A political ad released this week targets a Catholic politician for not speaking out about the vandalism and violence against pro-life pregnancy centers and Catholic churches.
The ad attacks Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, for doing “nothing” while churches are “firebombed” and “radical liberals are acting like terrorists,” and it’s only the first commercial of its kind in a larger campaign from CatholicVote aiming to call out self-proclaimed Catholics, many in the Democratic Party, for not being in line with Catholic teaching.
Highlighting silence from Catholic politicians on suspected arson attacks against churches, as in the Axne ad, is only one aspect of the campaign from CatholicVote, president Brian Burch told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview.
“That’s one area we hope to highlight, is that their silence in the face of rampant violence nationwide signals something deeper, and far more worrisome, about the place of Catholic candidates inside the Democratic Party,” Burch said.
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But the overarching goal of the CatholicVote midterm campaign, which will see the campaign will see between $2.5 and $3 million in ad spending and target 10 -15 House races and several key senate races in the midterm election, is to help establish faithful Catholic politicians in government, and Burch sees a political shift happening that could put an end to the Catholic Democrat — typified by politicians who profess the faith, but hold vastly different views on moral issues than the church.
President Joe Biden, whose views on abortion have shifted dramatically to align with the platform of his party, is only the second Catholic to be elected to the presidency. According to Burch, Biden represents the last of a certain type of Catholic Democrat.
“This is a big historical shift; obviously for half a century, the Democratic Party was home of the Catholic vote — Catholic voters from immigrant class, to unions to working class,” Burch said. Many pro-worker policies that used to be the domain of the liberals are now being proposed across the GOP following former President Donald Trump’s populist ideas.
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In the midterms, Burch believes that control of the Senate will come down to key races that feature Catholic politicians. JD Vance, the Republican nominee for Senate in Ohio, converted to Catholicism in 2019. Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters was raised Catholic, Adam Laxalt — who would be the first Catholic senator from Nevada if he defeats Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. — as was Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has proposed a slate of pro-worker, pro-natalist policies in recent years.
If those Republicans win in November, “You’re going to have a kind of Catholic bloc that’s very different than the Catholic bloc that existed over the last 50 years,” Burch said.
Add in the signs of Hispanic and Latino voters — many of whom are Catholic — are moving toward the Republican Party, and Burch sees Catholics at the center of a new political era.
A key animating issue for Catholic and Evangelical Christians’ political advocacy has long been the pro-life movement, and with Roe being overturned, abortion will continue to be a crucial issue as Democrats push for federal abortion protections and Republicans consider a nationwide ban.
“Abortion is going to be at the center of this midterm, and it’s impossible to tell the abortion story in politics without talking about the Catholic story. The Catholic Church essentially helped launch the pro-life movement after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which interpreted abortion as a private act and therefore protected under the U.S. Constitution,” Burch said.
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“The Church has also been a big part of the pregnancy resource movement, which is now under attack,” he added. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) keeps a running list of incidents of suspected violence against parishes since 2020, ranging from repeated damage to sprinkler systems to graffiti and apparent arson. Radical pro-choice groups have taken responsibility for some of the attacks.
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Catholic voters have swung between parties in recent decades, and surveys of all Catholics show they are divided in terms of which party they support. The recent ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Womens Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and sent the issue of abortion to be decided by the states, caused some Catholics to express apprehension at the strong role conservative Catholic justices play on the Supreme Court.
Catholic commentator Maureen Dowd wrote after the draft Dobbs decision leaked in May that she “feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.”
To Burch, whose organization mainly focuses on mobilizing what he calls faithful, or regular Mass-attending Catholics, Roe’s end means an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats together to create policies that are more life affirming, beyond the issue of abortion.
Politics is an essential place for Catholics to be involved, Burch argued, because of the mission to create societies that are more caring, acting on Christian principles. Asked about the risk of aligning too closely to a single party, Burch suggested that it’s necessary to leverage politics, along with other aspects of culture, to spread the Church’s teaching and principles to create life-affirming, just societies.
“We now need to push the Republican Party, and I think you’re seeing this, to combine that moral principle with needed assistance for women and families,” Burch said.
“The potential for public policy has been unleashed now that the shackles of Roe v. Wade have been removed. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for the Republican Party to embrace women, children, families in a way that’s not just good for people and for the country, but certainly for its own political success,” he added.