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Catholic vote debated at BC

A crumbling economy and a rising number of uninsured U.S. citizens may push cultural issues onto the back burner in the 2008 election, journalists said.
TIME magazine correspondent Amy Sullivan and Catholic author, blogger and reporter Michael Sean Winters spoke about Catholicism’s role in political campaigns at a panel called ‘Catholics and the 2008 Elections’ at Boston College Thursday night.
The panelists discussed Catholic views on incendiary issues like abortion, gay marriage, the economy and candidates’ religious backgrounds at the Jesuit institution.
Winters said he believed Barack Obama would win the election and likened him to the next Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
‘It is time for a new New Deal,’ Winters said. ‘If Obama can find religiously informed policy with spiritual values, he will be able to do what FDR did.’
Alan Wolfe moderated the discussion and said many Catholics are voting for Republican candidates because of the party’s position on abortion.
‘While Catholics have traditionally and starkly voted Democrat, they are now voting Republican more and more,’ Wolfe, Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life founder, said.
Though Sullivan and Winters said abortion will not have as much of an impact on most voters’ choice for president, the issue still has a strong influence on Catholic voters.
‘There are election cycles where identity and cultural issues are important,’ Sullivan said. ‘This is not one of those years Democrats can print golden fliers about the ‘greater common good’ and Catholics will flock to them.’
Winters said there are more important issues for voters to base their presidential vote on, such as universal health care and the economy, but recognized that there are still single-issue voters.
‘Some Catholics find the abortion issue so big, they are never going to vote Democrat,’ he said. ‘Are we only allowed to apply the right of life to certain aspects?’
‘The Catholics that decide [abortion] is not going be the deciding factor are going to move on and vote based on other things, whereas people who are stuck on abortion are always going to vote a certain way,’ BC junior Brian Trepanier said.
BC senior Charlie Curnow said both speakers on the panel reflected a Catholic perspective.
‘I would put the Catholic church kind of in the middle of the political map,’ he said. ‘Socially, slightly leaning to the right but economically leaning to the left.’

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