The Corner


Catholics Alone?

Pope Francis arrives to celebrate mass at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, February 5, 2019. (Tony Gentile/Reuters)

One point I touch on in my column today is that Ahmari expresses a disparaging view of Evangelicals, which strikes me as very unwise given the magnitude of the cultural challenge facing social conservatives. Catholics aren’t going to be able to meet it alone. They are 20 percent of the population and have been losing numbers at an alarming rate. It’s doubtful conservative Catholics could impose “orthodoxy” on fellow Catholics in the U.S., let alone the public square of the entire county.

Consider political affiliation and social views. According to Pew, 37 percent of Catholics are Republican and 37 percent conservative. 48 percent think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Seventy percent think homosexuality should be accepted, and 57 percent strongly favor or favor gay marriage.

Then, there are deeper matters. Just 64 percent of Catholics say they believe in God with absolute certainty. Fifty-eight percent say religion is very important in their lives. 39 percent attend church weekly. Thirty percent look to their religion for guidance on right or wrong, and 30 percent believe that there are clear standards of right and wrong.

Now, just by way of comparison, take a look at Evangelicals. Fifty-six percent are Republicans and 55 percent are conservative. Sixty-three percent think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Fifty-five percent think homosexuality should be discouraged, and 63 percent strongly oppose or oppose same sex marriage.

Eighty-eight percent believe in God with absolutely certainty. Seventy-nine percent say religion is very important to their lives. Fifty-eight percent attend church once a week. Sixty percent say religion is their source of guidance on right and wrong, and 50 percent believe in absolute standards of right and wrong.

None of this is to cast aspersions on Catholics or make any theological claims, obviously, but to get to the fairly basic point that however we push back against progressive illiberalism –whether by defending our liberal institutions or trying to impose our values — it’s going to require a broad coalition of socially conservative believers. Sectarianism in this context is profoundly foolish and counter-productive.

(MBD, by the way, had an insightful column the other day on why Catholics and Evangelicals might have different perspectives on the culture war.)


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