Election-season whoppers are nothing new to politics, Presidential or otherwise. The number of exaggerations, empty-promises, false claims, and flat-out lies which make their way into the debates or onto the campaign trail may be staggering, but it is hardly surprising to us anymore, as we are by now quite used to these myths and misstatements. In a year in which the so-called Catholic vote  once again looks to figure prominently—and during an election which will have some important ramifications for the freedoms of Catholics in America—it is no more surprising that some of the fabrications might be aimed specifically at Catholics. It is perhaps not even surprising that the fabrications in question are misapplications of Catholic faith and theology.
Similar fabrications were, after all, aimed at Catholics during the last election cycle. This was the election during which Vice-President Joe Biden and Congressman Nancy Pelosi (incorrectly) invoked Saints Thomas Aquinas and Augustine (respectively) to support their records as pro-abortion Catholics, falsely suggesting thereby that there is some doubt as to whether a faithful Catholic can support abortion . This election cycle turns from a muddying of clearly established Catholic moral teaching to an attempt at hijacking Catholic sacramental theology by the Obama Campaign, or more specifically by “Catholics for Obama.”
In their reported calls (allegedly targeted at young Catholics, no less), they open by asking how we can support a Mormon candidate—Mitt Romney—for president. Points for irony that religious bigotry should be used to woo people of a religion which has seen its share of bigotry directed against it. The rest of their script contains an admixture of fear-mongering, false claims, and even blatant lies , but the thing begins by throwing some confusing onto one of the sacraments.
There are, after all, two possible interpretations of the claim that Mitt Romney is not trustworthy because he is a Mormon, given the context that these claims are meant to convince Catholics . The first possibility is that we shouldn’t trust him, because he belongs to a heretical sect, that is, because his religious beliefs are so obvious wrong in the light of Catholic faith, that in a sense they are even hostilely at-odds with Catholicism.
It is entirely possible that the people running the “Catholics for Obama” campaign are so ignorant of Catholicism  that they don’t see the incongruity of their claim. After all, President Obama is a Protestant, which is also heretical by Catholic standards. Now, it is certainly true that most Protestants are less (even far less) heretical than Mormons, or that they come closer to the fulness of the Catholic Faith. They do, after all, share with us a belief in such points of Traditional teaching as the doctrine of the Trinity or the divine inspiration of the Bible  or the closure of public revelation after the death of the last apostle. On the other hand, many Protestants, like Mormons, subscribe to such falsehoods as the myth that a great apostasy occurred after the last apostle died, or that Catholic baptisms are invalid, or that the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization and a false Church of apostates. Some Protestants (and others) of anti-Catholic persuasion have held elected office in the past without the Church’s suffering adverse effects .
The point still remains that if we can’t trust a practicing Mormon like Romney, because his religious beliefs are wrong, then we can’t trust a non-practicing Protestant like Obama for the same reason. Conversely, if it is okay to trust a Protestant as President despite a difference of religious beliefs, then it should be okay to trust a Mormon despite the same. Indeed, since it is largely the moral and not the theological doctrines which inform the likely policies of a President, we should be asking which candidate’s morals are more closely in line with the Church’s . Although as the members of “Catholics for Choice” well know, sometimes a person’s morality is not actually informed in the least by his religion.
This leaves us with the second possible interpretation of the question, which is that it is not the beliefs of the President which matter, but rather the validity of his baptism. The implication is that somehow a person’s baptism will make him a better President (or other office holder); and similarly, that his lack of a valid baptism will make him a worse President and cause him to be less trustworthy as an office-holder. It is an interesting litmus test for electing officials , but rather bad theology. Actually, the effects of Baptism are spelled out quite clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
By Baptism, all sins are forgiven, original sin and all person sins, as well as punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remain that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.
Yet certain temporal consequences of sin remain in the baptized, such as suffering, illness, death and such frailties inherent in life as weakness of character, and so on, as well as an inclination to sin that Tradition calls concupiscence, or metaphorically, “the tinder for sin” (fomes peccati)… [CCC 1263-1264; my emphases in bold]
Other effects and graces include adoption as children of God, incorporation into the Body of Christ (CCC 1265), and the granting of graces necessary for salvation (CCC 1266). They specifically do not include a strengthening of a person’s character (CCC 1264) or a removal of the temporal consequences of sin: in other words, baptism in and of itself does not make a person more “trustworthy” in public or private life, nor does it grant the grace to be a better president, nor remove the weaknesses imposed on our nature by sin. Furthermore, the specific effects of Original Sin on our nature—proclivity to sin, a darkened intellect, a weakened will—remain with us after baptism as before.
“Catholic for Obama” (among others) would have us believe that the fact that Mitt Romney is not validly baptized means that he will be a worse President. This is a claim which is not actually supported by the Catholic Faith, since neither the explicit nor the implicit effects of baptism pertain to the virtues  most needed by elected official, nor does it take away the darkening of our intellects and the weakening of our wills. Neither is this claim actually supported by history, as we have had any number of decent or good presidents whose valid baptisms might be cast into doubt, whether deists like Jefferson or Unitarians like Adams and Taft, nor Jehovah’s Witnesses like Eisenhower (who was, however, baptized Presbyterian after being elected to office).
Actually, to claim that baptism makes for a better president is to equate it more with magic than with grace, an equation which is obviously to be rejected by thoughtful Catholics (or indeed, Christians in general). None of this proves that a Catholic should vote for Romney, or even that there is no gamble involved with so doing , or that there are no problems with Romney’s proposed policies or personal life. That a faithful Catholic cannot in good conscience vote for Obama does not obligate him to vote for Romney, nor for that matter does not trusting Romney mean he has an excuse to vote for Obama. What it does mean, however, is that Romney’s Mormonism—whether theology or invalid baptism—is not a good argument for voting against him.
If his Mormonism made him likely to wield the power of government to persecute the Church, this would be a good reason to oppose him. He has not really indicated that he is likely to do so, any more than Thomas Jefferson’s Deism or Millard Fillmore’s Know-Nothingism made them use the government to erode the religious liberties of Catholics. No, such misuse of government power has been largely limited to the Obama administration. It is shameful that “Catholics for Obama” tries to obscure this, and equally shameful that they are willing to invoke bad theology under the guise of faithful Catholicism to do so.
 A mythical beast, I assure you, since practicing Catholics tend to vote differently from non-practicing ones, however hard the pundits try to lump us all together.
 A faithful Catholic cannot do this, and any Catholic who willingly helps to procure an abortion receives a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication. Indeed, neither Saint Augustine nor Saint Thomas Aquinas considered abortions to be moral under any circumstances, though the idea idea behind then-Speaker Pelosi’s and Vice President’s Biden’s invocation was that both saints subscribed to Aristotle’s idea of ensoulment as occurring sometime after conception. How the antiquated and scientifically un-informed idea that ensoulment occurs 40 days post-conception for males and 80 days post-conception for females can be cited to support the killing of both through the end of gestation is beyond me, though I suppose it makes sense of sex-selective abortions, albeit before the sex of the child can be determined. This latter development occurs, by modern technological standards, after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Actually, current scientific theory states that biologically the sex of an embryo is determined after about 12-13 weeks, which is some time after males embryos are supposedly ensouled, and after females ones too for that matter.
 For example, “Planned Parenthood helps children get health care and prenatal care and does not promote abortion.” This is not a mere misstatement (as Biden’s gaffe about how Planned Parenthood can’t perform abortions) or even a merely misleading statement which is technically true: it is a flat-out lie.
 I am also left to wonder who thought it would be a good idea to use religious bigotry to appeal to American Catholics, a group who have been the near-constant target of religious bigotry ourselves.
 After all, we have no actual proof that anyone in this campaign is actually a Catholic. Since they are so willing to tell open and flagrant lies about other things , why, exactly, should we believe them when they claim to be Catholics?
 Or maybe I should say that their canon of the Bible is much closer to the Catholic canon than the Mormon one is, adding no books and subtracting only seven plus a few other fragments, which the Mormons also do. The Mormons, on the other hand, have a whole new (and substantial) book which they add to Scripture.
 Though to be fair, many of these presidents who are “personally anti-Catholic” or from denominations or sects which have been historically anti-Catholic have been among the worst presidents in the nation’s history, so there’s that.
 The results of this line of questions aren’t pretty, unfortunately. On the whole, however, I think that Mormonism comes closer or ends in a draw with President Obama’s own flavor of Protestantism, even if Mr Romney’s morals do not look like a shining beacon of hope for the pro-life movement.
 Of course, Article VI Paragraph 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America states that we should not have such religious litmus tests for president, but that’s a discussion for another day.
 The Catechism of the Council of Trent also notes that baptism does result in the outpouring of virtues (RC Part II Question L), but the Catechism of the Catholic Church clarifies for us that these are primarily the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity) and the ability to grow in virtue, both in the context of helping to sanctify the baptized through the grace of justification (CCC 1266). Although public and private morality are intertwined—and thus public and private virtues—this is not an indication that being baptized makes a person a better temporal leader.
 Albeit one which is at least reasonable and worth taking.