Friday, October 28, 2016

PRRI Finding That Six in Ten White Catholic Men Support Trump: What We Can Expect to Hear (and Not to Hear) Now in Catholic Discussions of This Finding

Regarding PRRI's latest finding — that some six in ten white Catholic men intend to vote for Donald Trump — which I discussed briefly yesterday, we will now begin, I predict, to see articles focusing on the fact that there's a considerable gender gap between white Catholic males and white Catholic women in this election cycle. Those articles may well emphasize the fact that about half of white Catholic women support Hillary Clinton.

What we will not see at Catholic discussion sites, from Catholic journalists and Catholic academics, is frank, honest recognition of what the strong support of Donald Trump by white Catholic men means — what it means about the kind of Christian communities Catholics have succeeded in building in the U.S., about the kind of catechesis Catholics are receiving from bishops today. As I noted two days ago, vis-a-vis PRRI's American Values Survey published this week, 

One of the most destructive results of the period of repudiation of Vatican II in which the Catholic church found itself in the final decades of the 20th century was how this repudiation has yielded an exceedingly parochial, cut-off, clubby, mentality among many Catholic academics and Catholic journalists — the lay leaders of American Catholicism — which insulates Catholic academics and Catholic journalists from important discussions taking place in a broader intellectual and cultural context. 
Catholic academics and journalists continue to shy away from honest, open discussions of some of the key issues that have to be discussed frankly if we're going to contend with the findings of the PRRI report. In general, Catholic journalistic and academic commentary about this election cycle has been very weak in acknowledging the role that racism plays in driving many voters, some white Catholic ones included, to Donald Trump. 
Catholic journalistic and academic commentary is also lamentably backwards in talking about issues of heterosexual male entitlement — about issues including heterosexism and gender roles that have emerged as central to the current election. Those issues are front and center in the PRRI report, because they are front and center in the election itself.  
But they are very unlikely to be discussed frankly in Catholic discussion spaces, which remain fixated on topics like how men and women can manage to relate to each other in marriage, given how different they are, or on how "gender ideology" blurs the hard, fast lines that heterosexual males within the Catholic context wish to see drawn between men and women and how they "naturally" act. It's obvious to me that what many heterosexual male Catholic academics and journalists, and other Catholic academics and journalists content with heterosexism and male entitlement, want to veil in discussions of issues of gender and heterosexism is the unacknowledged (and unmerited) privilege that Catholic magisterial teaching gives to heterosexual males.

We'll now begin to hear, at a lot of Catholic discussion sites, a lot of discussion by straight-identifying Catholic men about how the white Catholic vote places Catholics in general in a more "liberal" cadre of voters than white evangelicals — even as six in ten white Catholic men support Donald Trump. What we will not hear is open, honest discussion about how magisterial teaching about matters of gender and sexuality has transformed the church into a boys' club that gives astonishing unmerited entitlement and privilege to heterosexual males, especially white ones.

We will not hear honest, open discussion of the tremendous harm this has done and will continue to do both to the church itself and the world at large, in excluding and denigrating women and gay* people — removing them from the conversation, blocking the gifts and talents they bring to the church. We won't hear any discussion at all about how the Catholic church needs to repent of its male-entitled heterosexism, of how that male-entitled heterosexism has placed it, in the person of its leaders, in the camp of some of the most unattractive Christian "leaders" in the world in the U.S. religious right.

Nor will we see invitations issued to the gay* folks who have long been excluded from Catholic conversations about matters of gender and sexuality to talk about how the transformation of the church into a boys' club for privileged heterosexual males has harmed us — and the church itself.  Catholic women who do not toe the very restrictive line of magisterial teaching about gender roles will continue to be ignored, read out of this conversation. We'll continue to see these questions treated as off-the-wall questions, not worthy of discussion.

As people will keep right on walking out the door in shocking numbers . . . .


The chart at the top of the posting is from the PRRI report linked in the first link.

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