Religious leaders are generally uncomfortable to directly endorse any particular political candidate.

Leading up to yesterday’s Iowa Caucus, GOP leaders were touring the state and trying to prove that they are more Christian compared to their competition. A component of this ritual includes announcing a list of well-known Christian leaders supporting their respective campaigns. To give an example, Donald Trump, the Republican Party frontrunner, has won the valuable endorsement of Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of late Reverend Jerry Falwell. Ted Cruz, a U.S. Senator, and Trump's contender in the presidential race, has also won a number of endorsements like from James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the family, and also from Tony Perkins, the president of Family Research Council.

GOP candidates are fighting for the Evangelical vote, and for an excellent reason. In 2012, when then Iowa Republicans made a caucus, about 57 percent of the participants identified themselves as Evangelical Christians. Only 18 percent of the state's total population identifies themselves as Catholic.

However, bishops of the Catholic order continue to be in the spotlight, and the social services infrastructure of the Church is huge. Candidates believe that a backing from a big Catholic university or a hospital network could be seen as a potent approval by the Catholic voters.

However, the remaining candidates have garnered scant endorsements from the prominent Catholics. There are reasons for this. There is a marked reluctance to promote divisions on the issue of politics. The Catholic vote, ideally, should not be split between all major political parties is an important factor. There is also the reason that a majority of Catholics do not want leaders to endorse the candidates. These go to discourage any overt political support.

Catholic leaders have until now stayed low key during 2016 presidential nomination. A few of them have even criticized the anti-immigrant rhetoric spouted by Trump. The Catholic Vote president, Brian Burch, said that both ordained and lay Evangelicals frequently believe that steering their fellow believers towards a particular candidate is a component of their job. However, a number of Catholic priests and even a few lay leaders of Catholic organizations are hesitant to engage in politics directly. A 2014 done Pew study has revealed that among Catholics, only 32 percent believe that churches should endorse the religious leaders. In comparison, among white Evangelicals, it is 42 percent.


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