Catholic vote

Reporters: Forget the evangelicals. Will white Catholics dump Donald Trump in 2020?

Reporters: Forget the evangelicals. Will white Catholics dump Donald Trump in 2020?

The following assumes that President Donald Trump will be impeached by the Democratic House, kept in office by the Republican Senate and then will appear on the November 2020 ballot.

The key is that are are already some hints of softening support for him in a Public Religion Research Institute survey released October 17.

To be blunt, 27 percent of those who identified as Republican or leaned Republican would prefer a different nominee. Only 39 percent of Americans approved of his job performance as president in this poll, though he did notably better with white (non-Hispanic) Catholics (48 percent) and white mainline Protestants (54 percent) -- and of course white (non-minority) evangelicals (77 percent).

Just under three-fourths (73 percent) of Americans wished Trump’s speech and behavior followed the example set by prior presidents and so did 70 percent of all Catholics and 72 percent of white mainline Protestants.

PRRI provoked the usual commentary about why-oh-why all those white evangelical Protestants favor the president. Certain evangelical thinkers fret that association with his embarrassments is damaging the Christian witness for years to come. That’s an important topic for journalism, since evangelicals are the nation’s largest religious bloc.

But just now reporters are necessarily consumed by 2020 and PRRI reports that white evangelicals favor Trump.

Ho hum. They vote for Republicans, period. By Pew Research data, in 2004 they voted 78 percent for the born-again George W. Bush. In 2008 they slipped to 74 percent for the less overtly pious John McCain, who had tangled with “religious right” preachers. In 2012 they went 78 percent for the devout Mitt Romney despite aversion toward his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith. In 2016 they gave 81 percent to the secularized Donald Trump, a proud vulgarian.

But The Guy keeps emphasizing that white Catholics gave Trump 59 percent support, and similarly for Romney.

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For reporters looking ahead: How politics will impact the Catholic church in 2019

For reporters looking ahead: How politics will impact the Catholic church in 2019

Elections matter. That’s the mantra you hear from both Republicans and Democrats — usually from the side that won said election — every time a piece of legislation being pushed finds legislative obstacles and serious opposition.

The recent midterm elections saw a split decision (Dems took the House, while the GOP held the Senate), leaving the nation polarized as ever heading into the what is expected to be a political slog heading into the 2020 presidential race. With the Catholic vote split down the middle again following these recent elections, it’s worth noting that Catholics, as well as the church itself, will be tested starting in January with the start of a new legislative session from Congress down to the state level.

Indeed, elections matter. Here are three storylines editors and journalists at mainstream news outlets should look out for that will impact the church in the coming year:

Clergy sex abuse: As the scandals — that mostly took place in past — continue to trickle out in the form of grand jury reports and other investigations, look for lawmakers to try and remedy the situation for victims through legislation on the state level.

With very blue New York State voting to put Democrats in control of both the state Assembly and Senate (the GOP had maintained a slight majority), look for lawmakers to pass (and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, to sign) the Child Victims Act. The Empire State isn’t alone. Other legislatures in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey and New Mexico are considering similar measures.

The New York legislation would allow victims of abuse suffered under the age of 18 to seek justice years later as adults. Removing the statute of limitations on cases involving private institutions, like the Boy Scouts and Jewish yeshivas, is at the heart of the battle.

New York law currently prevents victims from proceeding with criminal cases once they turn 23. As we know, many victims don't come forward until years later. The church has opposed past attempts at the legislation — along with the GOP — after successful lobbying efforts by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The ability to sue the church, even many years later, could bankrupt parishes, while public schools would be immune to such penalties. Another source of contention in the legislation is the one-year “look back” window that would allow victims to bring decades-old cases to civil court.

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Dear Washington Post editors: Ask some orthodox Catholics why THEY oppose Trump

Dear Washington Post editors: Ask some orthodox Catholics why THEY oppose Trump

You knew this story was coming sooner or later, in The Washington Post as well as in every other mainstream news outlet. The understated Post headline: "Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem."

Of course he does. I mean, let's think it through.

Raise your hand if you are surprised that the majority of Catholics and ex-Catholics who oppose their church's defense of ancient Christian doctrines on sex, marriage, the defense of life from conception to grave and related issues are going to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Raise your hand if you are surprised that Catholics who say they support those teachings, but have not defended these doctrines in public life or even a voting booth since, oh, 1973, are going to vote for Clinton.

Raise your hand if you are surprised that millions of Latino Catholics are going to vote against Donald Trump.

So far, it's easy to do the math. So what is the interesting question in this piece of news? Hint. You will not find the answer in the Post piece that is currently getting lots of promotion. First, here are some key facts right up top:

Yes, the man who once feuded with the pope (how soon we forget that actually happened) is cratering among Catholics.

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