Two weeks before the 2012 election, President Barack Obama stated that “a big reason” he would win a second term in office is because of the Hispanic-American vote.
And Hispanics delivered. The Hispanic-American vote accounted for ten percent of the vote in 2012, and seventy five percent voted to re-elect President Obama. At the same time, given that the large majority of Hispanics identify with the Catholic faith, at minimum due to their cultural heritage, the Catholic vote did not reflect an awareness of the threat to their faith posed by the current administration. It is clear that the Catholic Church in the United States must increase its catechetical and evangelization efforts among Hispanics, and speak the fullness of the truth to them.
The Democrats were able to persuade Hispanics that only their political party can give them what they want, which most assume is a relaxation of U.S. immigration policies. Certainly the Republican Party will be re-examining their policies on immigration, and in fact began doing so right after the election, but Hispanics care more than just about immigration.
The question of whether Hispanic Catholics firmly hold to the Church’s moral teachings on life and family values deserves serious attention. It would seem to be the case that they don’t because they overwhelmingly voted for the most radical anti-faith, anti-life, and anti-family presidential administration in the history of this country. What’s needed is a better approach to communicating these issues with our brothers and sisters.
Hispanic Catholics have not made, or refuse to make, the connection that supporting the re-election of the current administration gravely endangers the survival of those values they love and the society in which they now live with their children, their extended families, and their friends. The current platform of the Democratic Party is firmly and explicitly committed to almost every aspect of the modern culture of death – contraception, abortion, the redefinition of marriage, embryonic stem cell research, etc. – all of which are condemned by the Church that many Hispanics call their own.
Yet, there is a factor that has not been clearly taken into account. Hispanics are emigrating from countries in Latin America that are often led by socialistic, or at least far-left, political parties. In those countries, the Catholic Church is also fighting to preserve faith, life, and family values, as well as its voice in the public square.
Hispanics therefore see little difference between these socialist ideologies and the increasingly difficult conditions found in their new country, or the urgency in addressing the problems. It is probable that this could be one of the reasons why they do not react to the alarm concerning the future of religious liberty raised by the Catholic Church in the United States.
Regarding the Catholic faith, there is a difference between the Latin American countries and the United States. Latin American nations have a Catholic cultural foundation, but the United States does not have, as its foundation, a Catholic culture. So it takes more effort and commitment to live as a Catholic in the United States, and to retain Catholic values. Hispanics come to this country with a Catholic cultural identity which they may or may not realize is at risk.
Hispanics of course immigrate to the United States in search of greater opportunities and a better standard of living. Yet in May 2012 the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders reported that the unemployment level among Hispanics rose from 20.6% to 26.6%, and the poverty level among Hispanic children rose from 27.4% to 36.3%, all during the first term of the Obama administration.
And these percentage rates are likely to increase during a second term as the Obama administration’s policies become more established and businesses realize that their ability to flourish is threatened.
During the next four years, the Obama administration will seek to retain Hispanic-American support. The more we see of the administration’s HHS mandates, however, the more Hispanics will see that their values are not represented by the man for whom they cast their vote.
This is what Hispanic Catholics must understand. Unencumbered by the need to reach out to voters in another campaign, the Obama administration will not need to mitigate its aggressive push for secularism, amoral sex education, same-sex adoption and “marriage,” abortion, and euthanasia.
But since most Hispanic families send their children to public schools, it is not certain that they will be able to ensure that their children retain their traditional values. In addition, given the likelihood of further economic downturn, parents will spend more time at their jobs, and thus, less time together as a family. The American Dream is increasingly out of reach even for those who have been here for generations, and Hispanics may soon learn that the risks they took to come to the “Land of Opportunity” were not worth the rewards.
Hispanics must be told that life in the United States of America has never been about renouncing fundamental values in order to obtain earthly goods. As we fight for the common good of our country, we must let our Hispanic brothers and sisters know that we need them to stand with us in the fight.