Misleading numbers, misleading claims

Misleading numbers, misleading claims October 23, 2008

In a recent article Deal Hudson implies that 61 bishops have come forward to “clarify” what Faithful Citizenship means, implying or saying outright that a vote for Barack Obama is unacceptable. This statistic, and accompanying list of bishops, has been parroted around the Catholic barfosphere for days now. A simple click-though of Hudson’s list, though, shows that his numbers are simply, factually, wrong. 

Hudson’s list is largely comprised of bishops who spoke out — rightly! — against the views expressed by Nanci Pelosi and Joe Biden in which they misrepresented Church teaching on abortion. If you actually click through to the statements cited by Hudson, it looks like less than 10 of them are statements which actually attempt to “clarify” or “interpret” Faithful Citizenship by binding Catholic consciences in favor of automatically disqualifying Obama as a potential choice. 

Hudson’s list, and those who quote it, combines episcopal statements of various types, statements which serve different purposes and which have different messages. He, and his messengers, lump all of these statements together as if they are saying the same thing and to give the impression that a growing number of bishops are essentially forbidding a vote for Barack Obama when this could not be further from the truth. The number of bishops making this move remains, fortunately, very very low. 

As a Catholic who definitely believes that, between the two of them, Barack Obama is the better choice, my pro-life commitments lead me to applaud the bishops on Hudson’s list who spoke out against the views of Pelosi and Biden which deliberately misrepresented the views of the Church. But I also applaud the fact that the number of bishops telling Catholics that they may not vote for Obama remains very small, contrary to Deal Hudson’s misleading presentation of the numbers. Indeed, I can count these bishops on one, maybe one and a half hands.

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