Guest / Limited Access /

After President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, Sweet Briar College's Barbara Perry told The New York Times, "This would add a whole new meaning to the Catholic rite of confirmation." She was joking about the likelihood of a Catholic majority on the Court.

That majority would be notable, considering Samuel Alito would be only the 12th Catholic in the Court's 110-justice history. But "the most remarkable thing about it is that it's unremarkable," Catholic University's Dennis Coyle told The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. "That says something about how mainstream Catholicism has become in intellectual and legal circles."

"The religion factor no longer matters," Perry says. But for some it still does. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, complained that a Catholic majority would "underrepresent other religions, not to mention nonbelievers."

Such comments are thankfully rare. Most pundits and politicians are wary of the Constitution's ban on a "religious test for office."

It's not as if the Catholic majority "is going to put any papal encyclicals into American law," says an editorial in the Sharon (Mass.) Advocate. "But if such fears exist, the Roman Catholic Church is doing nothing to calm them." Bishops who threaten to withhold Communion from pro-choice lawmakers are only instituting their own "religious test" for office, the paper said.

If the bishops do not similarly warn Catholic judges, Amy Sullivan wrote for Beliefnet, they "reveal their policy for dealing with Catholic public officials for what it is—a political, partisan tactic."

But if a judge "were to act in a way that he would reach decisions on the basis of Catholic teaching, that in itself would be a violation of Catholic ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended33 Under 33, Continued
33 Under 33, Continued
Your recommendations for Christian millennials to watch.
TrendingMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
Time to Get Judicially Serious
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.