With the beginning of a long year ahead of me, I am so excited to use this blog to track my progress. As a political science and history major, the theme of this year’s Ramonat fits directly in my interests. After completing the Newberry Library Undergraduate Seminar, I am looking forward to expanding my interest in research through another project. Hopefully, I can work on continuing my general research completed at the Newberry Library by exploring Catholic women in politics. Regardless, I am open and excited to discover the topics I decide to further research during my time at the Ramonat Seminar.
As I was not brought up religiously, I am excited to use this seminar to help broaden my knowledge of Catholicism in America. When I think of Catholics in America, my mind immediately goes to the Kennedy’s. However, when I think of how Catholics vote, I tend to think in terms of how conservative Protestants vote. For instance, one of the biggest political issues today is immigration. Immediately, I see Catholics as anti-immigrant, as Protestants traditionally align that way in some form; but, I ignore the fact that Catholics are more likely to be immigrants than other major religious groups. In short, a challenge for me in delving deeper into Catholicism this year will be to familiarize myself with the differences between different realms of Christianity. Although this is an easy task for some (mostly at Loyola), religion is a foreign topicwhich I continue to explore in my studies.
Along with immigration, abortion is one of the major political topics for Catholics today. In the past, I think questions of educational standards and war were big political matters for Catholics in America. No matter how knowledgeable you think you are with Catholicism, it is hard to pinpoint exactly how Catholic Americans will vote. Religion is one of the many intersectional traits that could determine one’s political views. We try to determine voting trends through studies like the Michigan Model, but theorists constantly encounter the odd one out who votes differently than expected. Religion can take a major factor in a person’s upbringing and can influence their morality, but it is important to remember that the political parties in the United States were not directly made through the influence of religion. Unlike other political parties rooted more so on religion, like the Sinn Féin in Ireland, American political parties have a blurrier correlation between religious involvement and political stances. The Catholic vote is spearheaded as one of the most important demographics in American politics, but I do not think it guarantees that all Catholics vote the same in political issues.