Bishops speak for 9% of Americans, 55% of House of Representatives

(Cross-posted from Think it Through)

Imagine a country in which a small group of religious zealots, run by old men in robes, has an iron grip on the country's political institutions despite a core following of only about nine percent of the people.

This small but powerful league tries to influence broader public opinion but fails. Nonetheless, it continues to be a force far beyond its numbers for policies that keep women from obtaining rights previously granted by the government, stop the advancement of anti-discrimination laws against gay people, and block other social and health reforms such as educating children about sexual health and distributing condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

The mullahs in Tehran had better move over and make room for the Catholic Bishops in America.

Our Catholic Bishops represent such a small slice of Americans it is almost incomprehensible to understand why the members of Congress and other government officials buckle under their pressure.

American Catholics make up an important 26 percent of the electorate. But BRS' polls of Catholics repeatedly show that only about one in three say that they follow the views of the Bishops when they decide who to vote for, and fewer than one in three believe politicians who are Catholic have a religious obligation to vote on issues the way the Catholic Bishops recommend.

Do the math and it seems you can only conclude that the Catholic Bishops represent fewer than nine percent of Americans. Yet the Speaker of the House of Representatives is willing to give way on abortion healthcare services to her fellow women because of the Bishops' lobby. Last Saturday's vote in the House limiting abortion services in healthcare won with 64 Democrats and 176 Republicans. That is about 55% of House members, submitting to a group representing 9% of Americans.

Meanwhile, the city of Washington, we learned in Thursday's Washington Post, is being told by the Bishops lobby that if it wants the larger institution of Catholic services to continue to operate in the city, the government must circumvent its own laws against discrimination pertaining to gay people.

Where will it end? Where are the politicians who give speeches about freeing oppressed people in other parts of the world from religious zealots?

John Russonello is a partner with Belden Russonello & Stewart:Public Opinion Research and Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. He writes the blog "Think it Through."

Tags: abortion, Catholics, Healthcare, House (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Catholics

One of the most frightening stats about the US is that we are the only country in the industrialized world where evangelicals and charismatic Catholics are gaining in numbers.

Scalia and Thomas are both charismatic Catholics.

by Charles Lemos 2009-11-13 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Well....

"It's a Mystery!" certainly fits this situation.

by QTG 2009-11-13 06:54AM | 0 recs
DC Catholics

I'm not entirely sure that's exactly what's happening in DC. Here's a comment a friend of mine posted on a Facebook link about that story posted by another friend. Intriguing if true:

I think you should read the Q&A (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con tent/discussion/2009/11/12/DI20091112085 73.html?sid=ST2009042801406). Not saying I agree with the Church's position, but the article mischaracterized it. Here is a quick summary of the actual situation:

The premise of today's story was that the Catholic Church was threatening to cease to provide charitable services if the law legalizing gay marriage is passed. In point of fact, it is the DC government that would cease to license or contract with the Church unless the Church conformed to a definition of marriage that violates its faith tradition. Without a set of broader legal exemptions allowing for the Church to remain faithful to its definition of marriage, it will cease to be permitted by the City to provide the contracted and licensed services that it has for well over a century. The Church's fundamental desire in this controversy is to continue its desire and freedom to serve.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-13 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: DC Catholics

That sounds like the exact same thing to me, only with some added spin.

The Church is saying that they would rather go out of the charity business than be forced to provide same-sex benefits.  That's the reality.

by Steve M 2009-11-13 11:57AM | 0 recs

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