Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2012 / 30 Tishrei, 5773
Joe Biden's Religion: Catholicism or Leftism?
By Dennis Prager
"My religion defines who I am. And I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And it has particularly informed my social doctrine. Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who — who can't take care of themselves, people who need help.
"With regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion as a — what we call de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That's the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life.
"But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews and — I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the congressman.
"I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that women, they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor, in my view. And the Supreme Court — I'm not going to interfere with that."
Let's analyze this response.
1. "My religion defines who I am."
If a conservative, evangelical Christian candidate for national office said that he defined himself by his religious beliefs, liberals would be screaming that the wall between church and state was in danger of being taken down.
Here is the rule in American politics: When the left uses religion to promote liberal policies, it is a beautiful thing. When the right uses religion to promote conservative policies, it threatens the separation of church and state and may lead to the creation of a theocracy.
2. "It has particularly informed my social doctrine. Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who can't take care of themselves, people who need help."
This illustrates my previous point. Biden's Catholicism leads him to promote liberal social policies, specifically an ever-expanding state to take care of "people who need help." What else could his statement mean? After all, what religion doesn't expect its adherents to take "care of those who can't take care of themselves"? Protestant Christianity? Judaism? Islam? Buddhism? Mitt Romney's Mormonism?
Since all religions do, what is the difference between Romney's religious call to help the less fortunate and Biden's religious call to help these people?
The difference, as seen in the enormous difference between Biden's charitable donations and Romney's, is the difference between conservatism and liberalism: Conservatism holds that we all have to take care of ourselves and our fellow citizens; liberalism holds that the state — funded by some of us — has to.
3. "I accept my church's position on abortion ... I just refuse to impose that on others."
This sounds beautiful to liberals. But it is as un-thought-through as it is un-Catholic.
Why is Mr. Biden completely comfortable with policies that "impose on others" what he understands as Catholic "social doctrine"? He will use the government to forcefully take people's money away and impose whatever policies he thinks Catholic social doctrine favors. Why, then, will he not impose on others his church's definition of the worth of human life from conception?
There are three possible answers. One is that he doesn't really believe in his church's position on abortion. A second is that he does believe in it but would have to leave the Democratic Party if he tried to implement that policy. The third is that he believes that the Church's views on abortion only pertain to Catholics — and even then, only on a "personal" basis.
If we are to take him at his word, that latter is what he believes: that his church's view on abortion only applies to him personally: "Life begins at conception. That's the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life." But if that is his opinion, his religiosity is not morally meaningful. If an act is moral or immoral only for him, then it is not moral or immoral. Either something is immoral for everyone (in the same circumstance) or it is not immoral.
Which is why the Church's teaching is that abortion is morally wrong for everyone, just as neglecting the needy is morally wrong for everyone.
But Joe Biden would never say that the Catholic Church's social doctrine is only valid "in my personal life." So, what does Joe Biden, the Catholic, believe about abortion?
These statements by the vice-president of the United States provide one more example of the fact that leftism — not Christianity, not Catholicism, and not Islam — has been the most influential religion in the world for the last century.
Only when Catholicism agrees with leftism is Joe Biden prepared to impose it. When his Catholicism does not agree with leftism, it is reduced to being a matter of personal matter of faith, no more binding on non-Catholics than receiving the Eucharist.
And in this regard he is no different from many Jews and Protestant Christians. Their religious expression may be Judaism or Christianity, but their religion, like Biden's, is leftism. Which is why liberal Jews and liberal Christians have much more in common than liberal Jews have with conservative Jews or liberal Christians have with conservative Christians. They share what they deem truly important — leftism.
JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. Click here to comment on this column.
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