How many voters know that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a Roman Catholic? Or that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a Southern Baptist, not a Latino Catholic? Or that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio worships at both a Catholic parish and an evangelical church?
More importantly, does it matter?
Actually, it does in today’s Republican Party, where a number of factors have forged a new religious identity that supersedes familiar old categories.
These prominent Republicans are emblematic of the new religious amalgam that, in many instances, has helped refashion denominational differences that were once almost insurmountable. Look no further than the stunning Virginia primary victory of Dave Brat, a Catholic with degrees from a Reformed Protestant college in Michigan and Princeton Theological Seminary, who took down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week.
What I find strange (but not surprising) about the article is that it ignores Rick Santorum. Rick’s campaign last time around was very successful at bringing Catholics and Evangelicals together. To put it bluntly, the Evangelicals loved Rick Santorum more than the Catholics. It may be that Santorum was ignored by the writer because he has stepped away from politics to run a film production company.
Certainly if the Republicans have any hope of electoral victories they need to re-think what they are all about, and a strong combination of Evangelical numbers and enthusiasm with the solid content of Catholic social teaching could provide some solid content and the grassroots support that is needed for a new kind of conservatism to emerge.
I personally don’t have much love for the GOP any more than I do for the Democrats, but if a new wave of Christian based political and economic thought is to emerge, let’s hope that is one of the places where a transformation might take place.
What would be best would be for both the Democratic and Republican parties to have a real conversion and bring solid Christian values into politics at every level. What if both parties really returned to an ideal of service to the American people, of bringing justice and prosperity to all, guarding the lives and well being of all–from the most vulnerable child in the womb to the oldest person at the end of their lives. What if we were to use our vast wealth, knowledge, technology, generosity and good will to encourage all to walk the way of true human flourishing?
What if the Democrats and Republicans put aside their own self seeking power struggles and built a truly Christian society? What if the article was talking not only about Evangelical Catholic Republicans but was also talking about Catholic Evangelical Democrats?
That too is probably a contradiction in terms.