The Catholic News Agency reported that on Friday presumptive Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan called the recent “federal mandate that requires most employers to offer health insurance plans that offer contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs… [an] assault on our religious liberties.” The comment came in a conference call held with a group called Catholics2012.org:
In an August 17 conference call organized by the online fundraising group Catholics2012.org, Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) said that he tries to apply the teachings of his Catholic faith to his work. . .
The vice presidential candidate also discussed religious liberty concerns that have taken center stage in the Catholic community over the last several months.
The concerns center around a federal mandate that requires most employers to offer health insurance plans that offer contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
The mandate has drawn criticism from groups representing a wide variety of religious and political backgrounds. It is currently the subject of numerous lawsuits throughout the country.
Critics of the mandate have said that it infringes upon religious freedom and could force Catholic hospitals, schools and charitable institutions to shut down rather than violate their sincerely-held religious convictions.
Ryan warned that this “assault on our religious liberties” constitutes “a serious threat to all peoples of faith.”
The vice presidential contender cautioned that the philosophy behind such actions “seeks to displace civil society” and “crowd out our social mediating institutions,” such as churches, charities and hospitals.
These are “groups that connect the person to the community,” he explained, and they play a role in implementing the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and the preferential option for the poor that should be practiced in civil society.
Ryan said that he “shudder(s) to think what the world could look like” if President Obama is re-elected and his administration is able to continue eroding religious liberty.
There is a need for practicing Catholics to “get the word out” on these important issues, he said.
The recently formed Catholics2012.org organization has set a goal of raising $1 million from Catholics for the Romney-Ryan team by August 30th. In the week since Romney named Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate, it’s raised slightly more than $387,000.
US News and World Report reported that Ryan’s statement comes in the context of an ongoing battle between “social justice Catholics and pro-life church goers.”
But there is another political war raging within the church that could play well for Ryan.
When the president announced earlier this year that religious institutions’ healthcare plans were required to offer birth control to employees, dioceses across the country spoke out. In May, 43 Catholic institutions from universities like Notre Dame and other social service groups filed lawsuits against the Obama administration over the rule.
And just like leadership is diverse, so is the Catholic constituency.
Catholics account for nearly one in four voters in this country and in a May Gallup poll, Catholic voters were “evenly split” between Obama and Romney with white Catholics favoring Romney by nearly twenty points and Hispanic Catholics opting for Obama by 50.
No doubt both presidential campaigns will be battling it out for the key constituency, but Catholics are not a monolithic group. Mass-attending Catholics tend to vote more conservatively than less religious Catholics, and ethnicity reveals a major political schism within the church. . .
Catholics make up a third of the population in critical swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
With Catholics comprising such a large segment of the voters in four of the most critical swing states, the battle between “social justice” Catholics and “pro-life church going” Catholics will continue to play a key role in the 2012 Presidential election over the next eleven weeks.
Michael Patrick Leahy is a Breitbart News contributor, Editor of Broadside Books’ Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, and author of Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement.