November 13, 2004
Catholics and Evangelicals Claim Bush Victory
"There's an old saying that victory has a
hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan," said
John F. Kennedy after his debacle at the Bay of Pigs.
Although President Bush beat Senator Kerry by 3.5
million votes, he would have lost the election, had he lost Ohio, which he
won by only 136,000 votes out of 5.4 million in that state. (Ohio awarded 20
votes in the Electoral College to Bush giving him 274 votes vs. 252 for
With that thin margin, almost any group can claim
credit for Bush's victory.
Pollster George Barna awards the honors to born again
Christians who backed the
President by 62 to 38 percent. By contrast, non-born again voters chose
Kerry by an almost identical 59-39 percent. What mattered was turnout. Barna notes that while
the born again population is only 38 percent of the national population, it represented 53
percent of the votes cast in the election.
Barna defines born again as people who have made a
"personal commitment to Jesus
Christ that is still important in their life today," and who believe they
will go to heaven since the confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their
Evangelicals are a subset of born again Christians who
are just 7 percent of voting age
population, but were 11 percent of the voters and chose Bush by an 85-15
In addition to being born again, Evangelicals say their
faith is very important in their life,
feel a responsibility to share their faith with non-Christians, state that
Satan exists, that Jesus lived a sinless life, that the Bible is totally
accurate in all it teaches and who describe God as the all-knowing
all-powerful perfect deity who created the universe and still rules
The online magazine Beliefnet, however, says the
Catholic vote "was just as important
and in crucial states, probably more so" than the Evangelical vote. In
Ohio Bush received 55 percent of the Catholic vote compared to 50 percent in
2000. That translates into 172,000 more Catholic votes in the Bush
column than in 2000, far more than Bush's 136,000 margin of victory.
"Among weekly Mass-goers in Ohio Bush took 65 percent
of the vote, 30 points more
than Kerry," writes the Culture of Life Foundation in Washington.
What's even more stunning is that Kerry, a practicing
Catholic, won only 47 percent of
Catholics and 43 percent of practicing Catholics. By contrast, the only
other Catholic nominees for President garnered almost twice a much: Al Smith
won 80 percent Catholics in 1928 and John Kennedy, 78 percent.
Of course, what troubled many Catholics - and scores of
Catholic bishops - was how
Kerry practiced his faith. He said repeatedly, "I respect the bishops, but I
disagree...on issues like a woman's right to choose or stem cell research."
Pope John Paul II, in a 1995 Encyclical wrote, "To
claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize
that right in law, means to attribute to human
freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over
others and against others. This is the death of true freedom..."
Based on that analysis, some bishops said they'd deny
Kerry Communion if he presented himself. Kerry stoutly replied that he
believed in "separation of church and
state," which won him admirers among Catholics who rarely attend Mass.
Interestingly, some bishops disagree with the majority
on the centrality of abortion.
Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton noted
that Bush said he stands "for a
culture of life in which every person counts and every being matters." While
"resonate deeply with Catholics," he noted the Catholic bishops wrote that
"any politics of
human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of
capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must address issues of
racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing and health care."
Gumbleton concluded, "Applying this agenda as the
guide, it is clear that the president's
words have not translated into action."
By contrast, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, Kerry's
home prelate, and three other
Massachusetts bishops argued on October 29, that the "Right to Life...is the
most basic human right upon which all our rights are contingent...We must
assert the most basic moral conviction that every human life is sacred from
conception to natural death. We must,
therefore, oppose on both moral and legal grounds, abortion, assisted
suicide and euthanasia."
As noted above, Ohio's weekly Mass attenders agreed and
voted 2-1 for Bush,
giving him the election.
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