Obama and McCain Campaigns Target Catholics

We Catholics find ourselves at a very interesting point in history. Once again, presidential elections are upon us and we represent the largest bloc of religious voters at an estimated 25% of America’s registered voting population. Therefore, Senators Obama and McCain are out to get our votes.

On the one hand, signatories of Roman Catholics for Obama ’08 claim, “We are real, honest-to-goodness, practicing Catholics who embrace and call attention to Catholic Social Teaching…”

This is unbelievable given Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-IL) record, especially his infamous crusade against the Illinois version of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which was passed and signed into law before he made it to Congress.

Yet, like Obama, many of his nominally Catholic endorsers have violated the most fundamental human rights taught and defended by the Catholic Church because, as the Church defines it, they cooperated in abortions and human embryonic stem cell research. These evils are so grave that the Vatican’s Cardinal Angelo Amato called them “terrorism.”

One of Obama’s Catholics, Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius (D), was personally and publicly informed by Kansas City’s Archbishop Joseph Naumann that she disqualifies herself from Holy Communion and she should “take the difficult political step, but necessary moral step, of repudiating her past actions in support of legalized abortion.”

If there is any doubt about Catholic teaching on these matters, the Catholic bishops of Kansas summarize it well in their guide for voters.

On the other hand, John McCain 2008 strategists established the National Catholics for McCain Committee, co-chaired by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating (R).

Nevertheless, a growing number of Catholics are upset because the McCain campaign attempts to court us with flyers declaring that he has “a stellar 25-year pro-life voting record in the Congress.”

cells.jpgIn reality, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) voted for embryonic stem cell research both times ESCR bills were passed by Congress — and the only reason that our federal tax dollars do not currently fund this type of terrorism is because President George W. Bush vetoed the bills.

Thus, scientists, physicians and pro-life leaders have been educating Sen. McCain’s campaign managers about stem cell research, but they wonder if the facts are getting through to him.

Inside McCain’s Campaign

In the interest of disclosure, I am registered Republican.

That said, I am not a member of Catholics for McCain, but I accepted their invitation to join a July 30 conference call conducted by Gov. Frank Keating and McCain’s Catholic outreach director, Josh Lynch.

Consequently, I was able to ask the first question, stating upfront, “As a Catholic journalist, I think that Catholics and all people deserve an explanation for certain claims that are made by the McCain campaign.”

I cited Sen. McCain’s votes for embryonic stem cell research and inquired, “So, why does the Catholic outreach pamphlet say that John McCain has a stellar pro-life voting record in Congress?”

In brief, Gov. Keating said that the pro-life claim applies only to Sen. McCain’s record against abortion; Keating and Lynch urged us to compare McCain’s record to Sen. Obama’s pro-abortion record; they said that we can count on McCain to nominate good judges; and Gov. Keating thinks that the embryonic stem cell issue “is going to go away” because of “the skin cell” technology.

Stunning Science

Gov. Keating was referring to the experiments by scientists who had “reprogrammed” adult skin cells into “embryo-like” stem cells and released articles on their findings last November.

One scientist was Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan.

The other scientist was James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, who some call “the father of embryonic research.”

While many were celebrating these supposedly ethical breakthroughs, Theresa Deisher, scientist and founding researcher of AVM Biotechnology in Seattle, revealed several problems in the March-April 2008 issue of Celebrate Life.

She said that kidney cells from an electively-aborted human fetus were among the ingredients used by both men. While Deisher explained that there are moral options to obtain the same reprogramming result, she saw no victory in that result because “Reprogrammed adult cells display this embryonic characteristic: they form fatal tumors in adults.”

David Prentice, senior fellow for life sciences at Family Research Council and coauthor of FRC’s Adult Stem Cell Success Stories 2008 Update, also evaluated Yamanaka’s and Thomson’s trials.

He said, “Even when they overcome the problems of using fetal tissue to make iPS cells, the cells still won’t help anyone. Only adult stem cells are helping people now and only adult stem cells will help people in the future. It’s all about the patients.”

James Sherley, a medical doctor and a senior stem cell scientist at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, confirmed that embryonic stem cells are incompatible with anyone other than the embryonic persons to whom they belong.

He said, “While embryonic stem cell research advocates argue that we should make use of ‘extra embryos,’ the bitter, bitter irony is that human embryonic stem cells cannot be used at all because they form tumors and lack essential properties needed to maintain mature tissues. Thus, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to fund human ESCR.”

Sherley further stated, “Human embryonic stem cell research is equivalent to abortion because, in both cases, innocent human beings are killed.”

Policy Contradictions

Despite Gov. Keating’s hopes, the embryonic stem cell research agenda has taken on a life of its own.

On the July 30 call, Paula Westwood, executive director of the independent organization Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, expressed distress about McCain’s stem cell policy.

Afterwards, Westwood reacted to Gov. Keating’s explanations in detail.

She said, “It is inconsistent for John McCain to claim to be pro-life and not protect human embryos from experimentation and death. Claims that McCain is ‘orthodox pro-life’ in opposing abortion, but that embryonic research is relatively new and thus need not be seriously addressed are unacceptable.”

At Ohio hearings, Westwood witnessed that stem cell researchers are more interested in unlimited public funding for their experiments than they are in helping patients with legitimate treatments. She knows of privately-funded cloning and ESCR, and she fears that the U.S. will follow Britain in passing a license to make human-animal hybrids.

“Whoever is elected president,” said Westwood, “Congress is poised to override the Bush standard and push for federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research that involves the deaths of countless human beings — in addition to those who are already dying in private research.”

Even James Thomson admitted these crises, but he tried to justify them with a contradiction in terms.

In the Dec. 3, 2007 Washington Post, Thomson wrote, “Discomfort with the notion of extracting stem cells from embryos is understandable… [But] we hope Congress will override the president’s veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.”

Then again, Paula Westwood said, “Americans should protect innocent human beings at every stage of development and ability, and we need a president who realizes this.”

Invitation for Input

On July 30, Josh Lynch pointed out that John McCain is a cosponsor of the U.S. Senate’s proposed Human Cloning Prohibition Act and he called for Catholics to e-mail their concerns.

By the end of that conference call, Gov. Keating said, “We need your guidance and advice.

“I know there’s disagreement — we had several callers who were concerned about McCain’s support for embryonic stem cell research. I’m against it. I’m not panicking on the subject because I think John is warm and wonderful and humble and open and right down the line on the rights of the vulnerable. I think we’ll get there,” he said.

Well, here we are now. In his Catholic outreach brochure, Sen. McCain claims to be “a man of compassion who fights for human rights worldwide” and “a pro-life Reagan conservative ready to lead America as president on day one.”

How can we believe that or his promise to “cut taxes and eliminate all wasteful spending,” unless he commits to vetoing embryonic stem cell research?

The e-mail address for McCain’s Catholic outreach staff is Catholics@JohnMcCain.com.

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    Maybe I’m not understanding the issue clearly. If MCcain is against abortion, how can he (or anyone for that matter that is anti-abortion), support embryonic stem cells since the only way to obatin these cells is from aborted fetuses? Logically, being anti-abortion would seem to me to then just flow into being anti-embryonic stem cell research? Am I missing something here?

  • momof11

    I guess what they are saying is if the conception occurs outside of a woman’s body what is conceived is not a baby and so killing “it” is not an abortion. I believe embryonic stem cells are usually obtained from the “excess embryos” created in in vitro fertilization and not transferredto the woman’s womb. Of course no one wants to admit that in vitro fertilization is an immoral act.

  • Tota Tua

    Embryonic stem cell research is going to be a non-issue shortly as the results have not been as touted. $$$ are being withdrawn and put into other stem cell research and development that has proven to work. It is my understanding that McCain believes this work is being done only on in vitro embryo, BUT that doesn’t make it any less deplorable. While ESR is evil, on the scale of evil, it pales in comparison to abortion by sheer numbers.


  • Shawfamily

    In light of the current media reports on Senator McCain’s possible choices for Vice President, and the possibility of choosing a “Pro-Choice” candidate as a running partner, how will CE approach the latest information as we seek a “faithful servant” posture with these candidates?

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    After his response to Pastor Warren in the interview last week, I would be shocked if he picked a Pro-Choice VP.

  • terrygeorge

    hello, it is either gonna be McCain or Obama picking judges for the next four years. Does anyone seriously think that there will be no difference between them in this crucial area? At worst with McCain, we could replace some extreme liberals with some swing votes! With Obama it is guaranteed to be pro abortion, pro homosexual, anti family, anti religious liberals. In the face of this, we need to unite behind the best realistic option open to us.
    gosh, imagine how much more Bush could have done in this area if it weren’t for all the sniping by ‘conservatives’!
    Yes, we have a less than ideal choice, but the choice is obvious. We’re one vote away from overturning Roe v Wade. Don’t throw it away now.

  • Jakes

    Not intending to offend the author or any of the responders to this article, I perceive that there is missing concentration upon implications of the most important issue that the article broaches through the following words:

    “Whoever is elected president” said Woodwood, “Congress is poised to override the Bush standard and push for federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research that involves the deaths of countless human beings – in addition to those who are already dying in private research.”

    I suggest that the following concepts are crucial:

    a. America has abortion as the law of the land by the machinations of politics.
    b. By simlar machinations the same can be true of embryonic stem cell research.
    c. Vital in God’s Greatest COMMANDMENT is “Love your neighbor as yourself”
    d. Unborn human beings are NEIGHBORS TO EVERY AMERICAN.
    e. Mothers of these unborn, are NEIGHBORS TO EVERY AMERICAN.
    f. So too are human beings who are embryos (not animals, plants or minerals). g. Yet the law allows unborn human beings brutally killed in the millions. WHERE’S THE COMMANDED LOVE, ESPECIALLY BY VOTERS WHO PERMIT IT ALL TO HAPPEN? AND COULD STOP IT TOMORROW! (Sure votes are powerful but not more so, nor as timely as: strongly, directly expressed intentions to vote for a cause of LIFE).
    h. LAW exposes an innocent pregnant woman to male pressures to exercise her EXCLUSIVE LEGAL RIGHT to order her (our) defenseless neighbor killed! WHERE’S THE COMMANDED LOVE, ESPECIALLY BY VOTERS WHO PERMIT IT ALL?
    j. This is not just a presidential issue. It is an EVERY POLITICIAN ISSUE. They all, regardless of political party, need to know that Culture of Death support will be a poison pill in the next election and beyond!
    k. God’s Greatest Commandment underlies everything good. (cf Mt22:34-40)
    l. Every vote – cast or uncast – potentially obeys or disobeys God’s basic Command. Sure, God doesn’t hassel us daily, but we mustn’t forget He is JUST!
    m. Traditionally, every election, 50% !!! of eligible voters refrain from voting! THEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND PERSONALLY, PERMIT THE MAYHEM TO CONTINUE.
    n. Votes of others help elect abortion supporters – for non-abortion reasons.
    o. All Americans who subscribe to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” as well as professing Jews and Christians need to judge whether, personally, they politically promote or hinder love of neighbor.
    p. Voters need to inform all 2008 office-seekers of their intention that intolerance with the brutal practices of abortion will be a vital consideration as they cast their votes in all elections, 2008 and following!

    Quite wordy, I’m sorry to say But – CLEARLY – the Culture of Death employed all three branches of government to impose abortion and related injustices upon America, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry in the process.

    Voters need to be educated by clergy, laity and pro-life organizations (not by just a courageous, solitary, “sitting-duck” bishop or two) that this is not just a presidential issue and not a partisan political-party issue but an issue of democracy and love of neighbor, both trademarks of average Americans.

    Americans eligible to vote can change – right now in 2008 – the country’s legal denial of love to certain of their neighbors. They have a COMMANDED obligation to do so. They need to be prodded (by all persons of good will) to do what’s right and do it expeditiously, as 3,000+ of their neighbors are brutally aborted each and every day and countless numbers of mothers of these aborted human beings are intimidated into being unwilling, but key, legal facilitators of that daily mayhem!

    Let’s stop it all, democratically!

    Peace, Jakes

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  • heinz

    I would also like to say that John McCain has also stated that he is open to “exceptions” to the abortion law (incest, rape, health of mother). This seems to put into question exactly how anti-abortion he really is, and is a not-so-far cry from Hillary Clinton’s current stance on abortion: that she would like to make it as rare as possible.

    On a tangent, it seems to me that we ought to at least consider voting for a good third party candidate who is pointed in the right direction on moral issues. Among these is the perennial candidate Alan Keyes, a fellow Roman Catholic. His website is alankeyes.com

    There are many, many people who say that we must vote for a viable candidate (in my opinion, viability is an extremely subjective question). They say that we must vote for a major candidate like John McCain because, even though McCain is not necessarily very good, we absolutely do not want Obama in the White House. It seems to me that this seems to be another use of the common fallacy of an end justifying a means. The means in this case is voting for a candidate who is not in-line with the Church’s non-negotiable issues to prevent the greater evil of electing a president that respects none of them. Many bishops (Archbishop Burke, my bishops here in Kansas) have said that one can not vote for a candidate that supports ESCR, Archbishop Burke going so far as to say that anyone that does should not present himself at the communion rail. It seems that the time has come for a political turnover. Let’s do all that we can to make this a reality some day.