Media doesn’t acknowledge 2024 hopeful Ron DeSantis is as Catholic as Biden


We don’t usually think about Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, fiercely at war with culture, and possible frontrunner in 2024 for the Republican presidential candidate, as a Catholic politician. He clearly is, though documenting the ins and outs of how DeSantis’ faith intersects with his politics requires digging much deeper than coverage in mainstream media or cable news. Child, DeSantis, a descending of Italian immigrants, attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Dunedin, Florida. As an adult, he remains Catholic enough not only to have his son baptized with water from the Sea of ​​Galilee, but also for focus on “the power of prayer” in public places.

DeSantis attends political prayer breakfasts where he call communism “an evil ideology” because the communists “rejected the existence of God himself.” They viewed the state as supreme. Also, DeSantis’ social policy agenda appears to be directly influenced by the lobbying of the Catholic bishops, and it is put Extremist Catholic ideologues affiliated with the Catholic Medical Association, the National Catholic Center for Bioethicsand other right-wing organizations in key bureaucratic and “expert” roles, politicizing and abusing state bureaucracy in pursuit of a far-right agenda targeting transgender people. (Those looking for more information on Catholic anti-trans ties in Florida should take a look at the well-researched Twitter son by Zinnia Jones, who tirelessly documents the links.)

Clemente Lisi, a New York-based journalist and college professor who is a frequent contributor to get religion, argue that the media’s failure to portray DeSantis as a politician motivated by Catholic beliefs represents problematic bias. Lisi is currently affiliated with King’s College, a non-denominational evangelical school property of Campus Crusade for Christ (since rebranded as “Cru”) until 2010 and run by Dinesh D’Souza until 2012 – and get religionan outlet with a strong bias in favor of conservative Christians.

Obviously, there’s little reason to think that someone like Lisi and someone like me, an evangelical atheist and a political progressive, would agree on a lot of things. And yet, I agree that it is a problem that our national discourse conceals the devout Catholicism of politicians like Ron DeSantis while playing on the devotion of liberal Catholics like President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, because DeSantis “isn’t the right kind of Catholic”, as Lisi puts it angrily.

As Lisi points out, it’s only when reporters can portray DeSantis as disagreeing with Catholic teaching that they seem to approve of them bringing up his Catholicism — for example, when DeSantis clashes with a local bishop about of his anti-immigrant stance, or when his pro-death penalty positions, in contradiction to official Catholic teaching, are in the spotlight.

Of course, liberal Catholic politicians also clash with the hierarchy – on abortion access, birth control and LGBTQ inclusion – and yet journalists show little interest in challenging their Catholic good faith, instead portraying the politicians as heroic for resisting pressure from the Catholic Church.

My reasons for caring about the obvious double standard here seem to differ sharply from Lisi’s. As far as I know, Lisi wants to highlight DeSantis’ right-wing Catholicism because he thinks he should be recognized as a legitimate source of influence in American politics. For my part, I firmly believe that religious beliefs should have no bearing on policies that undermine equal accommodation in the public square for people who do not share those beliefs. Nor should they shape anyone’s ability to access the best health care they need in a given situation, to adopt children, or to marry.

It’s not just theoretical for me. Although I can’t get pregnant, being queer is enough to deter me from seeking care in a Catholic or Protestant hospital when possible, because I can’t trust doctors under Christian dogma to care for me. from me appropriately. Catholic hospitals, including sexuality standards of care. sex and reproductive health are determined by the reactionary United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, currently treat one in seven hospital patients in the United States, and their share of control over hospital systems in the United States is only growing.

In terms of practical mattersbeing transgender means there are restrictions on where I can live and which health insurance companies I can use to ensure that my care is in a secular system of clinics and hospitals, where I am not at risk of being gender-errorized, shamed, or denied needed treatment on the basis of sectarian religious beliefs that I frankly find deplorable.

Today in Florida, Ron DeSantis succeeds imposing Catholic restrictions on reproductive health care and transgender health care apply to every medical facility and every doctor in the state, regardless of their own beliefs and whether they go directly against best medical practice. well established. Without stressing it too much, this is exactly why I object to the media’s differential treatment of liberal Catholic politicians and right-wing Catholic politicians.

The ubiquitous framing choices of journalists and editors in this regard reflect and perpetuate the under-recognized Christian privilege that permeates American civil society. They do this by equating “Christian” with “good”; in this case by associating the Catholic affiliation of political leaders with political positions that promote equality and human rights, even if they sometimes criticize the Catholic hierarchy. The question here is therefore related to the problem of the rejection of authoritarian Christians as “false christians,” a topic I have writing on several times before.

While liberationist forms of faith certainly exist, much of Christian history is characterized by imperialism, colonialism, and a drive to exert dominance and control over people’s personal lives. In a sense, Catholicism, which contains both social justice and reactionary strands, is the ultimate “great tent” within the larger social and cultural system that is Christianity.

But the existence of social justice impulses within Catholicism does not negate the existence of authoritarian impulses within the Church, let alone the evil to which these authoritarian impulses lead. Christianity is not always remote or inherently benign. If we are to be honest about the current state of American politics, we must face this fact. A concrete way to start is to recognize that Ron DeSantis is as Catholic a politician as Joe Biden.


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