In 2004, a grassroots organization in Ohio called “Catholics for Kerry” asked the campaign to send a surrogate to one of their events. They were told, “We don’t do white churches.” Turns out, if you “don’t do white churches” you also don’t get to do the White House.

 

This year, you don’t have to ask twice if you are a religiously motivated voter and you want some attention from the Democrats. Several groups, known as 527s because of their tax status, have sprung up to articulate and amplify those parts of Catholic social teaching that correspond with more progressive policies and they are taking to the airwaves to promote their message.

 

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has been busy all election season, hosting conference calls with reporters, preparing voter guides and now running a campaign that includes billboards, print ads and most importantly an extensive radio campaign. For samples, click here. http://www.catholicsinalliance.org/ad-campaign. As you can guess from the group’s name, the ads focus on the need to replace the social Darwinism that has reigned in America lo these many years since Reaganomics first began its idolatry of the free market with social policies that bring people together. Solidarity, not competition, is the theme and it could scarcely be more resonant as the nation comes to grips with the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression. The ad campaign is running in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.

 

The group Faith in Public Life is mounting a ten-state ad campaign on Christian radio stations. The ad states: “We need to ask ourselves what it really means to be pro-life and help move the conversation beyond bumper sticker slogans…It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together around solutions based on results, not rhetoric.  Please learn more by visiting www.realabortionsolutions.org.” The website includes statements from a host of religious leaders about the need to find some common ground on abortion.

 

Matthew25.org has been busy on the airwaves also. This group is the brainchild of Mara Vanderslice, who won the hearts of many religiously motivated Democrats in 2004 when she cheerfully served in the often thankless job of religious outreach director for the Kerry campaign. They are more explicitly partisan – they have endorsed Obama - and they have been running ads for a couple of months on Christian radio, highlighting Obama’s faith as much as his policy positions, making him familiar to a largely evangelical audience.

 

Voices from the right have been busy as well. “Catholic Answers” is distributing voter guides again this year. Randall Terry, the pro-life activist, has issued a document called “Faithful Catholic Citizenship” that reflects what he calls “the authentic magisterium,” a not so subtle jab at the U.S. Bishops’ document “Faithful Citizenship.” He also has issued “An appeal to Catholic priests” – but viewer discretion is advised. In the video Terry stands before an altar and displays an aborted fetus, which struck this viewer as tasteless, turning a tragedy into a prop.

 

I am no believer in averting our gaze from the horror of abortion, but the issue between Catholics in Alliance and Randall Terry is not whether abortion is good or bad but how we can best approach the issue. Some were moved when they watched “Silent Scream” and others were repulsed, but in a democracy the key is to convince and to do so in a way that respects the views of those with whom we disagree. My friends on the Left and my friends on the Right disagree about how to advance the pro-life cause but both groups should enjoy the presumption of good faith in their earnestness to prevent abortion.

 

Michael Sean Winters

Comments

Anonymous | 11/4/2008 - 1:24pm
Mr. Johnson, If FOCA would pass, it would certainly mess up your fundraising, since it would be quite apparent that you really have not come at all close to real success in the main issue, securing rights for the unborn. Of course, success in granting rights to the unborn would damage your fundraising even more. The March of Dimes discovered that it is a bad idea to pick a disease which can actually be cured, as Polio was. You have picked your cause well - although I will do my level best to make such gains from the left on securing the rights of late term children at the federal level that your base will be deradicalized. Right here, right now, commit to to winning so well that you no longer need to raise funds and volunteers. We are waiting for your answer.
Anonymous | 11/3/2008 - 4:45am
I agree that to talk is not enough.I agree that we need to build consensus to really get anywhere on the issue of abortion.But in the last part of your article I think you shortcircuit a little.To presume that others have good faith is not so difficult .I believe that Hillary Clinton and Obama if they had their way would have no abortions in America or elsewhere.I also believe that Dick Cheney and George Bush would prefer Peace all over the world.There is neither Peace nor a lack of Abortions.The question is how far are you prepared to go to protect life?To avoid War?I would say that Republicans dont lose enough sleep over what happens on the streets of Baghdad or Palestine for that matter.Equally I would say that Democrats dont lose enough sleep over what happens in abortion clinics or in millions of American wombs .They can both live with these realities.A fully formed conscience can live with neither and so would never enthuse over a Bush or an Obama.The Lord spoke about the two sons with a different approach.One says he will do it and does not.The other says he wont do it but does it.Lip Sevice is what the Lord is speaking of.Catholics should be wary of it.People dont and nor do they muddy the water over the evils of War but are more than happy to with abortion.But this question will ring through history and God will judge as he has always done.I hope all catholics approach Him with a good conscience on this question.
Anonymous | 10/31/2008 - 6:48pm
Michael Sean, here is a pop quiz for you. Let's imagine that we take your advice and have a good faith, respectful national discussion on abortion. Let's further imagine that we manage to convince 99% of the people in this country that unlimited abortion on demand is wrong, and that there should be significant limits on how and when women can have abortions. Under an Obama Presidency, what abortion-limiting measures can we democratically enact into law? None, of course, because under Roe v. Wade it is unconstitutional to pass any laws that place any meaningful restrictions on the right to abortion on demand. Obama has promised that the first thing he will do is sign the ''Freedom of Choice Act'', which will guarantee an unlimited right to abortion on demand. He will also only appoint Supreme Court justices who are committed to preserving Roe at all costs. Good faith and earnest dialogue are meaningless when the people are deprived of their right to make laws to protect innocent human life. One presidential candidate is committed to preserving this judicial tyranny, and one would set us free. Michael Sean, I'm sorry you flunked the quiz. Why don't you do a little homework before you blog on this subject again?
Anonymous | 10/30/2008 - 9:50am
Besides supporting the ''Freedom of Choice Act,'' Obama advocates other policies that would certainly increase abortions. He opposes renewal of the Hyde Amendment, the federal law that cut off Medicaid funding for abortion. By the most conservative estimate, more than one million Americans are alive today because of the Hyde Amendment. Moreover, Obama made it clear that if given the chance, he will appoint justices who agree with the four dissenting justices who voted, in 2007, to strike down the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Obama even came out for cutting off all federal aid to crisis pregnancy centers -- the centers that provide practical assistance to help women carry their babies to term. Documentation of all this, and more, at www.nrlc.org Douglas Johnson Legislative Director National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legfederal // at // aol-dot-com
Anonymous | 10/30/2008 - 9:48am
Barack Obama has no record of support for any legislation to prevent abortions. Rather, he is committed to policies that, if implemented, will certainly substantially increase the number of abortions performed. The pro-life side has made significant gains. At the federal level, despite stiff resistance from pro-abortion interest groups and their congressional allies, under President Bush we won adoption of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, protections for pro-life health care providers, coverage for unborn children under SCHIP, and other important pro-life laws and policies. At the state level, we've enacted hundreds of laws -- parental notification, informed consent, waiting periods, curbs on tax funding of abortion, and others -- and there is empirical data that these laws prevent hundreds of thousands of abortions. However, virtually all of these limits on abortion would be nullified by the proposed federal law, the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act," which Obama has cosponsored. This bill would make partial-birth abortion legal again, require tax-funded abortion on demand, and invalidate virtually all state and federal limits on abortion, including parental notification laws. On July 17, 2007, Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act." Douglas Johnson Legislative Director National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) legfederal // at // aol-dot-com