WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's re-election campaign has drawn criticism amid allegations that its members have been making bigoted election calls to Catholics attacking the Mormon faith.
Deal Hudson, political activist and president of the Pennsylvania Catholics Network, warned that members of the Obama campaign have been making phone calls asking voters, “How can you support a Mormon who does not believe in Jesus Christ?”
On Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, Hudson reported that a campaign group known as “Catholics for Obama” was making calls directed at raising doubts about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith.
In articles posted on Catholic Online, he said that Joy Allen, co-chair of the pro-life committee at Sts. John and Paul Catholic parish in Franklin Park, Pa., received two phone calls asking for her college-age children.
In both cases, the callers identified themselves as being from the Obama campaign and said that they were practicing Catholics and Obama supporters before asking Allen how she could possibly support a Mormon, he said.
Reading from the same script, he added, the callers also tried to assert that neither President Obama nor Planned Parenthood promotes abortion and wanted to discuss the pro-Obama “Nuns on the Bus” campaign.
When questioned about the reports, an Obama campaign official told Catholic News Agency that the campaign considers a candidate’s religion to be off-limits but did not respond to questions about the alleged calls.
Hudson and Deacon Keith Fournier, editor in chief at Catholic Online, argued that the campaign is guilty of “playing the Mormon card,” which is “insulting to Catholics, with the accompanying presumption that such prejudice appeals to them.”
In an Oct. 3 article, Hudson and Fournier criticized the “eruption of bigotry on the phone lines” and called for an apology from the Obama campaign as “an extremely civilized and appropriate gesture.”
Princeton University law professor Robert George called on all Catholics to condemn “the anti-Mormon bigotry of these calls.”
“I don’t know who is behind these calls, but the Obama campaign should, in all decency, immediately try to figure it out and shut them down,” he said in an Oct. 2 post on First Thoughts, a blog sponsored by the ecumenical journal First Things.
George described the allegations as “the most egregious of many nauseating examples of the anti-Mormon bigotry that has crawled out of the swamp in relation to Governor Romney’s nomination as the Republican candidate for president.”
While other examples may be more subtle and sophisticated, they are “no less appalling,” he said.
The “extraordinary decency, generosity and patriotism” of the overwhelming majority of Mormons and their “contributions to the common good of our society” make this defamation “particularly grotesque,” George argued.
Said George, “Whether or not we happen to support Governor Romney in this campaign, we Catholics should be united in our friendship with, and high regard for, the Latter-Day Saints.”