Why Most Catholic Leaders Don’t Endorse Presidential Candidates
With just days left before Iowa casts the first votes in the presidential nominating contests, Republican candidates have been crisscrossing the state touting their Christian bona fides, appealing to the group of voters who could make or break several campaigns. Part of this ritual includes rattling off a list of prominent Christian leaders who have come out in support of their campaigns.
On Tuesday, for example, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who is polling well with Evangelical voters, bagged the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the influential Liberty University and son of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.
US Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, who speaks frequently of his Southern Baptist faith, has been rewarded with endorsements from Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
But there are few endorsements from prominent Catholics, even though four of the remaining GOP candidates — and one Democrat, Martin O’Malley — are Roman Catholic.
A reluctance to foster divisions over politics, the Catholic vote split between the major political parties, and the fact that most Catholics don’t want their leaders to endorse candidates all serve to discourage overt political support.
The fight for Evangelical votes has been intense, and for good reason. When Iowa Republicans caucused in 2012, 57 percent of participants were Evangelical Christians. Just 18 percent of the state’s population is Catholic.
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