Former Congressman Dan Lipinski has urged faithful to be “Catholics first” in the public square, putting their faith above an excessive loyalty to party, personal comfort, or fear.
In an address at the University of Notre Dame’s de Nicola Fall Conference on Nov. 12, Lipinski said that the recent decline in practicing religion among the electorate has moved politics into a God-like position in the hearts and minds of people. He said this shift has intensified the practice of politics to a zero-sum game with no option of compromise, with devastating effects for both political institutions and people.
According to Lipinski, sectarian voters have emerged on both the left and the right— voters who are motivated more by their political party than by any other values— though he conceded that this is “more common” and arguably more dangerous among the left. Among the sectarian left, Lipinski asserted that muted “echoes of the French Revolution” can be heard.
Citing research from 2019 in the American Journal of Political Science, Lipinksi said that for sectarian voters, affiliation with a political party takes such precedence that it can “determine or change not just policy preferences but also their self-identified religion, class, or sexual orientation.”
Reportedly held together by “contempt for the other side,” Lipinski pointed to trends within the groups that make them function more like religions which require total adherence or members face banishment as a “heretic.”
Lipinski has personal experience with expulsion from a group over nonconformity. The last of a number of pro-life Democrats elected in the early 2000’s, Lipinski was primaried every election after becoming a pro-life leader among the Democratic party, until he was defeated in 2021 by pro-abortion Democrat Marie Newman.
“For sixteen years, with God’s grace, I tried however imperfectly to play my part as a Catholic in Congress,” Lipinski said. “I went to Congress knowing that I would face challenges within my party on some non-negotiable issues. I forthrightly proclaimed my position on these issues and said that I would not change.”
“This caused consternation among the sectarian partisans in my party, who viewed me with suspicion and saw my refusal to always follow the party line as betrayal,” he said.
“I was committed to being a Catholic first, before being a Democrat, and people recognized that. I had more than one constituent come up to me and say…’You vote Catholic.’”
Mary Hallan FioRito, the Cardinal Francis George Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, also weighed in.
“All Dan had to do to keep his seat was to say, ‘I’ll throw a pro-abortion vote or two your way,’” she said in her introductory remarks about the former Congressman. “Dan knew it could likely cause him his seat and it did….”
The above comes from a Nov. 13 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.