A recent panel at Catholic University – billed as nonpartisan – instead offered only left-leaning professors who denied a growing anti-Catholic sentiment among Democrats and claimed most Catholics don’t care much about Democrats’ support of same-sex marriage or pro-abortion health insurance mandates.
The political science professors also claimed Catholic women prefer President Barack Obama to Republican nominee Mitt Romney, that the Republican Party fails to provide policies favorable to Catholics, and that Catholics don’t necessarily vote based on their ideologies.
The professors tapped to lead Thursday night’s “Catholic Vote” panel at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. all teach at the private college. They included John Kenneth White, a frequent Huffington Post commentator and author of “Barack Obama’s America”; Matthew Green, a Roll Call contributor who wrote Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “a strong candidate for historical greatness”; and Stephen Schneck, national co-chairman for Catholics for Obama.
The panelists hardly focused on abortion and same-sex marriage – and religious liberty was not mentioned at all – this despite the U.S. Bishops criticism of the Obama administration and Catholic University’s own lawsuit against the Obama administration accusing it of violating its religious freedom.
According to these experts, Catholics care more about the economy than these issues and are unlikely to change their vote based on a candidate’s stance on abortion.
When asked about Obama’s new health insurance law that will require Catholic schools to provide free contraception and abortifacients, and the growing anti-Catholic sentiment among Democrats, the scholars dodged the questions, saying they were too partisan, or that polls show those two issues don’t really matter to most Catholics.
White said that there clearly must be no growing anti-Catholic sentiment in the Democratic Party, because Catholics continue to support Democrats in the election.
The professors agreed there is no such thing as “the Catholic vote” because Catholics, including non-practicing Catholics and Latino Catholics, tend to split evenly between party affiliation.
“I’m not sure Catholics bring their ideology to the voting booth,” White said.
Schneck, who has stated in the past that he believes Obama is the more pro-life candidate, said Romney does poorly with women voters – especially Catholic women – because women are highly pragmatic in their voting decisions.
“I don’t think women are voting for Obama because of a war on women,” he said. “Women are more pragmatic in how they cast their votes, men think more about ideology.”
Overall, the panelists voiced optimism about an Obama victory in November, citing statistics that showed the Republican Party fails to provide policies favorable to Catholics, such as the Latino voting bloc.
“The Republican Party is making a historic mistake with its policy on immigration,” White said. “It is beyond me why the Republican Party would go for short term victories like the Arizona law.”
He also said the country’s demographics favor Obama, citing the growing number of Latinos and single people. Both groups tend to vote Democrat, he said.
The Republican Party must change their tune if they hope to attract voters, because they campaign as if the “1950s nuclear family” was still the norm, White added.
Some in the audience walked away feeling as if they panel was incredibly one-sided.
“The upcoming election is so crucial for our church, especially given that the incumbent president is the most anti-Catholic president we have ever had,” John Archer, a Catholic University graduate student, told The College Fix. “I wish the panelists had had the courage to discuss the issues.”
During the event, Archer had asked Schneck to elaborate upon an argument he put forward at his speech at the Democratic National Convention that Romney/Ryan cuts to Medicaid would increase the abortion rate in the United States.
But the moderator, Sheilah Kast of NPR’s Baltimore affiliate, quickly cut him off, saying his question was too policy based for the discussion.
Fix contributor Regina Conley is a student at Catholic University of America.
IMAGE: NC in DC/Flickr