Op-Ed by: Liam Edgar
For one of the few times in recent U.S. history, Joe Biden’s election has the mainstream media focused on faith – and not in the usual derogatory fashion.
Biden is a Catholic, and the media is being atypically deferential to his religious faith. That’s likely because he’s a Democrat, but also because Biden talks up the items on the Catholic menu that are more palatable to progressives.
In recent days, the Catholic media has begun to wonder which parish Biden will attend while in the White House. But that superficial issue matters less than how Biden, with the media’s help, may “redefine” Catholicism, as The Washington Post recently put it.
Biden, his wife, Jill, and many left-wing pundits hoisted his faith as a shield to deflect claims from conservatives that he belongs to an irreligious, if not anti-religious, and more specifically anti-Christian, party.
It’s true judgment of the human heart is reserved to God alone. It’s also true, as of the moment, that Catholics, like the rest of America, cannot know how Biden will rule.
But we do know what Biden, who called himself a “practicing Catholic,” articulated on his campaign’s website.
Those ideas, if he follows through, will likely spark a raucous debate among Catholics about whether their faith is subservient to politics.
Rod Dreher, who blogs for The American Conservative, noted this in his 2017 book, “The Benedict Option”: “The day is coming when the kind of thing that has happened to Christian bakers, florists, and wedding photographers will be much more widespread. And many of us are not prepared to suffer deprivation for our faith.”
Biden, with his stance on alleged LGBT discrimination, promises as much.
“The Trump-Pence Administration has deliberately and systematically attempted to gut protections for the LGBTQ+ community by carving out broad religious exemptions to existing nondiscrimination laws and policies across federal agencies,” says Biden’s plan to advance the LGBT agenda.
He promises to “reverse Trump’s policies misusing these broad exemptions and fight so that no one is turned away from a business or refused service by a government official just because of who they are or who they love.”
Speaking of the LGBTQ+ community, Biden underscores on his website with a bright rhetorical highlighter his “historic declaration” in support of gay marriage during a 2012 “Meet the Press” interview.
But Biden not only supports gay marriage, which is condemned by the Catholic Church, he also promotes the Equality Act as “the best vehicle for ensuring equal rights under the law for LGBTQ+ Americans.” He promises to enact it within his first 100 days in office.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, however, notes that in its attempt to make gender malleable, the bill would hurt Catholics in many ways.
The USCCB notes it would be a setback for women generally by forcing them to share “intimate” spaces with people born as men. Beyond that, Catholic healthcare providers, charities, adoption agencies, schools and even parishes themselves would be at risk of going against their conscience, or simply going under, if required to meet provisions of the Equality Act.
“Catholics oppose unjust discrimination or harassment that baselessly deprive any person of basic needs, goods, or dignity. Each and every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, as such, bears inviolable dignity,” the USCCB says.
But, “Widespread patterns of segregation or denial of basic goods, services, or opportunities to people who identify as ‘LGBT’ are not evident. On the contrary, ‘LGBT’ people today are often held in high regard in the market, as well as the academy, local governments, and media. … In other words, the country does not need a federal law about this.”
Concluding, the bishops add, “The Equality Act would gravely undermine the freedom of individuals and of religious organizations, impeding or preventing their good work, to the detriment of those organizations and the people whom they serve.”
Additionally, the former vice president opposes the Church’s teaching on abortion.
In June 2019 Biden abandoned the Hyde Amendment, the federal provision that blocks taxpayer-funded abortions, except in cases of rape or incest. Biden had supported the amendment for more than 40 years before flipping in an effort to win votes in the Democratic primary. Planned Parenthood even endorsed Biden, the “practicing Catholic,” for president.
As Vox reported at the time, Biden, as a young senator in the 1980s, had voted for bills that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. Yet, his transformation is complete, as his website promises not only an assault on the pro-life position, but on federalism itself.
“Biden will work to codify Roe v. Wade, and his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade,” it says, adding that as president, Biden “will reissue guidance specifying that states cannot refuse Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers and reverse the Trump Administration’s rule preventing these organizations from obtaining” federal funding.
When discussing health care, Biden vowed to reinvigorate all provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the signature achievement of the Obama-Biden administration. That places Catholic nuns among the first in his political crosshairs.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court torpedoed the ACA rule that forced religious groups to provide contraception coverage. At the heart of the case were the Little Sisters for the Poor, an organization of Catholic nuns who care for the elderly and impoverished in more than 30 countries.
The Sisters had battled the law for eight years. After the high court’s ruling, Biden immediately announced that, if elected, he would reinstate the rule on his first day in office. His website says his administration will provide an exemption for houses of worship and an “accommodation” for nonprofit organizations with “religious missions.” Yet the man has long had an arm’s length relationship with the truth, and so far he has rarely demonstrated he can resist the worst impulses of the woke brigades in his ranks.
Concerning education, one would be hard pressed to find a better ally of school choice and Catholic schools than Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary. Her support for educational choice has been significantly important to Catholic parents and schools, as well as parents of minority children, especially in developing plans to underwrite tuition at such institutions.
For instance, in another Supreme Court ruling in June, Espinoza vs. Montana Department of Revenue, DeVos and Attorney General Bill Barr strongly praised the decision as the death knell for Blaine amendments, the 19th century anti-Catholic laws that allowed state governments to discriminate against religious schools by denying them access to public funding. And earlier this year, DeVos announced that coronavirus relief funding would be available to private schools on par with public schools, which drew applause from the National Catholic Educational Association.
Biden’s website is skimpy on school choice. But it is long on boosting pay for public school teachers and spending on public education, and that, coupled with his support from teachers’ unions – one of Biden’s possible picks to succeed DeVos is the head of a teachers’ union – indicates where his loyalties lie.
But Catholics should be able to gauge Biden’s perspective on those who share his faith by looking on his website at “the Biden plan for the Catholic Community.”
According to that, he apparently believes the Catholic faith revolves around economics.
Biden, it says, “knows that we need to rebuild the middle class, and this time make sure everybody comes along – regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.”
In another section, he touts raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and “making sure the super-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share” by repealing President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts. He also pledges to “encourage and incentivize unionization and collective bargaining,” because “CEOs and Wall Street are putting profits over workers, plain and simple.”
One wonders what wealthy Catholics, Catholic CEOs and Wall Street operatives following the Roman Church think of being defined as such.
Other pieces of Biden’s “Catholic Community” agenda include:
- Shoring up Medicare and Social Security
- Expanding Obamacare options and providing a public option on health care
- Prioritizing “a comprehensive immigration reform to finally give 11 million undocumented immigrants a roadmap to citizenship”
- And pushing “to achieve a 100 percent clean energy economy” that “reaches net zero emissions no later than 2050.”
Undoubtedly, millions of American Catholics support such things, and likely voted for the former vice president because he advocated for them.
But, if the Church believes anything, it is that bread alone is insufficient to fulfill man’s needs. As the old Baltimore Catechism says, “We must take more care of our soul than of our body.”
In other words, Biden clearly eschews the spiritual underpinnings of the Church by ignoring the necessity of advocating pro-life positions, promoting Catholic education, defending religious liberty or, given radical activists’ attacks this summer on Catholic churches and icons, denouncing religious bigotry and intolerance.
For all his many faults, Trump was solidly on board with the ideas that conservative Catholics gravitate to.
When he leaves, it will be fair to ask what faith Catholics should have in Biden to protect their interests.