Catholics’ crucial last minute support for Donald Trump

According to a Washington Times report, most Catholics did not decide their vote for Donald Trump until the last moment when ‘in one of the most profound demographic shifts’ witnessed in US elections many swung their support behind Trump. Exit polls showed that the crucial Catholic demographic went to Trump 52% against Hillary Clinton 45% while until then most surveys had shown Catholics solidly behind Clinton. What happened? Jay Richard, executive editor of the conservative Christian website The Stream, is quoted as saying that the ‘turning point’ came in the third debate when Trump’s pro-life stance contrasted dramatically with Clinton’s pro-choice stance.

There was not a Catholic that watched who could not remember the ghoulishness of Hillary Clinton when it came to partial-birth abortion and Trump’s impassioned commonsense defence of unborn human life. It was huge.

Perhaps the third debate was the clincher, but Trump’s letter dated 5 October to Gail Buckley, President of the Catholic Leadership Conference, had surely to be the breakthrough in bringing Catholics to reconsider their allegiance. In that letter he addressed the major concerns of the ordinary Catholic after explaining how fiercely Clinton was in opposition to Catholic teaching and Catholic interests. He wrote unambiguously:

On issues and policies of greatest concern to Catholics, the differences between myself and Hillary Clinton are stark. I will stand with Catholics and fight for you. Hillary Clinton has been openly hostile to these core Catholic issues for a long time, and is only going to be worse with Tim Kaine now following her lead.

On life, I am, and will remain, pro-life. I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions. I will make absolutely certain religious orders like The Little Sisters of Poor are not bullied by the federal government because of their religious beliefs. I will protect and work to expand educational choice, the rights of homeschooling families, and end Common Core [educational program]. I will repeal and replace Obamacare so you can have better and more affordable health care. I will keep our country and communities safe while respecting the dignity of each human being. I will help Catholic families and workers, and all families and workers, by bringing jobs back to our country where they belong. And I will appoint Justices to the Supreme Court who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench, like Justice Clarence Thomas and the late and beloved great Catholic thinker and jurist, Justice Antonin Scalia.

There can be no doubt that Catholics in Trump’s support group like incoming Vice-President Mike Pence had an influence on Trump, helping him to understand to what extent unrestrained state prejudice against Catholics everywhere in the Western world affects their daily lives.  Trump, however, could not make such a declaration without a sympathetic understanding and without understanding how deeply he had publicly committed himself. Indeed, the Catholic commitment paralleled Trump’s general commitment to those who had been the losers in the left’s ever increasing grip on the economic and social life of the peoples of the West.

There is a lesson here, too, for politicians in Australia. Australian Catholics suffer the same state discrimination. That state discrimination is nowhere more starkly exemplified than in legislation that enabled a member of the Australian Greens Party to bring a formal charge of discrimination under the legislation against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart for merely repeating the Church’s centuries-old teaching on marriage. That Greens member withdrew the charge, but we should be under no illusion that the decision to withdraw the charge was not for reasons of expedience. The resistance it aroused generally, not just from Catholics, was judged to be at that time counter-productive. When the time is propitious, the legislation, unless unchanged or repealed, will be used to disqualify not only Catholics, but all orthodox Christians.

The penal laws are still there – in disguise.

(See also LifeSite’s explanation for why Christians supported Trump.)

Gerard Wilson