A new Web site recently launched with a goal of recruiting 10,000 Catholic volunteers to help solicit votes for presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Taking the title "10,000 Catholics for Obama," the site features a section that offers reasons why Catholics should vote for the putative Democratic presidential nominee. The site, which is independent of the campaign, praised Obama's policy positions that it claims would care for the poor, create a fair immigration system, and build a unifying leadership.
Its effort is in response to resistance by some Catholics to vote for Obama because of his support of abortion rights, which the Catholic Church is strongly against.
Last Thursday, Obama again emphasized that he "will never back down in defending a woman's right to choose" whether to have an abortion during a "Women for Obama" breakfast fundraiser with Sen. Hillary Clinton. His stance on life has prompted the Christian Defense Coalition to launch a campaign called "Barack Obama: The Abortion President." Posters advertising the campaign show Obama dressed up like Uncle Sam saying, "I Want You to Pay for Abortions," noting that the Democratic candidate would have Catholics and evangelicals pay for abortions through his health care plan and other policies.
The pro-Obama Web site, however, is urging Catholics to focus not just on one or two issues but to consider the "holistic agenda" of the candidate as compared to Catholic teaching.
"We take the abortion issue very seriously but at the same time abortion has been used as a wedge issue to divide voters," the site's co-creator Peter James Kralovec said to Christian Broadcasting Network. "We have seen some resistance in some circles but we want to express some facts about the senator's record on abortion and change the dialogue on this issue."
Kralovec and other Notre Dame graduates had begun their effort as a Facebook group called "Catholics for Obama United." But their success in gathering members led them to re-organize their effort into action oriented recruitment.
The group's choice of the number 10,000 – small compared to the tens of millions of Catholics in America – is said to be just a starting goal. The number is expected to continue to increase.
Earlier this week, a Gallup poll indicated that Obama received strong support among religious Hispanic Catholics, a group known for their strong opposition to abortion. The majority of this group, 57 percent, supported Obama compared to McCain's 31 percent.
Although it is bit surprising, Gallup noted that race might be a factor since also an overwhelming percentage of religious black non-Catholic Christians, 90 percent, also backed Obama.
Other than religious Hispanic Catholics and religious non-Catholic Christians, other religious segments of American voters chose Republican John McCain over Obama.