Catholic Culture Podcasts
Catholic Culture Podcasts

A New Anti-Catholicism Evident in Political Campaigns

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 31, 2013

One of the more interesting developments in American political strategy that has emerged over the past few years is designed, at all costs, to keep committed Catholic politicians out of office. It works by relating everything a strong Catholic candidate does to his supposed desire to control your sexual behavior. It does not matter whether the candidate is really interested in legislation which controls sexual behavior, because this particular strategy is based on lies which have absolutely nothing to do with whatever the Catholic candidate has done recently or is proposing for the future.

Our Democratic Party seized upon this tactic during Barack Obama’s run for the Presidency and used it effectively in state and Federal elections to minimize effective opposition to Democratic policies both within the states and in Congress. I’m noticing it particularly this year because the gubernatorial race in my state, Virginia, features a Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, who happens to be strongly committed to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church. The ads run by his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, have consisted almost exclusively of claims that Cuccinelli hates women and wants to control what goes on in everybody’s bedroom.

None of this relates to any policy or legislation that Cuccinelli has ever proposed or supported, nor to any vision that he has articulated in any of his campaigns. Enormous wealth is being poured into these attack ads for one reason and one reason only: Cuccinelli actually has strong Catholic values that he will not deny for the sake of political success, and in the absence of a powerful smear campaign he was calculated to win.

The same thing has happened to Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, a personal friend, who has capably represented his district in the Virginia House of Delegates for many years. Marshall too is a staunch Catholic, who does not hide his values. Every so often, then, the Democratic opposition throws massive funds from around the country into defeating him. This year is one of those campaigns, in which his opponent has easy access to three or four times the spending money that Marshall can raise locally, and pours it into scare-claims that Marshall wants to enter your bedroom and steal your contraceptives.

Actually it is even worse than that, as the opposition claims that the purpose of a bill Marshall has introduced is to ban birth control—which is not only patently false, but actually impossible without an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Bob Marshall is incredulous that such claims can be made. But this is the reigning strategy for the defeat of believing Catholic politicians.

It is well beyond the non-profit Catholic purposes of to advocate for the election of particular political candidates. What concerns me is the rapidly spreading campaign strategy of using bald-faced lies to turn the electorate against any candidate who adheres to Catholic values, a strategy which is particularly evident this year in my own backyard. More information about these campaign tactics can be found at and

It seems that the anti-Catholic bigotry which has plagued American history is emerging once again under the guise of secularist fear-mongering. Unfortunately, Catholics now have imposed upon them the task of exposing and uprooting a vicious mythology growing at the heart of our political culture.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: impossible - Nov. 07, 2013 3:50 PM ET USA

    Jeff, your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I'm just interested in not allowing their feet to be too far away from the fire and the light. Thanks as always for your good work.

  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Nov. 06, 2013 5:19 PM ET USA

    To impossible: It feels somewhat odd to be accused of failing to mention the bishops, as I have written so very frequently that bishops exceed their brief in going beyond the teaching of moral principles to advocating particular policies; that they of all people should not accept the myth that we must turn to government to meet every need; and that encouraging the growth of the secular State for any reason now is extraordinarily dangerous. Still, people can differ on strategy, which is ordinarily a prudential matter. In any case, things are slowly shifting: Our bishops talk as much now about resistance as about enlargement, when it comes to the Federal government. They are learning a hard lesson.

  • Posted by: impossible - Nov. 05, 2013 11:21 PM ET USA

    Jeff, what's missing in your writing is the obvious impact of the misfeasance, nonfeasance and malfeasance of our bishops, namely the USCCB. What is their motivation for helping the Democrats enlarge an already huge federal government - is it money? are they fellow travelers? are they stupid? are they naive, or what? Like Esau, have they traded our nation and its culture for a bowl of pottage?

  • Posted by: Defender - Nov. 04, 2013 11:32 AM ET USA

    There has been little leadership from the bishops, each seems to have their own agenda/interest - none of which has to do with correcting CINO politicians. Cardinal Dolan leads the pact with his Al Smith Dinners with Obama and, recently, Cuomo. His visit to a mosque where he stated, "You love God, we love God and he is the same God" causes the Faithful to give pause. And then there are the CINO schools... There are so many self-inflicted wounds that hurt us all.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Nov. 03, 2013 1:05 AM ET USA

    The Bishops in general lost all credibility years ago. Even someone as astute as Cardinal Dolan was snookered by the president. We are fast approaching the time when only the blood of martyrs will solve our nations problems.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Nov. 02, 2013 11:47 PM ET USA

    Whether Mr. McA is Catholic or not is really less troubling to me than seeing a 3rd Reich tactic being used to such advantage. Once the 'enemy' has been identified, the truth about his/her Faith is of no importance.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Nov. 02, 2013 4:18 PM ET USA

    You can look up in CARA that Catholics have voted for 7 pro-abortion Democrats in presidential elections in a row (including 3 losers Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry) and not voted for the pro-life candidates. The seeds of confusion among Catholics were planted by the voice of JFK in 1960 and the silence of the bishops on the moral consequences of a politician's support for the murder of the unborn. Catholics are just ignorant sheep without a shepherd.

  • Posted by: pauper servus et humilis - Nov. 01, 2013 8:44 PM ET USA

    Perhaps devout Catholic men running for office should become articulate in the negative environmental impact of oral contraceptives feminizing fish in our water and to date no municipal water system has been able to find a remedy. A slogan such as "if you don't want to eat GMO's why aren't you using Natural Family Planning?" ALL Catholics should be extremely competent in the details of these things... including sexual imprinting which is the intended result of virginity, fidelity and monagamy!

  • Posted by: unum - Nov. 01, 2013 9:15 AM ET USA

    The fact that Cuccinelli's opponent is a graduate of Catholic University and claims to be a "Roman Catholic" (Wikipedia) creates the spectacle of anti-Catholicism by a Catholic in name only (CINO). Anti-Catholic bigotry by political CINO's is a scandal the bishops have failed to deal with, creating much moral and political confusion among the faithful.

  • Posted by: Nuage - Oct. 31, 2013 11:18 PM ET USA

    This is a very insightful piece by Dr. Mirus. It is important to note, however, that were the Catholic leadership in this country doing their job, and the Faith were accurately being taught from the pulpit, in schools, and in the Press, politicians who attack the Catholic Church and seek to undermine or destroy Catholic beliefs would never be able to come to power. Catholics themselves are putting these anti-Catholic politicians in office. Pres. Obama was honored and given a PhD by Notre Dame!

  • Posted by: Defender - Oct. 31, 2013 5:31 PM ET USA

    What makes things worse is that no one reads anymore and voting for one single party has become a reflex. I remember a congressional race where an opponent said he wouldn't discuss foreign policy with his opponent because he knew too much. Did this hit the papers? No, the voters in the area are heavily of one political persuasion and so are the TV stations.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Oct. 31, 2013 3:19 PM ET USA

    A while ago, RI Democrat David Carlin wrote a book entitled "Can a Catholic be a Democrat"? His answer was no; that party is now in the hands of people who are anti-Catholic and whose ideology is evil. On the other hand, the GOP is little better, tied as it is to economic and military notions that, when not thoroughly immoral, are amoral. I agree with Carlin. For that reason, with one exception, I have abstained from voting for 20 years. (So sickening is Obama, I voted AGAINST him in 2012.)