For obvious reasons, Barack Obama being the first African-American President of the United States is getting a tremendous amount of attention. But we have another first: Joe Biden is our nation’s first Catholic Vice President.
When I’ve mentioned this fact to people, they often express surprise. To those such as myself who are not of the Christian faith, it’s easy to forget that for many people, the differences between Catholics and Protestants are serious. I’m not going to get into what the differences are simply because I don’t feel comfortable doing so, mostly because I don’t know very much about the topic. (True story: in college, I saw a friend with schmutz on her forehead. I went to wipe it off; she jumped back and became very annoyed with me. It was Ash Wednesday. Somehow, despite growing up in New York City, I had never heard of Ash Wednesday before. I was embarrassed, but at least I never did that again.) The website religionfacts.com has an interesting chart. Some highlights: Catholics include the apocrypha as part of the Bible, Protestants don’t. Catholics are “Free to do good or evil”, Protestants are “Free only to do evil.” (There’s something to chew on for awhile.)
Anyway, when I point out to people that the U.S. has only had one Catholic President in its entire history (JFK), the idea that it has taken this long to have a Catholic VP isn’t as big a surprise.
For some Catholics, Biden doesn’t quite cut it. There’s even a blog called “Catholics Against Joe Biden.” It shouldn’t surprise you that the authors of said blog were less than thrilled with Joe’s history making victory.
So what’s the big deal? Why just one Catholic out of 44 Presidents of these United States? According to Answers.com:
Even though Catholicism is the largest denomination in the United States, making up about 26% of Americans, it has not been looked upon favorably by all the other protestant Americans. Throughout history there have been fears of Catholics and the believe [sic] that the Holy Father, or the Pope might have control over American politics if a Catholic were to take power. There have been many attempts to block Catholics from office and even limit their right to vote in early American history.
So if we elect a Catholic, then the Pope is in charge. Interesting theory. Kind of like the “if we elect Barack Obama, he’ll enact some secret liberal agenda.” Well, not quite. But surprisingly similar. (I’m not equating the Pope with a secret liberal agenda, only the notion that somehow electing a President means that we’re actually getting some sort of shadow government.)
Again, I want to point out that this is not a topic (Catholicism) that I am well versed in, but I thought it was interesting enough to point it out. If anyone has any additional info they want to add, please do so.
Also interesting is the fact that Obama, “won a majority of the Catholic vote” (AP). John Kerry did not