Catholics and evangelicals share something in common—and it’s not just belief that Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are the centerpiece of the Christian faith and good news for all the world. Both groups are despised by America’s liberal elites, who, as recent events and media coverage make clear, are engaged in a concerted effort to undermine their credibility, ridicule their beliefs, and eradicate whatever vestiges of influence they continue to exert over our nation’s public square.
For their mutual survival—as well as that of our nation—Catholics and evangelicals must look for new opportunities to craft strategic alliances.
First, let’s consider the threat. Last month, a public school administrator in Connecticut admitted to an undercover journalist that he wouldn’t hire Catholics because they are “brainwashed” and “conservative.” Earlier in August, the Atlantic published a ridiculous story calling the rosary “an extremist symbol” that is being used as “a weapon” by “radical-traditional Catholics.” Earlier this year, liberal elites relentlessly claimed that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was not, as the Court claimed, a repudiation of judicial activism, but an attempt by Catholic judges seeking to impose a “theocracy” upon the country. In other words, secular progressives can impose their vision on the nation, but even when conservative Catholics articulate arguments based on reason and natural law, it’s “theocratic.”
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Elites’ blatant condescension and antagonism is not limited to Catholics. Earlier this month, Washington Post columnist (and former conservative and George W. Bush speechwriter) Michael Gerson authored an extended essay attacking conservative evangelicals, especially those of a pro-Trump variety. The diatribe reached fever pitch toward the end, when Gerson declared “woe to evangelical hypocrisy,” “woe to evangelical exclusion,” and “woe, therefore, to Christian nationalism.” (Gerson, by the way, though originally from an evangelical background, is now solidly pro-LGBTQ+ and, I would argue, indistinguishable from a liberal Protestant.)
Gerson’s condemnation of evangelicals is just the tip of the iceberg. Legacy media celebrate evangelicals like David French and Russell Moore who have parted ways with their more conservative brethren. They accuse evangelicals of bigotry against transgender persons and of harboring racist sentiments. Academics, meanwhile, note that evangelical girls underperform in comparison to other demographics because their upbringing promotes “self-concepts centered on marriage and motherhood” while other American girls focus on “meaningful careers and public impact.” (The not-so-subtle implication in that research, and media coverage of it, is that evangelicals—and by extension traditionalist Catholics—train girls to be dumb.)
Like any demographic, there will always be examples of immorality or ignorance, corruption or cover-ups—that’s human nature. Catholics and evangelicals both have committed their fair share of sins and should be rightly criticized for them. Yet once you start paying attention to how much the media carefully unpacks every single negative story about Catholics and evangelicals, and how often liberal elites exhibit disdain toward them, it’s not difficult to discern a pattern. Religious conservatives who are pro-life, opposed to transgender ideology and sexual grooming, or are suspicious of gun legislation (to name but a few hot-button issues) are also carefully monitored and scrutinized for any potential sins or vulnerabilities.
Of course, it’s not that elites despise all Catholics and evangelicals—just the ones who oppose the Left’s radical social agenda coerced through schools, woke capitalists, the entertainment industry, and government bureaucrats. Thus they’re more than happy to trot out those capable of writing op-eds or agreeing to interviews who can declare with a smile: “I’m evangelical/Catholic and I’m pro-choice/pro-trans/a loud and proud drag queen.” That’s also why they love talking to Fr. James Martin.
There’s another double standard as well. Our elite class would never report stories, write op-eds, or conduct research that would show other demographics in the negative light they do to Catholics and evangelicals. Would a household-name publisher print a book titled How Arab Muslims Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation? Switch “Arab Muslims” to “white evangelicals” and you’ve got a bestseller. You won’t see the reporting on conspiracy theories popular in any non-white racial categories (like the widely held belief that the CIA pushed crack cocaine in black ghettoes), but you’ll see plenty about the role of QAnon in certain Catholic circles.
That elite institutions are biased and prejudiced against evangelicals and Catholics is of little surprise to conservatives. But what should we do about it? I would offer that we need stronger, more purposeful alliances between evangelicals and Catholics, both to resist these attacks and to present a stronger unified front on those issues that we share in common. Almost thirty years ago, the organization Evangelicals and Catholics Together released their first statement, which not only explained what bound the two religious groups together but explicitly condemned abortion in America. Almost fifty years ago, pro-life activists began the March for Life, which became a powerful example of evangelical and Catholic collaboration.
In an America increasingly hostile to traditional Christians, we need to not only reinforce the ecumenical qualities of the pro-life movement, but we need to expand out into other areas. Our communities, and our nation, require evangelical and Catholic partnerships to fight radical sexual agendas being pushed through our public schools and libraries (how about a “March for Kids” aimed at repudiating the sexualization of youth?).
We require ecumenical educational methodologies and curricula—such as Charlotte Mason—that can unite Catholics and evangelicals who don’t send their kids to parochial or denominational schools around common, eternal truths to impart to the next generation. And we require more ecumenical religious liberty partnerships—such as that found in legal organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom—that will labor to defend the ability of American citizens to practice their faith in the public square.
Elite institutions in this country will not stop attacking evangelicals and Catholics until they are confident we are no longer a threat to their secular, dystopian regime. Any vulnerabilities, no matter how marginal, will be exploited against us. We’re used to that, of course. Our Savior suffered far worse, and He told His followers to expect the same. His way was marked by prayer and longsuffering but also faith and charity. And He also knew an ally when he saw one. “For he that is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). We should take Christ’s advice.