Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is a baptized Roman Catholic, so why hasn’t he condemned the mounting attacks on Catholic statues, Catholic churches, Catholic organizations, and Catholic beliefs? CatholicVote, a national faith-based advocacy group, is calling on Biden to publicly condemn the rising tide of anti-Catholic bigotry in the U.S.
“Catholic churches across America are literally burning, and Joe Biden has said nothing,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch said in a statement Thursday. “Leading members of the Democratic Party have fueled a climate of hate against Catholics, and these attacks have now led to acts of vandalism and violence. These attacks on the Church raise serious questions about the commitment of Joe Biden, a self-professed Catholic, to stand up to the rising climate of anti-Catholicism across the country.”
CatholicVote highlighted numerous attacks on Catholic churches, symbols, and organizations.
Earlier this week, an unidentified attacker lobbed a Molotov cocktail at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Weymouth, Mass. CatholicVote noted that this marked the sixth act of arson or vandalism against a Catholic church this year in Massachusetts alone.
The Wall Street Journal reported a spate of attacks on Catholic churches last month. Arsonists set Queen of Peace Church in Ocala, Fla., ablaze while parishioners were preparing for morning mass. A fire destroyed the roof and much of the interior of the 250-year-old Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in Los Angeles County. Vandals also painted satanic symbols on the doors of St. Joseph’s Church in New Haven, Ct.
In the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, rioters attacked statues of Saint Junipero Serra across California. Rioters tore down a statue of the saint in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, on June 19. On the same day, another group tore down another Serra statue in Los Angeles. Rioters pulled down and defaced another statue in Sacramento on July 4, inspiring a local Catholic to set up a makeshift shrine to Serra on July 5. The City of Ventura faces legal action after the city council announced it would remove a statue of Serra and consider removing Serra from public symbols.
While many activists today demonize Serra for spreading Roman Catholicism, claiming that his missions destroyed Native American culture, Serra advocated for the rights of native peoples, at one point drafting a 33-point “bill of rights” for the Native Americans living in the mission settlements. He walked all the way from California to Mexico City to present the bill of rights to the viceroy.
Detractors overlook this history in the rush to remove all alleged symbols of “white supremacy” and oppression in America. Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) referred to the statue of Father Damien of Molokai (a man who risked his life to serve lepers in Hawaii and ended up dying of leprosy) as a symbol of “patriarchy and white supremacist culture.”
These attacks, vandalisms, and arsons came after Senate Democrats demonized Catholics for their faith and associations. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) infamously attacked judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett, declaring, “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s a concern.” Barrett is a Roman Catholic who joined a Catholic organization.
In November 2018, Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) launched an inquisition against judicial nominee Brian Buescher, attacking him for his affiliation with the Catholic fraternal order the Knights of Columbus.
Referring to the attacks against statues in particular, former Congressman Tim Huelskamp, now a senior political adviser for CatholicVote, declared, “Many of these statues and churches were built centuries ago by faithful Catholics and remain powerful symbols for Catholics today. All good and decent Catholics are offended by this growing anti-Catholic rampage. Joe Biden’s deafening silence during this hate-filled epidemic speaks loudly of his consent to this shocking assault on our religious freedoms.”
While Biden is a Roman Catholic, he has taken radical positions that are out-of-step with official Catholic teaching, especially on abortion. He supports using taxpayer dollars to fund abortion both domestically and abroad, striking down state limits on abortion, and federal funding for Planned Parenthood. He has bragged about his character assassination of Robert Bork, which he claims protected Roe v. Wade (1973), and he has announced that he would restore the Obamacare contraception mandate which the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns, has spent years fighting.
Biden has kowtowed to the abortion radicals in his party, and it appears he may be holding his tongue on the anti-Catholic bigotry so as to avoid alienating the increasingly radical Democratic base. He really should put American Catholics ahead of the physical and rhetorical arsonists attacking their faith, but it seems he just can’t be bothered.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.