US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Would a presidential candidate get your vote if he or she is Catholic?

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

With the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Catholic President John F. Kennedy coming up this Friday, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) conducted a survey asking more than 1,300 Catholics ranging from age 16 to 64 how much it matters to them that a presidential candidate is Catholic. Of those surveyed, the majority (59 percent) stated that it matters “not at all.” Nineteen percent say it matters “a little” to them, while the minorities found it at least to a certain degree important—16 percent say “somewhat” and 6 percent say “very much.”

Not surprisingly, the study also found that the more often the survey participants attend Mass the more important they find the fact that the presidential candidate is Catholic.

However, I found a third graph from CARA to be an interesting one. They divided the participants up into three generational groups—Vatican II (b. 1949-1960), post-Vatican II (b. 1961-1981), and millennial (b. 1982-1987)—and found that faith of a presidential candidate was most important to the millennial generation.

With so much talk of how the millennial generation is attending Mass less frequently, many of whom are nervous to publicly associate with being “Catholic,” I was surprised to find that they were the generation who found a presidential candidate’s faith the most important. None of the three generations listed in the survey were old enough to vote for President John F. Kennedy when he was elected. (The oldest respondents would have been 14 years old.)

Even though the CARA survey stated that at the moment the majority doesn’t care what faith a candidate has identified with, it makes me wonder if this new generation—gearing up with a growing political voice—will draw attention more to the faith of a candidate and will have something to do with having a “second” Catholic president in office someday, even as early as 2016.

Does the fact that a presidential candidate is Catholic make you more likely to vote for him or her?

Image: Flickr photo cc by acaben