Recently the organization ‘Catholic Vote’ issued a statement in which they accused the Democratic Party of fueling a climate of hate against Catholics. And called on Biden “to stand up to the rising climate of anti-Catholicism across the country.”

We all can join together and condemn the destruction of any house of worship without resorting to fearmongering.

I don’t seem to recall Catholic Vote issuing similar statements when mosques and synagogues were being vandalized. I must have missed when they issued a statement condemning President Trump for prompting violence against Muslims. I did however see on their website a video which suggests that Black Lives Matter supporters are terrorists.

Catholic Vote is a political organization with no formal ties to the Catholic Church. They brag about using geofencing technology. A technology that uses smartphone apps to identify where people are or the places they frequent, geofencing allows marketers to use that information to send messages advertising goods or services in a particular locale. 

Catholic Vote has used this technology to track and identify smartphones that entered church property, whenever Catholics enter a church. They use this information to target people with political ads for or against a particular candidate.

As a group that claims to be a religious organization, they appear to be in violation of federal law. But even more disturbing is the idea that they are violating the privacy of Catholics.

I don’t think any Catholic – whether they are a conservative, liberal or something in between – would feel comfortable about an organization keeping track of their church-going habits for political purposes. I consider that to be the epitome of anti-Catholicism.

Catholic Vote is part of a right-wing Catholic movement that is trying to promote the false narrative that there is an anti-Catholic bias in the US.

They try to prove their point by throwing around the term “religious freedom”, suggesting that their religious freedom is being violated by those supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community, or not allowing prayer in school.

Religious freedom is one of those catch-all phrases that gets thrown about without any real understanding of its meaning.

The USCCB has been pushing this idea that there is a move to violate their religious freedom for a while now. A few years ago, they started Fortnight for Freedom as a way to enhance the culture wars.

Religious freedom debates stopped being about the freedom to practice our faith and more about using our faith to discriminate against others. They are now at the epicenter of the culture wars.

But this is not a new phenomenon.

In 1840 the Catholic bishop of South Carolina, John England, wrote to the Secretary of State, claiming that slavery was justified in the Bible and a part of the Catholic faith. To do away with slavery would be a violation of religious freedom.

In 2019, a biracial couple were planning on getting married.  They approached a wedding hall about having their reception. The hall refused them saying interracial marriage was against the Bible and therefore it would be a violation of their religious freedom to allow such an event at their hall.

My mom would often use the expression, “be careful what you wish for”. Those using the precept of religious freedom to fight a culture war might give that some consideration.

A few years ago there was a case working its way through the lower courts. It was filed by a religious group who argued the view that marriage is a necessary foundation of their belief and that promoting their understanding of marriage constitutes a core tenet of their religious mission.

They argued that to deny a same-sex couple the right to participate in the sacrament of marriage was a violation of their religious freedom. As a result of the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage the case became moot. I wonder how groups would have responded if the case made it to the Supreme Court. Would they have argued in favor of religious freedom? I think not.

Your right to practice your faith as you believe does not give you the right to discriminate against my faith beliefs.

If Catholic Vote was serious about stopping a so called anti-Catholic bias they would have been vocal in condemning the arrest of Scott Warren, who was arrested for practicing his faith by providing water and food to refugees crossing the border.

They would have been screaming about the anti-Catholic bias when I, with many Catholic sisters, priests and lay leaders, were arrrested for practicing our faith by praying in the Capitol to protest the separation of children from their parents at the border.

Perhaps when Catholic Vote issues a similar statement condemning Trump’s anti-Catholic actions they will have more credibility.

The decision to turn away immigrants seeking asylum – and separate children from their families – at the US-Mexico border does not reflect Catholic values.

The decision to cut federal aid to our nation’s poorest families – most recently by announcing major budget cuts to the food stamps program, affordable housing efforts, student loan aid, and Medicaid – does not reflect Catholic values.

The decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and to rescind environmental regulations leading to the destruction of God’s wondrous creation does not reflect Catholic values.

Support of the death penalty does not reflect Catholic values.

The constant degrading of women, minorities, the poor, lying and use of hateful language degrades Catholic values. Jesus taught us a message of love and peace. He walked with the poor and marginalized

St Francis of Assisi, considered one of our greatest saints, taught us that we are all brothers and sisters connected through God.

Robert McElroy, the Archbishop of San Diego, recently said: “Because our nation is in a moment of political division and degradation in its public life, character represents a particularly compelling criterion for faithful voting in 2020.”

Pope Francis tells us that an essential aspect of good politics is “the pursuit of the common good of all.” Spreading false information, fearmongering, promoting hatred and divisiveness is, in itself, spreading an anti-Catholic message.

More on Novena on the Catholic vote this November:

Also by Patrick Carolan: Cardinal Dolan leading Trump and the Republicans in prayer is a travesty of the gospel

Vatican archbishop issues plea not to ideologise pro-life cause as abortion becomes weapon in US presidential race

Fact check: Trump gets Christian theology upside-down with claim Biden presidency would “hurt God”

Progressive feminist Catholics urge US voters to “stem the tide of injustice and usher in a new era of equality”


Patrick Carolan is a Catholic activist, writer and speaker. Patrick currently serves as Director of Catholic Outreach for Vote Common Good. Previously he served as Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network and co-founded the Global Catholic Climate Movement. He has a strong commitment to Catholic social teachings, justice, anti-racism and peace, for which he has been arrested many times participating in nonviolent civil disobedience and organized and participated in hunger fasts. Patrick currently lives in Washington DC with his wife Stella. They have four children, two of which are adopted. They have also been foster parents to several other children.