In response to The Biden Administration Cloaks Itself in Catholicism
Alexandra’s post above expertly summarizes how Joe Biden is already leaning on his Catholic identity as a kind of political obfuscation concerning how he will act on abortion-related issues, and Ramesh explores some of the other contradictions of this outlook. But there is another kind of obfuscation in this area worth dwelling on: that of media outlets, who are already treating Biden’s faith quite differently from certain other presidents. See this tweet promoting a New York Times story about Biden’s religious identity:
President Biden is perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century. A different, more liberal Christianity grounds his life and his policies. https://t.co/G27AWibfSe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 23, 2021
The story itself writes of the public image of Biden’s faith in a predictably adulatory tone:
There are myriad changes with the incoming Biden administration. One of the most significant: a president who has spent a lifetime steeped in Christian rituals and practices.
Mr. Biden, perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century, regularly attends Mass and speaks of how his Catholic faith grounds his life and politics.
I may be young, but I am old enough to remember a president, in George W. Bush, who regularly invoked his Christian faith, who established a White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, and who even once told an audience of voters that his favorite philosopher was Jesus Christ. It’s also worth mentioning former president Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school teaching. As with much modern journalism, this analysis of Biden seems trapped in the present-tense.
If it weren’t, it may have included an account not merely of Bush’s religious identity, but of how the Left reacted to it then. The specter of theocracy was constantly lurking in the paranoid liberal imagination during Bush’s presidency. After the 2004 election, Democrats mockingly designated vast swaths of America “Jesusland.” You don’t even need to have a memories of 2004 to recall how the prospect of people of faith influencing public policy over the past four years inspired dark imaginings of a Handmaid’s Tale, or concerns about the “creeping autocracy” being advanced by conservative Catholics in concert with former president Trump.
This isn’t mere whataboutism. In a pluralistic, religious, and free society such as the United States, faith is a welcome factor in the lives of our elected leaders, including in Joe Biden. But it says something revealing that a particular kind of faith is anathema in the media, while another kind has its blessing.