Doug Mainwaring writes for LifeSiteNews : Bishop Robert Barron has joined a small chorus of prominent faith leaders and “conservative” voices obscuring the clear choices Catholics and other people of faith face in the rapidly approaching presidential election.
And while their chorus is indeed small — mostly high-profile “Never Trump” academics — they have large megaphones with which to spread their confused, off-key messages.
Barron published a murky, equivocating commentary on what he describes as the “intense dilemma” Catholics face with regard to their vote.
“Which of the two parties is more ‘Catholic’?” asked the Los Angeles auxiliary bishop. “It seems to me impossible to adjudicate the question in the abstract.”
“A Catholic in good conscience could never say that she will vote for Joe Biden because the Democrat is pro-choice, and by the same token, a Catholic in good conscience could never say that he will vote for Donald Trump because the Republican is for capital punishment,” asserted Barron.
“In the political calculus of a Catholic, opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment should take pride of place,” said Barron, finally allowing that “the number of those threatened by abortion and euthanasia is far greater than the number of those under threat of capital punishment.”
However, by the end, the vagueness of Barron’s commentary overwhelms this glimmer of moral clarity. The choice is not “impossible to adjudicate,” “political calculus,” or “complicated politically.” It is crystal-clear.
Barron is not the only one muddying the waters
“To vote for a candidate for president is to have an infinitesimal effect on the outcome of the election, but to wholly determine whom one wills to be president,” asserted Ramesh Ponnuru and Prof. Robert P. George, writing at National Review.
Ponnuru is a senior editor of National Review. Prof. George is the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and the director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
Their assertion echoes the words of Matthew Franck, whose animosity toward Donald Trump was so great that in 2016 that Franck urged, “Vote as if your ballot determines nothing whatsoever — except the shape of your own character.”
Franck is also associate director of the James Madison Program and lecturer in politics at Princeton University, working alongside Prof. George.
“Neither of us has endorsed Donald Trump,” admitted Ponnuru and George. “Both of us have been intensely critical of him on issues of personal character and, in some cases, public policy.”
These two towering figures in the world of conservative Catholicism then offered cover for Catholics to vote the “pro–abortion up until the moment of birth” Democratic ticket, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris:
We do not claim, as some have claimed, that Catholics and other pro-life citizens have an obligation to cast their ballot for him. The premises of the argument against abortion do not by themselves compel such a stance. People who share the view that the abortion license is a profound injustice on a massive scale that must be resolutely opposed can reach different conclusions about whether Trump deserves their vote.
Professors George and Franck are senior fellows at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. Witherspoon’s weekdaily publication, Public Discourse, recently ran a series of short essays by Catholic and Evangelical thinkers offering a “variety of perspectives on the difficult prudential question of how social conservatives should vote this November.”
And although, according to the editors at Public Discourse, “these authors all share a core commitment to Biblical and natural law morality,” three of the four were Never-Trumpers, rolling out the red carpet for Public Discourse’s conservative Christian readers to vote for Biden-Harris:
“Christian Witness Demands That We Defend Truth — and Reject Donald Trump,” blared the headline for Dr. O. Alan Noble’s article.
“To support Trump would require me to support four more years of epistemological chaos,” said Noble, associate professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. “To vote for four more years of this is to welcome and condone the further decay of our nation, and to accept the use of unmitigated propaganda.”
Brandon McGinley offered “A Christian case for not voting for either presidential candidate in 2020.
“The options this November, and the trajectories they promise, are not acceptable, and in choosing between them we risk forsaking our calling by soiling our witness,” said McGinley.
Charles C. Camosy, associate professor of theology at Jesuit-run Fordham University, then offered a rationale for voting for the American Solidarity Party, which begins with an unself-conscious litany of unsubstantiated accusations:
Donald Trump is totally incompetent at running the executive branch, a coddler of dictators, and an excuser of the Chinese genocide of Muslims. He gives comfort to racists and has lived his life as a disgusting sexist. I agree with Bishop Flores of Brownsville, Texas that his immigration policies constitute cooperation with intrinsic evil. He is now so associated with pro-life, anti-abortion activism and religious liberty that it will take decades for these movements to recover, particularly among young people.
We should, therefore, not vote for Trump-Pence.
Even the sole essay offering support — tepid support at best — for President Trump’s re-election bears the half-hearted headline, “Donald Trump and Our Heritage: Confessions of an Anti-Anti-Trumper.”
“‘Can this appallingly immature and vicious person really be my president?!’ I thought, as I rubbed my eyes,” wonders Ralph Hancock, professor of political science at Brigham Young University, in his opening paragraph.
Splitting the religious conservative vote for Trump to elect Biden/Harris
“Our friends at Public Discourse … are acting as if their goal is to split the religious conservative vote for Trump so that they can get Biden/Harris elected,” wrote Prof. Robert Gagnon in a searing critique posted on Facebook.
“They did a little symposium of articles, free of critique, on the coming presidential election in which 3 of the 4 invited contributors were variations of Never-Trumpism. Yet they didn’t find that imbalanced, apparently. Getting Biden/Harris in the White House may not be their goal; but it sure is the effect,” continued Gagnon, professor of New Testament theology at Houston Baptist University and former associate professor of the New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
“This isn’t even balanced from a neutral perspective, let alone sensible given what’s at stake,” said Gagnon. “Apparently they think this is a nice academic exercise without devastating consequences for Christians should Biden/Harris get in power.”
“What a disappointment,” he declared.
What is up with our once famed conservative Christian thinkers?
Grassroots conservative Catholics and Evangelicals — those kneeling in the pews, not standing behind lecterns at prestigious universities — have become, quite remarkably, clearer thinkers than many in the hand-wringing conservatives of the academic and media class.
Their contrived justifications for voting for anyone but President Trump fail to hide their naked, seething contempt for him.
They’ve discredited themselves, condemning the non-egghead pro-life, pro–marriage and family Christians who plan to vote for the President’s re-election for having soiled souls, while their souls are spotless.
Although they’ve assiduously avoided using the term, like Hillary Clinton, they regard trump supporters as “Deplorables.”