18, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  18. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    What Catholic vote??

    Catholics are split.
    Many will vote on the wedge issues claimed as 'conservative values' – anti-marriage equality, anti-abortion.
    Many will vote on traditional liberal values related to society taking care of the less fortunate.
    Catholics trend independent much more than Protestants.

    The Church infrastructure does not like Ryan.
    The Church infrastructure has legalistic objections to Obama's health care act.

    There is no monolithic 'Catholic' vote.

    August 17, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Yeah, but Ryan is more likely to kiss Archbishop Dolan's ring in public than Joe Biden is.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Joe, that's what you get for being sandwiched in between NY and Boston.

      August 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      "anti marriage equality"? Spin much?

      August 20, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • midwest rail

      Bill – what would you prefer he call it ? I'm sure your preference won't contain any "spin".

      August 20, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • billdeacons

      I tend to think of spinning as placing a name on your opposition so as to cast them in a negative light. I prefer to identify people according to what they support, not what their enemy presumes they oppose. Hence I think in terms of pro-life, pro-traditional marriage vs. pro-choice, pro-gaye marriage. You mask your own agenda when you camoflage it by a negative image of your opponent.

      August 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
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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.