When President John F. Kennedy was working for president in 1960, he needed to overcome some voters’ mistrust of his being a Catholic.
Sixty years later, the brand new U.S. president, Joe Biden, is Catholic, and his faith was by no means a marketing campaign situation. So is Speaker of the Home Nancy Pelosi. Based on Roll Name, 29% of the incoming Congress is Catholic, in comparison with 20% of the final inhabitants. Six of the 9 Supreme Court docket justices are Catholics, together with the latest, Justice Amy Coney Barrett. A seventh, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic however now attends an Episcopal church.
Which means Catholics are main two of the three branches of presidency on the federal stage and lead half of the third. The brand new Senate majority chief, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, is Jewish, as are the opposite two Supreme Court docket justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
Why is that this occurring? Dr. Hal Bass, professor emeritus of political science at Ouachita Baptist College, stated one issue is the expansion within the variety of Hispanic Individuals, who are typically Catholics and Democrats. One other is the truth that the Catholic Church has lengthy emphasised mental scholarship in its establishments, which helps create the pipeline for Supreme Court docket justices and decrease courtroom judges from each side of the political spectrum.
Bass stated a part of the story is the truth that Individuals now divide themselves alongside ideological traces quite than non secular ones. When Kennedy ran for president in 1960, Southern Baptists distrusted him due to his faith. However at present it might be extra about his politics. Today, politically like-minded Catholics and Protestants are extra aligned with one another than they’re with individuals who share their department of Christianity however have opposing political views.
In Arkansas, Catholics compose eight% of the state’s inhabitants. One of many state’s six members of Congress, Rep. French Hill, is Catholic, as are no less than eight of the 135 state legislators, in keeping with the Arkansas Legislature’s web site. (The affiliations of 18 legislators, most of them newly elected ones with restricted biographical data, aren’t listed. One other 10 are listed as “Christian,” “impartial Christian” or “Protestant.”) Half of the eight Catholics within the Legislature are Democrats, and half are Republicans.
In the meantime, Arkansas is a state with quite a lot of Baptists and much more Baptist elected officers.
About 25% of the state’s adults are Baptists, with Southern Baptists composing 17%, in keeping with the Pew Analysis Middle.
In the meantime, 4 of the state’s six members of Congress – Sen. John Boozman and Reps. Rick Crawford, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman – are Baptists, as are Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Governor Tim Griffin. Lawyer Normal Leslie Rutledge was raised Methodist however now attends the Church at Rock Creek, a Baptist church. At the very least 52 of the 135 state legislators are Baptists, together with Speaker of the Home Matthew Shepherd, R-El Dorado, and Senate President Professional Tempore Jimmy Hickey, R-TexARKana.
No different non secular affiliation comes shut. Methodists are the second most represented denomination in Arkansas politics on the state stage. Sen. Tom Cotton is a Methodist, as are 14 state legislators – six of them Democrats. Eleven legislators are members of the Church of Christ.
The opposite legislators are divided amongst different affiliations. As examples, three are members of the Assemblies of God, two are Lutherans, and two are Mormons.
I assume an fascinating query to reply could be, why are there extra Catholic elected officers nationally than there are Catholics, and why are there extra Baptist elected officers in Arkansas than there are Baptists in Arkansas? And will a number of the causes be comparable?
Perhaps many citizens nonetheless need candidates to be affiliated with one thing, even when the voters aren’t. Perhaps candidates win extra races when they’re members of massive denominations. And, it should be stated, some successful candidates in all probability select to affiliate with huge denominations for political causes. This column has been about faith, however faith shouldn’t be the identical as true religion.
That’s not one thing I can choose of people. I need to take away this beam from my very own eye earlier than I fear concerning the motes in others, together with politicians.
Steve Brawner is a syndicated columnist who focuses on Arkansas politics. He’s a daily contributor to Discuss Enterprise and a frequent panelist on Arkansas PBS’s public affairs present, “Arkansas Week.” He publishes a weblog, independentarkansas.com . Electronic mail him at email@example.com . Observe him on Twitter at @stevebrawner .