A Catholic Crash Course in American Politics

Auguste Meyrat: One of the many benefits of Christian belief is the ability to transcend partisanship and seek solutions that respect the dignity and value of all people.

Last year, Pope Francis complained that the American Catholic Church has become too political. Instead of preaching the true faith, he claimed, certain clergy will use their spiritual authority to tell congregations how to vote and even weaponize the sacraments to pressure politicians into adopting certain policies.

If only that were true. In reality, most priests today avoid politics, leaving most Catholics to decide public questions for themselves. This has led to a broad political divide among today’s Catholics, resulting in numerous clashes between progressives and conservatives in recent years.

In all likelihood, many of these political differences could be reconciled and many public scandals avoided if Catholics were better informed. They could find common ground with their brothers and sisters in Christ, vote for policies and politicians that follow Church teachings, and support initiatives that improve the material and spiritual well-being of all Americans.

To this end, Catholic Vote, an organization devoted to educating Catholics on today’s political issues, has published For God, Country, and Sanity: How Catholics Can Save America, a collection of essays addressing some of the controversies facing voters this election year. It has something for every reader, and better still, it’s relatively short (180 pages). Overall, it’s exactly the kind of book that Catholics should read if they hope to save the nation before it descends into terminal decline.

In the introduction, Catholic Vote’s president, Brian Burch, lays out the stakes: “Some elections are huge turning points. 2024 is one of them.” This is because crime, poverty, drug abuse, illegal migration, suicide, and inflation have skyrocketed in the past few years while birthrates, church attendance, and institutional trust have plummeted. Burch makes it clear that this might be the last opportunity for American Catholics and their allies to make their voices heard and vote for change.

Two profound essays from First Things veterans Rusty Reno and Matthew Schmitz follow, which analyze today’s political landscape.

Reno argues that both political parties have been stuck in the 20th century, subscribing to “an ‘open society’ and ‘open economy’ consensus.” This approach made sense when confronting racial segregationists and communist dictatorships, but it is now undermining the very structures and ideas that enabled Americans to thrive: “our country suffers from the disintegration of moral, social, and political institutions, and the sound economic basis for middle-class prosperity has eroded.” Politicians and their constituents should finally abandon the old consensus, says Reno, and adopt a “politics of solidarity” that emphasizes “stability, order, and a sense of ‘home’ to the American people.”

In “How Gay Marriage Changed America,” Matthew Schmitz explains how today’s gender ideology, religious intolerance, political polarization, and radicalization are the direct consequences of Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex “marriage” in 2015. According to Schmitz, this was because “Gay marriage was the first great triumph of cancel culture,” giving an ongoing advantage to leftist activists willing to play dirty. Opponents of gay marriage didn’t lose the argument so much as they were “silenced, fired, or forced out of important institutions.”

Nine years later, the same cancellers now make up the radical Left, using the same tactics to pressure moderate liberals into increasingly extreme positions.

Other essays in the volume cover more specific issues: wokeness, feminism, environmentalism, education, immigration, the deep state, and abortion. Each does the important work of setting the record straight about where the Church stands on these issues. In short, the Church is always on the side of life, true happiness, and the common good – even as the Church’s reasoning is nuanced, appreciating the complexities of these subjects.

Two personal accounts that stand out: “Arrested by the FBI” by Mark Houck; and “Catholic in the FBI: How the Feds Weaponized Against the Church” by Kyle Seraphin. Both essays illustrate how the FBI and the DOJ are being mobilized against political opponents. Houck was a pro-life activist and father of seven whose house was invaded by FBI agents at dawn. Despite cooperating and posing no threat to anyone, FBI agents roughly took him into custody and threatened him with years in jail for a minor altercation he had with an abortion worker years earlier. Although he won his case and is now running for Congress, many others are currently languishing in jail for the crime of peacefully opposing abortion.

A former FBI agent, Seraphin describes how the agency has begun to surveil, harass, and intimidate law-abiding Americans. During his time as an agent, Seraphin first objected to taking the COVID-19 vaccine, citing religious exceptions, and later blew the whistle on the FBI targeting parents at school board meetings, pro-life activists, and “radical traditionalist Catholics.” For speaking out, he was suspended indefinitely without pay while the FBI continues these operations.

Two essays conclude with recommendations about how to help bring faithful Catholics to political engagement – beyond mere voting. In “Fake News: How to Navigate the Media,” Daily Signal reporter Mary Margaret Olohan offers ways for Catholics to read the news without falling prey to propaganda. And in the final essay, “So You Want to Be a Catholic Activist,” Peter Wolfgang gives practical guidance on how to actually fight the good fight – which includes reading Catholic commentary from The Catholic ThingCrisis Magazine, and First Things – three publications I happen to write for.

Although the book is far from comprehensive – I would have appreciated more input on the economy and culture – it manages to cover many crucial issues.

More importantly, each argument proceeds from a faith-centered perspective, not a partisan one. And this is as it should be. One of the many benefits of Christian belief is the ability to transcend partisanship and seek solutions that respect the dignity and value of all people. This is difficult in any age, but particularly the current one.

As the essays of For God, Country, and Sanity show, it’s still possible – indeed necessary – for all Americans, especially Catholics, to try.

You may also enjoy:

Hadley Arkes On the Moral Alchemy of the Political Party

George J. Marlin Rustbelt Catholics Voters Put Trump over the Top


Auguste Meyrat

Auguste Meyrat is an English teacher in the Dallas area. He holds an MA in Humanities and an MEd in Educational Leadership. He is the senior editor of The Everyman and has written essays for The FederalistThe American Thinker, and The American Conservative as well as the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *