Joe Biden’s campaign desperately wants religious voters, particularly Catholics.
Biden, after all, would only be the nation’s second Catholic president — although, given his interesting views on the sanctity of life, he may well lose the Catholic vote and lose it substantially.
While the data isn’t necessarily clear, Biden isn’t running away with the Catholic vote. A Pew Research survey conducted between July 27 and Aug. 2 indicated 50 percent of American Catholics planned to vote for President Trump while 49 percent intended to vote for Biden. There were wide differences when comparing how white Catholics planned to vote (59 percent to 40 percent for Trump) versus Hispanic Catholics (65 percent to 33 percent for Biden), and Pew’s sample consisted of registered voters, not likely voters.
There’s another problem with those numbers: In several major swing states, Roman Catholicism is the largest faith group. According to The Washington Post, Catholics in Arizona, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin made up one-quarter or more of residents as of 2015. (Residents in Florida, the biggest swing-state prize, were 22 percent Catholic — still the largest faith group in the state.)
Winning Catholic votes is of paramount importance to the Biden campaign — and in mid-September, the group revealed three dozen co-chairs of its Catholics for Biden outreach effort.
You’ve likely heard of several. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, was the most prominent name. Former Democratic National Committee head Donna Brazile, Obama-era U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, California Rep. Ted Lieu, Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey and Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro were all on the list, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
There were a few Kennedys on there, too, because apparently the Catholics haven’t suffered enough over the past 60 years.
With a roster like that, it was easy for professor, author and theologian Anthea Butler to fly under the radar.
Butler’s an accomplished religious scholar, not only on Catholicism but also evangelical Christianity. Her opinion probably doesn’t resemble yours.
A quick way to illustrate this would be to merely report the title of her forthcoming book, “White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America.”
(Biden, Axios reported last week, is pushing a message “in his stump speech that says he won’t be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.” Whatever assistance Butler is offering the Biden campaign, my assumption is that it doesn’t involve speech writing.)
Without going into esoteric and inconsequential exceptions to this rule, evangelicals aren’t Catholics — although it’s discouraging to see someone with Butler’s opinions trying to reach out to Christian voters.
Unfortunately, Butler’s problems in this vein go well beyond white evangelicals and extend to white Republicans, as well.
Butler said in a recent Twitter thread that the Republican Party wasn’t actually a party but instead an “ideology that has merged with the poisonous element of Trumpism” to “kill Democracy and America,” and that Trumpism is a “virus” on the level of COVID-19.
And although she’s a co-chair of Catholics for Biden, she’s not big on ecumenicism.
“I had a talk with a dear friend of mine who is a priest who is down for the people. White, male, academic. He still thought we could do that reach across the aisle BS. Folks, that day is over. We must make sure the Republican party is in tatters after the election,” she tweeted in August, shortly after Biden picked California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.
“The republican party on every local state and national level must be defeated. It is not a party anymore, it is an ideology that has merged with the poisonous element of Trumpism and conspiracy theories like Q Left to continue to fester, the party will kill Democracy and America.
“America is not only fighting the coronavirus. It is fighting a virus of racism, selfishness, and craven gain that is destroying our nation. That virus is Trumpism. Time to bring that virus of evil, stupid, asinine racism and self aggrandizement to heel.”
The republican party on every local state and national level must be defeated. It is not a party anymore, it is an ideology that has merged with the poisonous element of Trumpism and conspiracy theories like Q Left to continue to fester, the party will kill Democracy and America
— ProfB (@AntheaButler) August 12, 2020
America is not only fighting the coronavirus. It is fighting a virus of racism, selfishness, and craven gain that is destroying our nation. That virus is Trumpism. Time to bring that virus of evil, stupid, asinine racism and self aggrandizement to heel.
— ProfB (@AntheaButler) August 12, 2020
Once you’re brought to heel, America, we can truly begin to heal and unify. Got that?
But what happens if we’re not brought to heel on Nov. 3? Butler said liberals should “be prepared like Belorussians to get out in the streets. Because we may very well have to.”
I’m a bit hazy on how Butler believes we’re supposed to get waffling Catholics over to the Democratic Party by informing them that one party in a two-party state needs to be crushed and that, if it’s not, they need to be prepared to take to the streets like the protesters in Minsk demanding the overthrow of Alexander Lukashenko — a brutal, authoritarian kleptocrat who has presided over a de facto one-party state for 26 years.
I’m also not sure what this has to do with God, but our conception of him might be different than Butler’s; in 2013, in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal, she referred to the Almighty as a “white racist.”
“God ain’t good all of the time. In fact, sometimes, God is not for us. As a black woman in a nation that has taken too many pains to remind me that I am not a white man, and am not capable of taking care of my reproductive rights, or my voting rights, I know that this American god ain’t my god,” she wrote at the time.
“As a matter of fact, I think he’s a white racist god with a problem. More importantly, he is carrying a gun and stalking young black men.
“When George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that it was God’s will that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, he was diving right into what most good conservative Christians in America think right now. Whatever makes them protected, safe, and secure, is worth it at the expense of the black and brown people they fear.
“Their god is the god that wants to erase race, make everyone act “properly” and respect, as the president said, “a nation of laws”; laws that they made to crush those they consider inferior.”
Take from that what you will. Whatever it is you think she’s trying to say, there isn’t really a good interpretation of those comments.
Anthea Butler has no intention of reaching across the aisle, and the Biden campaign knew that when it chose her to co-chair Catholics for Biden.
The campaign’s assumption is that Catholics — and everyone else — doesn’t pay attention to this. They should, and just because of the affront to the Christian faith.
Joe Biden says he “won’t be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.” That’s touching (if boilerplate) rhetoric.
Candidates who believe that, however, should have no truck with the Anthea Butlers of the world.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.