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I just attended a forum that got my attention with “Is it time for a Catholic Tea Party?” (The idea is outlined in a column here.)

Deal Hudson, President of Catholic Advocate, was the main speaker- he feels that Catholics have let Evangelicals take the lead on life and gay marriage issues, and Catholics need to step up, donate money, vote for the right candidates, take the body shots, etc. He also felt that the USCCB has erred in some ways that it advocates for policies, and particularly regarding voter guidance. He talked a lot about the goals of Catholic Advocate (see their website here), in particular getting Catholic Members of Congress who are pro-life and in favor of traditional marriage. There was a time for questions, and a couple of people expressed great frustration at how lay Catholics, priests, bishops, etc. have failed to properly bring the message to voters and elected representatives. There was also talk about shutting off funding of organizations that are clearly not Catholic in action or faith.

I left for a few minutes, but when I came back there was discussion of how to properly balance life issues- for example, do the Iraq war, global warming and immigration issues outweigh abortion in regards to voting for a candidate?

Marco Rubio swung by to speak for a few minutes, and made the following points (paraphrased):

1. America is not the world’s police. That said, we are the only superpower that can stand against our enemies, even though our enemies constantly change- i.e. they may not have a capital.

2. Our domestic issues are related to our foreign policy issues, such as our owing debt to countries that don’t respect life.

3. Social/moral issues and economic issues are related. For example, our schools are not doing well, because of broken families and broken neighborhoods.

4. How can we help Rubio win:

A. Donate money. The campaign average is $100.

B. Spread the word.

C. Volunteer in the summer for the campaign.

I managed to get a two-minute interview with Deal Hudson, and asked him a couple of questions (paraphrased, as best I can remember):

DS: Why is gay marriage listed as one of your top issues, as opposed to immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious freedom, etc.?

DH: Religious freedom is above gay marriage. Regarding the other issues, gay marriage is important to keeping families, the basis of society, strong. No, it is not going to destroy traditional marriage, but it will subvert it. Marriage is not about committed relationships- it is about a singular kind of commitment created by God. (This last section, after the hyphen, is the best summary of what he said that I can remember. He did not say “God” in his comment, but I am interpreting off of memory. I do apologize for the lack of a direct quote.)

DS: We don’t live in a theocracy- how can we create a policy on gay marriage based upon our religious faith?

DH: Leave religion out of the policy debate. This is about the raising of children. Keep the argument focused on that.

The room was fairly full, with about 25 people in attendance. It was very interesting. I recommend checking them out- again, their website is here.

*This was originally posted at THE LOBBYIST.

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