Feb 8, 2008
This week, Deal Hudson reviews his upcoming book: “Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States.”
Many books have been written about the so-called "Religious Right" in American politics. What makes Onward, Christian Soldiers distinctive is my exploration of its Catholic dimension. What is usually treated as an exclusively Evangelical movement is closely intertwined with the travails of the post-Vatican II era in the United States. I look not only at the Catholic contribution to the beginning of the movement in the 70s but also at the specifically Catholic controversies that arose along the way involving figures like Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Gov. Mario Cuomo, Sen. John Kerry, Fr. Robert Drinan, S. J., Fr. Frank Pavone, Archbishop Raymond Burke, and, of course, John Cardinal O'Connor.
Catholics don't consider themselves part of the Religious Right. When I give lectures, I often ask Catholic audiences a series of questions. First, I usually ask, "Raise your hand if you consider yourself a social conservative." I remind them that a social conservative is
someone who votes primarily on issues such as abortion, the defense of marriage and the family, opposition to euthanasia, and the need for traditional values in education. Most of the Catholics I talk to raise their hands.
Then I ask how many consider themselves religious conservatives. "Are your socially conservative attitudes rooted in your Catholic faith?" Again, most will raise their hands. But then I ask, "How many of you consider yourselves members of the political movement known as the Religious Right?" The number of raised hands drops at least to half, sometimes there are only a few still raised.