Speaker of the House

Spotting two Catholic 'ghosts' in the lives of Paul Ryan and David Daleiden

Spotting two Catholic 'ghosts' in the lives of Paul Ryan and David Daleiden

This week's "Crossroads" podcast (click here to tune that in) is about "religion ghosts" in mainstream news, which is about as basic a GetReligion topic as you can get, seeing as how that was the subject of the very first post on this weblog back on Feb. 1, 2004.

In this case, host Todd Wilken and I were talking about posts in which I focused on Catholic ghosts in the lives of two public figures caught up in very big stories in the mainstream press.

First there was this one: "Spot a religion ghost? Paul Ryan is a busy father who wants to help raise his kids." And the second post was about the young man at the heart of the hidden-camera Planned Parenthood videos: "Washington Post meets David Daleiden, whose Catholic faith is less important than his socks."

In both cases, we were dealing with features stories that were supported to help readers understand what makes these men tick, when dealing with major moral and ethical issues. In both cases, their Catholic faith was all but ignored.

Which brings us back to that "ghost" concept, as explained on GetReligion Day 1. Let us attend:

Day after day, millions of Americans who frequent pews see ghosts when they pick up their newspapers or turn on television news.
They read stories that are important to their lives, yet they seem to catch fleeting glimpses of other characters or other plots between the lines. There seem to be other ideas or influences hiding there.
One minute they are there. The next they are gone. There are ghosts in there, hiding in the ink and the pixels.

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Spot a religion ghost? Paul Ryan is a busy father who wants to help raise his kids

Spot a religion ghost? Paul Ryan is a busy father who wants to help raise his kids

Here is an important "political" question for you (I say that in snark mode): When dealing with Catholics in the Republican Party, is their faith only worth mentioning when it is part of (a) references to their strange, culturally speaking, beliefs on issues of moral theology or (b) when they clash with good, progressive Catholics who are on the other side of the political aisle?

I certainly agree that it is fair game to ask GOP Catholics questions about how their faith influences their views on, let's say, the death penalty, immigration and health care. I say that because I think it's important -- for the same doctrinal reasons (see the Pope Francis address to the U.S. Congress) -- to keep asking Catholics in the Democratic Party obvious questions such as abortion, euthanasia and religious liberty. Oh, and the death penalty, as well.

It's a worldview thing, you see. Catholicism is a massive force in the lives of people who actually try to live it out and that would certainly be true when you are talking about the life of a political leader.

This would be true to ask faith questions if one was writing about a relatively young Catholic father who is trying to make a career choice that would almost certainly pull him away from his family more than the political post that he already holds.

Let's say, for example, that this young father is trying to decide whether to become Speaker of the House.

Now, run an online search for the terms "Paul Ryan" and "Catholic" and you will get all kinds of things.

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