Romney/Ryan Must Target Catholics and Evangelicals
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential pick Paul Ryan have been focusing on the dreadful U.S. economy and the country's staggering debt.
The GOP convention has made their focus abundantly clear by having two debt clocks posted in the convention arena. Delegates will be treated to the sight of a perpetual debt machine spewing out unbelievably large numbers. One digitalized sign lights up the total U.S. debt -- now approaching sixteen trillion dollars -- while the other illuminates the amount of debt piled up during the duration of the convention.
It's pretty scary stuff.
And -- borrowing an oft used phrase from our president -- "to be perfectly clear," the state of the U.S. economy is scary and deserves the concentrated attention it is receiving from both Romney and Ryan.
However, the state of the economy and the culture at large are inextricably intertwined, as many conservatives in the evangelical and Catholic faith communities have long noted.
The Romney camp should take notice of the fact that matters of faith, morality, and culture loom large in the minds of millions of conservative religious Americans, most of whom are already fiscal conservatives. Romney and his campaign advisers should target the conservative religious vote.
For the fact is that the Romney/Ryan ticket could win or lose, depending on the conservative Christian vote, evangelical and Catholic.
According to the PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, evangelicals constitute approximately 26.3% of the U.S. population. Catholics constitute another 23.9%. That's 50% of the voting populace, and it doesn't even include Afro-American evangelicals, who make up yet another 6.9% of the vote. While no one can claim that each religious voting block is unyieldingly and uncompromisingly conservative on every issue, it remains a fact that 57% of U.S. citizens are affiliated with churches whose leaders still consider issues of faith and morality as being of even greater importance than fiscal issues.
It's pretty clear that the current administration is royally ticking this monumental voting bloc off.
Romney and his advisers could tap into that anger.
At the heart of the increasing rage felt by religious conservatives are the incessant attacks on Christian values. Many Christians correctly perceive that their government is not on their side.
Perhaps no particular incident has provoked the hitherto largely suppressed and often merely incidental anger of Christians than the ObamaCare mandate requiring all faith-based institutions to provide insurance that includes abortifacients and sterilization procedures to all employees.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose offer to pray a non-partisan benediction at the Democratic convention was accepted only at length, has led the charge against the government's egregious flouting of the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. The cardinal sent the White House a letter written to fellow bishops, in which he stated:
[... W]e have become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our struggle to protect it. [...] We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans. We did not ask for this fight, but we will not run from it.
He added that evangelicals and other denominations stand with the Catholic church, saying:
They know that this is not just about sterilization, abortifacients, and chemical Contraception. It's about religious freedom, the sacred right of any Church to define its own teaching and ministry. When the President announced on January 20th that the choking mandates from HHSwould remain, not only we bishops and our Catholic faithful, but people of every faith, or none at all, rallied in protest. The worry that we had expressed -- that such government control was contrary to our deepest political values -- was eloquently articulated by constitutional scholars and leaders of every creed.
In other words, the Health Care mandate was and is correctly seen by Dolan and protestant church leaders as an unprecedented and unconstitutional assertion of state control over religious and private institutions.
As the evangelical community has discovered.
For as it happens, only days ago, Wheaton College's case against the ObamaCare mandate was shockingly dismissed out of hand by U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who ruled that the lawsuit was "premature." She wrote that since the mandate doesn't go into effect until August 2013, and since the Obama administration has promised some accommodation for some religious institutions, Wheaton has no case. She added, "Wheaton only tilts at windmills when it protests that it will not be satisfied with whatever amendments defendants ultimately make."
Wheaton College is one of the strongest evangelical institutions in America. The adverse ruling is an ominous wake-up call to the evangelical community at large.
Evidently the hostility of the Obama administration is beginning to have an adverse effect on the Catholic vote. According to a recent poll taken by the American Life League, one of the largest pro-life institutions in the United States, three out of four Catholics are now inclined to vote against Obama.
Only 27 percent of the Catholics surveyed support President Obama. Of those surveyed, 74 percent of Catholic men over the age of 50 do not support Obama, while Obama support among Catholic men under 50 years is only 25 percent. With Catholic women over the age of 50, the president's support is only 23 percent, with just 31 percent among Catholic women under 50 years.
American Life League speculates that such a dramatic shift may be caused by Obama's HHS mandates and ensuing legal battle over religious freedom, as 73 percent of Catholics polled believe that the mandates violate their religious freedom.
This nationwide survey revealed surprising results that should cause our leaders to pause and consider the consequences of their decisions and the impact it has on their constituents. Can Obama's support among Catholics be dwindling this fast?
Paul E. Rondeau, ALL executive director adds, "One thing is certain: Catholics, like most Americans, feel strongly about their religious rights and are committed to defending their faith. Both Church and national leaders should heed this notice."
The Romney campaign should also "heed this notice" and perhaps consider taking the following actions:
Show evangelicals and Catholics the division between social and fiscal conservatism has been erased and that the Republican Party is no longer divided into two camps, but is united as one.
Mount and coordinate an effort to have priests and pastors inform the Catholic and evangelical electorate about the high stakes involved in the health care mandate and other matters of faith, emphasizing the Obama administration's cavalier and dismissive attitudes toward constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms.
Contact prominent church leaders in every state, encouraging them to speak out against the intrusion of the state into the church and its institutions. Encourage them to urge congregants to vote, targeting particularly millions of conservative Christians who have opted out of voting in past elections.
Enlist prominent church and political leaders to point out and discuss specific examples of the administration's ongoing attacks against Christians.
The GOP made a good decision when, unlike the DNC, it readily accepted Cardinal Dolan's offer to pray a benediction. A message of support was sent to America's Catholics.
Now the GOP needs to follow up with more actions.
If Romney and his people act swiftly and decisively now to woo angry and disaffected evangelicals and Catholics, Romney could win the election by a landslide.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.