Dr. Melissa Deckman is a Professor of Political Science at Washington College and a PRRI Affiliated Scholar. Her research interests center on the intersection of religion, women, and politics. She has written in the past about the Christian Right’s participation in school board politics. Her most recent work is as co-editor and contributor to Curriculum and the Culture Wars: Debating the Bible’s Place in Public Schools. PRRI sat down with Dr. Deckman to discuss the significance of the book.
It’s been just over a week since Mitt Romney announced that Rep. Paul Ryan will be his running mate, but it seems possible that Romney’s choice of Ryan, a Catholic, could shift voters’ perspectives on the Republican ticket. In this week’s “Figuring Faith,” Dr. Robert P. Jones shows that Paul Ryan’s economic philosophy contrasts sharply with that of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, as well as American Catholics overall. According to Dr. Jones:
Earlier this year, the bishops sharply repudiated the Ryan budget plan’s cuts to hunger and nutrition programs that aid poor and working-class Americans, calling the proposed cuts “unacceptable,” “unjustified,” and “wrong.”
The essentials of the Ryan budget, particularly the deep cuts to programs that address the needs of the poor, are also at odds with Catholics overall. While a majority (60 percent) of Catholics agrees with Ryan that shrinking the deficit is a critical issue facing the nation, they disagree sharply with him on the correct approach to this goal. Central features of the Ryan budget include striking cuts to social welfare programs like Medicaid and Social Security. When American Catholics, however, are asked about measures that could help reduce the deficit, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Catholics oppose cutting federal funding for social programs that help the poor. Over 6-in-10 (62 percent) Catholics also agree that protecting Social Security is a critical issue facing the country.