On Thursday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running-mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) launched a “Catholics for Biden” campaign to rally the support of a voting bloc that is drifting increasingly into the Republican column. Despite the fact that Biden is a practicing Catholic, his administration would be a disaster for Roman Catholic Americans and organizations that follow the church’s official teachings.
While Biden is a Roman Catholic, he has taken radical positions that are out of step with official Catholic teaching, especially on abortion. Historically a longtime proponent of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion, Biden has firmly opposed it this election cycle, vowing to repeal it if he wins in November. He has also pledged to restore funding for Planned Parenthood under Title X and to reverse the Mexico City Policy, which prevents U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding abortion overseas.
Biden has called for Roe v. Wade, the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision that struck down state laws on abortion, making it legal throughout America, to be codified into law. He said he will not appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who does not support the “right to privacy” logic of Roe v. Wade. Despite his Catholic faith, he has long championed Roe, even bragging about his character assassination of Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.
A Biden administration would also gut the religious freedom of Catholic hospitals and even Catholic organizations like the Little Sisters of the Poor. Under Obamacare, the Obama administration forced the Little Sisters nuns to pay for a wide range of contraception, including sterilizations and abortifacients. The Little Sisters fought this regulation for almost a decade, finally winning a brief reprieve this year, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could rescind the Obama order — but not ruling the order itself unconstitutional.
Biden said he was “disappointed” in the Supreme Court decision and he vowed to restore the regulation that violated the Little Sisters’ religious freedom.
Climate of anti-Catholicism
These radical policy positions should be enough to give Catholics serious pause when it comes to Joe Biden. But his curious silence on the repeated attacks on Catholic churches and statues across America (in the wake of the George Floyd protests) and his selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate should be the last straw.
“Catholic churches across America are literally burning, and Joe Biden has said nothing,” CatholicVote President Brian Burch said in a statement. “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.
Last month, an unidentified attacker lobbed a Molotov cocktail at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Weymouth, Massachusetts. 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 on a spate of attacks on Catholic churches in June. 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, Connecticut.
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.”
Not only is Kamala Harris even more radical on abortion than Biden is, but she also demonizes conservative Christians who disagree with her radical activism.
In May 2018, Kamala Harris began the trend of attacking Trump judicial nominees over their membership in the Knights of Columbus (KOC). She asked Judge Peter Phipps how he would approach abortion due to his membership in “a group that avowedly opposes abortion.” Harris asked if he had to “swear an oath in order to join” KOC, and whether “litigants in your court can expect a fair hearing … when [KOC’s] organizational values conflict with litigants’ constitutional rights.”
In October 2018, Harris joined her fellow senators in pressuring judicial nominee Allison Rushing over her relationship with the Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and asked Rushing whether she believes “that LGBT rights cannot be reconciled with religion.” She cited the far-left smear factory the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which compares ADF to the Ku Klux Klan by listing the organization as a “hate group.”
In November and December 2018, Harris joined Sen. Mazie Hirono’s (D-Hawaii) inquisition into Trump nominees Paul Matey and Brian Buescher regarding the Knights of Columbus. “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” Harris asked Buescher. She further pressed him on same-sex marriage, since KOC spent $1 million supporting California’s Proposition 8. Buescher pledged to uphold the law, regardless of his personal positions.
As attorney general, Harris had sworn to uphold the laws of California. Yet when the people of California voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman in 2008, she refused to defend Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment. When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed same-sex marriage, Harris herself rushed to officiate the first same-sex marriage in the state.
Harris’ statements and use of her office betray an ugly animus against conservative Christians like those who abide by the official tenets of the Roman Catholic faith.
While some statisticians report that the Catholic vote was evenly split in 2016, according to exit poll data compiled by the Pew Research Center, Catholics voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton, 52 percent to 45 percent. Although Biden is a Roman Catholic, a Biden-Harris administration would be an unmitigated disaster for American Catholics.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.