Voters reject clergy antics

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 19, 2004 9:23PM (EDT)

Here's an idea: The Catholic Church should stay out of politics. Who said it? The people of New Jersey, who have witnessed church leaders there threatening their Catholic governor with publicly denying him Communion because he supports abortion rights. McGreevey is just one of the Democratic politicians being taunted so by church leaders -- interestingly, Republican politicians who support abortion rights have not suffered similar treatment.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows the church's antics in New Jersey are backfiring with voters -- 68 percent disapprove. Catholic voters disapprove 64 to 27 percent. By a 74 to 21 percent margin, 69 to 25 percent among Catholics, voters say it is wrong for Catholic church leaders to try to pressure politicians on issues such as abortion. Voters say 76 to 22 percent that a public official's religious beliefs should be a private matter, not a matter for public discussion.

"New Jersey voters -- including Catholics -- want church leaders to stay out of politics and get off Gov. McGreevey's back. Voters say it is wrong for Catholic Church leaders to cross that line between church and state and try to pressure Catholic politicians on issues such as abortion. The church's attack on the Governor is clearly one of the reasons McGreevey's approval numbers are bouncing back," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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