John Gehring is Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life Action and the author of The Francis Effect: A Radical Pope’s Challenge to the American Catholic Church. Here is a taste of his Religion News Service piece “Trump Woos Catholics on Abortion but May Lose Them on Life“:
Trump’s Catholic campaign may tout his record of appointing anti-abortion judges — the president has installed more than 100 judges to the federal bench in addition to appointing Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, both reliable votes to overturn or chip away at abortion rights. But many Catholic bishops and leaders of Catholic agencies play an outsized humanitarian role in aiding immigrants and have strongly denounced the administration’s extreme immigration policies and cruel treatment of migrant families.
For these Catholics, the president’s xenophobia clashes with their own immigrant history. As late as John F. Kennedy’s 1960 presidential campaign, an Irish-American Catholic running for president was viewed with deep suspicion.
This history and resonant cultural memory could, in part, explain why even some white Catholics who voted for Trump in 2016 seem unsettled by the president’s obsession with demonizing migrants. In 2018 focus groups conducted in Macomb County, Michigan, with Republicans and GOP-leaning independent Catholic conservative men who voted for Trump, the Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg described what he called “Trump conflicted Catholics” as particularly anguished over separated immigrant families.
“Everybody’s concerned with the families being torn apart,” one focus group participant said. “You know, to take a child away from a mother or father and put them somewhere where they’re isolated away from their parents.” One voter described family separation as a form of “kidnapping.”
The Trump administration’s profile on immigration won’t be helped by new visa regulations issued this week, making it more difficult for pregnant immigrant women to travel to the United States.
Pope Francis is unequivocal that the “lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute” are as “equally sacred” as the unborn in the womb. The administration’s gutting of environmental protections, reinstatement of federal executions and shameful treatment of children in migrant shelters demonstrate a callous indifference to the sanctity of life that Catholic voters who oppose abortion should not ignore.
For Catholics, neither political party nor any candidate perfectly reflects our church’s teachings about human dignity and respect for all life. But it’s hard to see how a president who chronically lies, targets communities of color and brazenly ignores the Gospel’s clear command to welcome immigrants has earned the right to be considered the best choice for values voters.
Read the entire piece here.