The XX Factor

There’s No Religious Prejudice in Politics…Except Towards Muslims

If Sonia Sotomayor is confirmed, six out of nine Supreme Court justices will be Catholic . Barbara Perry, a professor of government at Sweetbriar College who is writing a book about Catholic justices went on CNN radio to discuss Sotomayor’s nomination. She was joined by Catholic League President Bill Donohue.

Perry claims that “in our politics, religion doesn’t matter anymore,” but then she added, “I don’t think our politics are ready for an Islamic justice at this point.” Bill Donohue was more realistic in his assessment of the number of Catholic judges. On the show, Donohue hypothesized that a number of Catholic judges had been nominated by Republican presidents because they “have conservative credentials on issues such as abortion, without the political baggage of terms such as the ‘religious right’ or ‘evangelicals.’”

It’s difficult to argue at this point that Catholics or even Evangelical Christians have a disadvantage when being appointed for goverment positions, and it strikes me as odd that Catholicism is still being discussed as if it were real minority affiliation. According to the most recent Pew Religious Landscape Survey , 78.4 percent of Americans describe themselves as Christian, with 26.3 percent identifying as Evangelicals and 23.9 percent identifying as Catholic. These religions are hardly fringe groups.

Although it seems like Professor Perry blurted it out, I think she’s probably right: America is not ready for an Islamic or Buddhist or Hindu or any non-Judeo-Christian justice, and it’s unclear when they will be.