Catholics and Politics: The Dynamic Tension between Faith and Power

By Kristin E. Heyer; Mark J. Rozell et al. | Go to book overview

2
POLITICAL MARRIAGE
OF CONVENIENCE?
The Evolution of the Conservative Catholic-Evangelical
Alliance in the Republican Party

MARK J. ROZELL

IN 1995 the Reverend Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, then the nation's leading religious conservative political organization, announced its launching of a new affiliate group called the Catholic Alliance. Christian Coalition political director Ralph Reed said that the purpose of the new group was to forge a stronger bond between conservative evangelicals and Catholics who, though perhaps unable to agree on theology, could work together in politics to promote common issues. Reed boasted that the goal of the Catholic Alliance was to recruit a million conservative Catholics into the Christian Coalition by the year 2000 and thus build a powerful pro-life force that would change the landscape of American politics.

At the same time I was working with several colleagues on a survey research project examining the religious orientations and political attitudes of delegates to Republican Party conventions in several states.1 Although that project initially arose out of our interest in better understanding the role of the largely conservative, Protestantled, religious right movement in the GOP, our surveys revealed a significant percentage of Catholic delegates at these conventions, many of whom identified as being a part of the religious right.

The survey findings revealed two realities about the emerging conservative Catholic-evangelical alliance in politics: first, there was little likelihood for the success of the Catholic Alliance in the Christian Coalition because, even among a population of very religiously conservative activists in the GOP, the Catholics in this

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