19 October 2008

The "Social Sins": Anti-War vs. Anti-Abortion vs. Anti-Racism vs. Anti-Poverty vs. Anti-Torture

Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput recently shattered the wall supposedly separating Church and State in the US ("Obama the 'most committed' abortion-rights major-party presidential candidate since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision on abortion in 1973."). He was of course not the first prelate to do so, his companions were among others former St. Louis, now Vatican Archbishop Raymond L. Burke (Democratic Party = "party of death"), St. Louis Bishop Robert J. Herman (coming election = "Judgement Day"), Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell and Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann ("The reading of the letter during Mass on Sunday at Holy Trinity Church in downtown Dallas prompted about two dozen parishioners to walk out."), etc. Progressive Catholics are pushing back against these prelates' myopic obsession with abortion, e.g., Lisa Sowle Cahill (Professor of Theology at Boston College), Douglas Kmiec (Professor of Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush), Cathleen Kaveny (Professor of Law and Theology at the University of Notre Dame), Nicholas P. Cafardi (former dean of the Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh; recently de facto forced to resign as trustee of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio), etc.

In light of all this, I thought it useful to face off the attention some of the most commonly cited "social sins" had been getting from Googlers.

I widened the search to include the "against ..." phrases so as to try to account for all the Google-popularity. Worldwide, anti-war was very dominant, even more so in the early years when the Iraq War was still more in the news. Anti-abortion was a steady second and just this month overtook anti-war. Note the anti-racism high peak in February 2005. Let's have a closer look at each "social sin" now, starting with anti-war:

Interest was the highest by far in the US and from the top searches we learnt that the Iraq War indeed was mostly the context. How about anti-abortion?

Abortion was a major concern in the US and the Philippines. Supposedly hyper-Catholic Ireland didn't even show up in the top 10. Among the top and rising searches, I counted six that were looking for arguments against abortion, only three were "pro-life," i.e., interested in the opposite, and the majority (5) were neutral. Next, anti-racism:

Ireland was the clear leader, followed by the UK and Canada. The large interest in racism in Ireland might have had something to do with the aftermath of the "2004 Citizenship Referendum, in which, at a majority of four to one, the Irish electorate voted for the removal of birth-right citizenship to children of migrants." The US only came in at no. 7. I guess we've solved all our problems in that area ;-) What about the context of the searches? Soccer leagues organized campaigns, the music world got involved, Nike jumped on board, etc. The anti-poverty platform showed the following geographical pattern:

The Philippines was again no. 1, followed by Canada and Ireland. The US lagged far behind at no. 8. Finally, I reproduce the geography and context of anti-torture:

Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia were most interested in the problem of torture. The US came out seventh but was actually not that far behind in absolute interest numbers. The UN Convention Against Torture, human rights, refugees and even cat torture formed the context.

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