Evangelicals and Catholics in Alliance to Elect Democrats
By Anne Hendershott
Evangelicals and Catholics have much in common as they share the same basic view of God. Acknowledging these common bonds in 1994, Evangelical and Catholic leaders signed the document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT). Since that time, there have been successful ecumenical initiatives—especially in the pro-life arena. The 40-Days for Life Campaign has been a successful alliance of pro-life Evangelical Christians and Catholics to protect the unborn.
During the past few years however, a parallel and far more political ecumenical effort has emerged which the signers of the 1994 ECT document did not anticipate. Led by progressive Evangelicals like Jim Wallis, and Catholic groups like the George Soros-supported Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, this new ecumenical initiative seems to be promoting Democratic policies and politicians.
Most recently, Catholics in Alliance teamed with Evangelical groups like the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, and Evangelicals for Social Action, as well as ecumenical groups like Faithful America and Faith in Public Life (which actually sponsors Faithful America) to help pass progressive legislation like the recent health care reform, and the new financial regulations on banks and other financial institutions.
While Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is described on its website as a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization, it is clear that the goals of their organization mirror many of those of the Democratic Party. In fact, National Catholic Reporter contributor, Michael Sean Winters recently wrote of Catholics in Alliance that “Washington has long needed a progressive Catholic advocacy organization like CACG. Had it been in place before 2004, the nation might have been spared four more years of George W. Bush’s disastrous tenure…CACG is here now and they are doing good and important work.”
Much of that “good and important work” by the CACG has been to help pass Democratic-led legislation and elect Democratic politicians—even when that Democratic-led legislation is counter to Church teachings on life issues, and the Democratic politicians they promote have consistently defied Catholic teachings on abortion rights and the sanctity of marriage.
Morna Murray, the new leader of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has benefited from her strong Democratic Party ties throughout her career. She was formerly employed as the senior counsel and policy advisor to Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a politician who was elected to office by representing himself as pro-life, yet who has disappointed the pro-life community with his support for abortion. In addition to her work for Casey, Murray has additional experience in promoting Democratic policies and politicians throughout her career. Like her predecessor, Alexia Kelly, who now works within the Obama administration as the Director of the federal Health and Human Services Department’s Center for Faith Based and Community Initiatives, Murray can expect to be well-rewarded for her work at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Even Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association, acknowledged Murray’s political expertise in an interview for the National Catholic Reporter: “Morna’s distinguished background in advocacy and public policy, coupled with her passion for social justice make her an ideal fit for the Alliance.”
Now, some longtime employees of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have joined Faith in Public Life. John Gehring, Senior Writer and Outreach Coordinator for Faith in Public Life had worked for more than three years at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Likewise, Nick Sementelli, Communications Associate for Faith in Public Life also worked for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
Now, these groups have begun a well-organized attack on conservative radio host, Glenn Beck. David Gushee, Chair of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good has written on his website that Glenn Beck “has offended all Christians who know that our God is a God of justice.” Gushee claims that Beck has managed to “unite Catholics and Protestants, evangelicals and mainliners, Christian progressives and moderates and conservatives…He has offended all Christians.”
It is more accurate to say that the progressive groups Gushee is referring to were united already in their opposition to what Beck stands for. In March, while he was still working for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, John Gehring published an angry article on the Washington Post website entitled “What Catholics Can Teach Glenn Beck” which cites Pope Benedict’s encyclical on economic justice to denigrate Beck.
Now, Faithful America (which was recently redesigned, relaunched, and sponsored by Faith in Public Life) is planning protests of Beck for late summer. Purchasing radio ads, the group has launched a major attack on Beck asking, “Why do so many Christians tune into Glenn Beck?” Claiming that Beck attacks Christian pastors for preaching the full gospel, the radio ad implies that Christians should not listen to Beck and what they call his “piecemeal gospel.”
It is likely that this newly invigorated Catholic and Evangelical alliance will grow as these organizations continue to pool personnel and strategies to promote the same progressive ideologies for the upcoming election season.