Defying Eternal Damnation, Catholics will Vote Democratic

When the Department of Health and Human Services issued its regulation requiring employers (except houses of worship) to cover contraception for their employees, the conventional wisdom was that it would hurt Obama’s support from Catholic voters.

Similarly, when Obama came out in support of marriage equality, there was fretting it would hurt him with all kinds of religious voters.

The latest Pew poll, though, shows Obama bouncing back from a decline in support among Catholic voters. As Daniel Burke at Religion News Service notes, in June, the same poll found Obama barely leading Mitt Romney among Catholic voters, 49-47%. But in September, he’s pulled ahead, and now leads Romney among Catholic voters 54-39%. Pew’s comparison with 2008 exit polls showed that Obama’s current standing among Catholics is identical to the percentage of Catholics who voted for him in 2008. But Romney is behind where John McCain fared among Catholics—despite picking a Catholic running mate and taking the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ position on the contraception coverage and same-sex marriage. McCain got 45% of the Catholic vote, but Romney’s only drawing 39% among registered voters. The data—which is, should be noted, from registered, not likely voters—raises questions about whether Catholic voters were swayed by the Bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” or by any of the bishops’ worst rhetoric, such as that of the Archbishop of Springfield, Illinois, Thomas John Paprocki, who, as Right Wing Watch reported, said that Democrats support “intrinsic evil” and anyone voting for such a candidate puts their “soul in serious jeopardy.”

And even apart from the presidential campaign and contraception, there are Catholics who are not listening to the Bishops—including on marriage equality. In Maryland, where anti-equality activists are attempting to use a ballot measure to invalidate a marriage equality law passed earlier this year, the Maryland Catholic Conference has worked with other anti-marriage equality groups, helping to lead opposition through the process in the legislature and now the ballot box. But watch this Marylanders for Marriage Equality video of Jenny and Pat Nugent, self-described “cradle Catholics” and active parish members, who tell the story of their youngest of seven children coming out to them. “I want him to have the same sense of security and fidelity in a relationship, where you know there’s always one person you can rely on,” says Jenny. “And I also want for him to be able to say to the world, this is who I love, this is who I’m committed to, this is who is committed to me, that they can do that publicly, like all of our other kids.” Watch:

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email