In 2016, Donald Trump, running alongside a Catholic turned Evangelical in Mike Pence, scooped up a majority of the Catholic vote. Hillary Clinton had added to her ticket nominally Catholic Tim Kaine, but that didn’t stop white Catholics from gravitating to Trump. Presumed opponent Joe Biden faces a similar problem. Trump remains popular with Mass-going white Catholics, who not only appreciate his strong stances in favor of religious freedom and a pro-life judiciary but also recognize that he has delivered to the country three-plus years of peace and prosperity.
Biden, who has followed his party into pro-abortion zealotry (he now supports forcing taxpayers to pay for it and supports partial-birth abortion), may appeal to bad Catholics, but he offers nothing to good ones. Most Mass-going Catholics can see that his “I am a Catholic from Scranton” schtick is bogus. Scranton Joe has become more like Hollywood Joe, serving as an officiant at gay weddings. Recall that he favored gay marriage before Obama did. So much for his “moderation.”
Biden’s Catholic problem was on display at the March for Life last Friday, as Catholics condemned him and lauded Trump, whose presence at it marked a presidential first. That gesture will endear Trump to millions of Catholics. Indeed, Trump, speaking of the “holy” image of unborn babies, sounded more Catholic than do the waffling U.S. bishops, whose pro-life pronouncements are always diluted by extraneous issues.
Earlier this month Politico ran a piece suggesting that Trump had done little to “reward” Catholics. In fact, he has done a great deal. He ended the legal nightmare of the Little Sisters of the Poor, has lifted Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, stocked the courts, including the highest one, with religious-freedom-defending originalists, and opened up countless administration jobs to social conservatives.
If Trump doesn’t appear with Catholic leaders as frequently as he appears with Evangelical ones, that’s because his Catholic support comes not from the top of the Church but from its grass-roots. The U.S. bishops are too politically and theologically liberal to appreciate Trump. They would rather pal around with Joe Biden. But rank-and-file, Mass-going Catholics don’t care. They long ago stopped taking their political cues from the bishops. Moreover, the endless abuse scandal has thoroughly discredited the bishops. How can anyone take their “social justice” blather seriously when they fail to protect their own flock?
Catholics, just as much as Evangelicals, needed a Constantine after eight years of aggressive secularism under Obama, and Trump emerged as one. Under Biden, now a captive of the far Left, that persecution would simply resume. The media plays dumb and professes shock that the religious Right would give its votes to such a “vulgarian.” But what exactly is the alternative? Trump is an obvious buffer between it and a secularist Left that would kick its teeth in without him.
Were Biden to win, we would see not only the contraceptive mandate come back but also new and even more draconian violations of religious freedom. Biden would have Catholics paying for abortions, too. He would force Catholic adoption agencies to work with gay couples. His military would court-martial chaplains for quoting Scripture. Remember all the harassment they suffered under the Obama administration without any objections from Biden. Admiral Michael Mullen told them to “get out” if they weren’t willing to bless Obama’s LGBTQ agenda. Biden’s pitch might as well be: If you want the most anti-Catholic administration ever, vote for the Catholic in the race.
Like John Kerry, whose checkered Catholicism finally caught up with him in 2004, Biden has turned his nostalgia-ridden faith into a greater liability than an asset. His ongoing troubles at the communion rail suggest as much. They hurt him more than help him, even as the media tries to portray him as the victim. Nor will running into the arms of liberal clerics — Biden has taken to casting himself as a friend of Pope Francis — save him. Jeb Bush found that out in the primaries after Pope Francis slammed Trump’s immigration stance. Trump’s poll numbers rose, not fell, after the papal denunciation.
Biden moralizes about Trump constantly. But it is his own cracked moral compass that has ceded to Trump the Catholic high ground.