Lauretta Brown is the Register’s Washington-based staff writer.
The Catholics for Trump coalition will launch Tuesday afternoon after being forced to postpone its launch and rally originally planned for March 19 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump campaign exclusively told the Register that the coalition has planned an online broadcast Thursday.
“As President Trump leads our nation during this major crisis of combating COVID-19, Catholics are coming together in prayer,” Mercedes Schlapp, senior adviser for strategic communications for the Trump campaign, said in a statement to the Register via email. “President Trump is a steadfast supporter of the Catholic community and has delivered on his promises. As he said in his State of the Union address, ‘Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.’ From appointing hundreds of conservative judges, standing for religious liberties and halting the flow of taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, it is clear that Catholics and people of faith across the nation can lean on President Trump to fight for their beliefs.”
While many Catholics were initially skeptical of Trump in 2016, he has earned praise throughout his presidency from Catholic leaders for his pro-life policies and his efforts to protect religious liberty. He formed a Catholic Advisory Committee in 2016, after securing the nomination, that included Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, former Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy, and former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
In 2017, Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy ban on funding abortion overseas, revoked by President Barack Obama, eight years earlier. And, as noted in the Trump campaign statement to the Register, he has honored his pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges supportive of pro-life perspectives and his administration defunded $60 million from Planned Parenthood in August 2019, through an HHS rule barring Title X funding recipients from referring for abortion. He became the first president to attend the March for Life in person this year.
His efforts to protect religious liberty included exempting religious groups, including Catholic orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor, from complying with the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare. Under the Trump administration, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has specifically worked to enforce conscience protection laws through their new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division.
Trump secured the vote of self-identified Catholics in 2016 by a margin of 52% to 45%. Two recent polls by EWTN and RealClear Politics show that Trump is most popular with active Catholics, defined as those who accept “all or most” of the Church’s teachings. In a poll conducted in December, These Catholics gave him a 52% job-approval rating compared to the 44% approval he has among all Catholics, 50% among all Protestants, and 42% among the general electorate. Also, a combined 53% of active Catholics state that either they are sure to vote for Trump in 2020 (43%), or that there is a “good chance they will do so” (12%) compared to just 32% of those who accept some Church teachings and 23% of those whose faith plays only a minor role.
Among the group of devout Catholics who accept “all” the teachings of the Church analyzed in February, 63% approve of the president. Additionally, 59% of devout Catholics plan to vote for Trump in 2020 and another 8% say there’s a good chance they will vote for him.