POLARIZATION? IDENTIFYING WHAT DIVIDES AND UNITES AMERICAN CATHOLICS
Keywords:Catholic voting, polarization, Catholic polarization, religion and politics, Catholic civic engagement, American Catholicism
Polarization among American Catholics has been a subject of both scholarly and media attention. Using a nationally representative survey of over 1500 Catholics, the first part of this article explores the extent to which race, gender, generation, and commitment to Catholicism shape polarization among Catholics; these different characteristics affect Catholics’ political and civic beliefs and practices to varying degrees. The second part of the article parses Catholics into their political party groupings – Democrat, Republican, and Independent – to determine the ways party affiliation affects Catholics’ understanding of non-political religious beliefs and practices. The analysis reveals that political divisions are evident among some of the Catholic subgroupings, but that theological unity nevertheless prevails across party lines.
Bruce Tricia C., Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church, Oxford University Press, New York, 2017.
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Cuneo Michael W., The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1997.
D’Antonio William V., Michelle Dillon, and Mary L. Gautier, American Catholics in Transition, Rowman & LittleField Publishers, Lanham, 2013.
Day Maureen K., Catholic Activism Today: Individual Transformation and the Struggle for Social Justice, New York University Press, New York, 2020.
Day Maureen K., From Consensus to Division: Tracing the Ideological Divide Among American Catholic Women, 1950–1980, Journal of Media and Religion, Vol. 16, No. 1, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1080/15348423.2017.1401408
Dillon Michele, Catholic Identity: Balancing Reason, Faith, and Power, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999.
Dillon Michele, Postsecular Catholicism: Relevance and Renewal, Oxford University Press, New York, 2018.
Dionne E. J. Jr., “There Is No Catholic Vote – And Itʼs Important”, in: American Catholics and Civic Engagement: A Distinctive Voice, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels (ed), Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, 2004.
Dolan Jay P., The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times to the Present, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 1992.
Dolan Jay P., In Search of American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002.
Donnelly Joseph F., But They are not Dogmas!, Catholic Mind, 1956.
Emerson Michael O. and Christian Smith, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Oxford University Press, New York, 2001.
Goldwater Barry, The Conscience of a Conservative, Catholic Digest, August 1960.
Gorman Ralph, Can a Catholic Be a Liberal?, Catholic Mind, 1959.
Haidt Johnathan, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, Pantheon Books, New York, 2012.
Hendry Simon J., “Ruined for Life: The Spirituality of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps”, Ph.D. diss., Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, 2002.
Konieczny Mary Ellen, The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work, and Religion among American Catholics, Oxford University Press, New York, 2013.
Konieczny Mary Ellen, Charles C. Camosy, and Tricia Colleen Bruce, Polarization in the US Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2016.
Lipka Michael, “U.S. religious groups and their political leanings”, available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2016/02/23/u-s-religious-groups-and-their-political-leanings (accessed May 9, 2023).
Lipka Michael and Gregory A. Smith, “Like Americans overall, U.S. Catholics are sharply divided by party”, available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/24/like-americans-overall-u-s-catholics-are-sharply-divided-by-party/ (accessed April 18, 2022).
Morris Charles R., American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built Americaʼs Most Powerful Church, Vintage, New York, 1997.
Mulder Mark and Gerardo Marti, “Rustbelt Religion: Faith and Politics in Central Wisconsin,” presentation at the 2018 Association for the Sociology of Religion.
Nepstad Sharon Erickson, Convictions of the Soul: Religion, Culture, and Agency in the Central America Solidarity Movement, Oxford University Press, New York, 2004.
Nepstad Sharon Erickson, Catholic Social Activism: Progressive Movements in the United States, New York University Press, New York, 2019.
OʼBrien David J., Public Catholicism, 2nd ed., Orbis Books, New York, 1996.
Oates Mary J., The Catholic Philanthropic Tradition in America, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1995.
Pew Research Center, “Religion’s Relationship to Happiness, Civic Engagement and Health Around the World”, available at: https://www.pewforum.org/2019/01/31/religions-relationship-to-happiness-civic-engagement-and-health-around-the-world/ (accessed December 17, 2020).
Pew Research Center, “Chapter 3: Demographic Profiles of Religious Groups, America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2015/05/12/chapter-3-demographic-profiles-of-religious-group/ (accessed May 9, 2023).
Putnam Robert, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2000.
Putnam Robert D. and David E. Campbell, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2012.
Schor Elana and David Crary, “Survey: Biden and Trump split the 2020 Catholic vote almost evenly”, available at: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2020/11/06/catholic-vote-donald-trump-joe-biden-election-split (accessed December 7, 2020).
Smidt Corwin E., Catholics and the 2020 Presidential Election, Politics and Religion Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2, 2021. https://doi.org/10.54561/prj1502283s
Smith Christian, Resisting Reagan: The U.S. Central America Peace Movement, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2010.
Steinfels Margaret O’Brien, ed., American Catholics and Civic Engagement: A Distinctive Voice, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, 2004.
Wuthnow Robert, Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1991.
Wuthnow Robert, Sharing the Journey: Support Groups and America’s New Quest for Community, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1994.
“Charity is Fundamental to Politics, Pope Francis Tells Youth”, CNA, May 2021. Available at: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/247728/charity-is-fundamental-to-politics-pope-francis-tells-youth (accessed September 7, 2021).