Email leaks raise questions about Clinton staffers’ respect for practicing Catholics
By NBP Staff | October 13, 2016, 8:32 EST
WASHINGTON, DC – Still reeling from revelations that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton belittled supporters of her Republican opponent as racist and bigoted “deplorables,” the Clinton campaign today was forced to address allegations that members of Clinton’s inner circle harbor anti-Catholic animus.
The controversy stems from an email dump this week by Wikileaks of conversations between long-time Clinton confidant John Podesta and Clinton aide Jen Palmieri. The emails are highly critical of conservative Catholics and other “ordinary Americans.” Podesta currently serves as chairman of Clinton’s presidential campaign. Palmieri is Clinton’s campaign communications director.
One email thread from 2011 contains the subject line “Conservative Catholicism.” The conversation begins with a message from John Halpin, then a fellow at the Center for American Progress, to Podesta and Palmieri in which Halpin refers to conservative Catholicism as an “amazing bastardization of the faith” and mocks converts to Catholicism as people drawn to the Church’s “severely backwards gender relations.”
Halpin’s email mocks media mogul Rupert Murdoch for becoming Catholic and raising his children in the Catholic. It further complains that many of the “most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the [Supreme Court] and think tanks to the media and social groups.”
Palmieri responded to Halpin that these Catholic converts choose their faith out of political necessity.
“[Catholicism] is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion,” Palmieri wrote.
“Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
Moreover, emails released this week show that in 2012 Podesta had an email exchange with Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, regarding the need for a “revolution” in the Catholic Church. Podesta wrote that, although groups like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United had been created to push for a more progressive approach to the faith, change would “have to be bottom up.”
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon on Wednesday responded to the controversy by tweeting, “Latest faux controversy out of @Wikileaks hack: Accusing Jen Palmieri, who is Catholic, of being anti-Catholic.”
Latest faux controversy out of @Wikileaks hack: Accusing Jen Palmieri, who is Catholic, of being anti-Catholic.
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) October 12, 2016
But Joseph Cella, Catholic Liaison to the Trump/Pence campaign, called on Clinton to apologize to American Catholics.
“[The emails] reveal the depths of the hostility of Hillary Clinton and her campaign toward Catholics, and the open anti-Catholic bigotry of her advisors,” wrote Cella.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who is Catholic, said on a media conference call that Clinton must apologize for “hostility to religious liberty and to the beliefs we hold as Catholics.”
Speaking on the same call, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a convert to Catholicism, told reporters that “[n]ow we know what Hillary meant by deplorables. It’s people of faith.” Gingrich also said that a Clinton Supreme Court would be the “most anti-liberty, most anti-free speech” in history.
Last year, a Pew Research study revealed that between 2009 and 2014, the number of white Catholic voters who regard President Obama, and more broadly the Democratic Party, as “unfriendly to religion” rose from 17 percent to 36 percent.
But Dr. Patrick Maney, a professor of History at Boston College who has written extensively on the Clintons, offered a somewhat different take. In an interview with the NewBostonPost, Maney said: “The [emails] say less about Hillary Clinton [and the Democratic party] than about the sad state of public discourse today.”
Maney added that in the current political climate, it is nearly impossible to have a serious or respectful dialogue involving religion, noting that both sides of the aisle have lost sight of the philosophical underpinnings of their party’s original platforms.
Read the emails here: