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Biden and Barrett and 'Complicated' Catholics

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AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Sympathetic Washington Post writer Matt Viser reports Joe Biden is pushing his religion in "a seven-figure ad buy that will air on religious TV stations and Christian radio networks in nine battleground states."

In one ad, "Morning," the narrator cites Biden's faith as what got him through "dark times," when he lost his wife and daughter in a car crash in 1972 and his son Beau Biden to cancer in 2015. Faith in God should get us through hard times. But you don't have to belong to a church to have faith.

Maybe I watch too many Biden presentations, but these tragic losses are energetically, robotically presented anywhere and everywhere as humanizing "poor Joe" talking points. At least for me, it's become distasteful.

In the second ad, "Principles," Biden explicitly defines himself as Catholic. "My father would say the cardinal sin of all sins is the abuse of power." A priest nods along as Biden aligns himself with "basic essential elements of what constitutes Catholicism. The idea that everyone's entitled to dignity, that you have an obligation to reach out and be inclusive."

Meanwhile, Biden warned that Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court means "Women could lose the bedrock rights enshrined in Roe vs. Wade for 50 years." Enshrined? As in "to preserve or cherish as sacred"? Abortion is "sacred." Abortion rights define "the soul of the country."

To Biden, unborn children apparently have no human dignity, and killing them doesn't mean you aren't "inclusive." Killing a child even after it's viable in the womb is never an "abuse of power."

We can easily state as fact that this is the exact opposite of the Catholic teaching on abortion, and Joe Biden knows it. In this campaign, he has gone to a new extreme, insisting faithful Catholic taxpayers should be forced to fund abortions with their own hard-earned money.

Abortion is a central moral concern of the Catholic Church, but it's not the only one. As a conservative, I have to examine my soul to ponder if I've done enough for the poor and neglected, if I have treated everyone with dignity. We confess our sins to each other at each Mass -- "for what I have done, and for what I have failed to do."

But we're constantly told Biden is a "devout Catholic." NBC News analyst Howard Fineman gushed: "Joe Biden is running the most overtly religious campaign since Jimmy Carter in 1976. It is as clear as a large-print Bible. He's offering himself as Father Joe and Joe the father: a devout, humble man of decency."

Don't buy Fineman's sales pitch. He also just tweeted, "#SenateDemocrats need the brains and guts of @alfranken on the #JudiciaryCommittee right now -- he'd carve up Coney Barrett." Carve her up ... like an unborn child?

So, Amy Coney Barrett's Catholicism must be "carved up." Her faith apparently imposes "hard times"; it doesn't get you through hard times. Reporters are frightened she might have a rosary in her pocket, while they tout Biden's rosary in his pocket. She's some kind of theocratic freak, and Biden is "Father Joe."

The media elites describe Biden's Catholicism as "complicated but deeply American." I can't help but hear something insulting in that. Disagree with Biden and you're simplistic, and perhaps less American for your uncomplicated obedience to a distant moral authority. They're describing chummy, wink-wink Kennedy Catholicism. Strike a pose in the pews; tout abortion in the news.

Catholics should ask Biden whether he'll make an ad denouncing vandalism against churches and statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Or an ad denouncing Democrats who allow protests in the streets but not masses inside church. We won't expect the media to ask anything like this.

Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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