The Catholic Church: The Most Effective Religious Force in American Politics

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 15 September 2015
Church and State

The Vatican has created the illusion that it is not a major actor in U.S. policy making. (Credit: Riccardo De Luca – Update /

This excerpt has been adapted from Chapter 16 of our Chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996). The book is available at Kindle here and to read for free here.

Vatican Setting U.S. Policy to Protect Interests

Few Americans, even few Catholics, have any idea of the extent to which the Church has gone to impose its religious dogma on all Americans, including unwilling Catholics, through law-making, judicial decision-making and the administration of government. When you ask most people the question, “How much influence do Catholic bishops have in the governing of America?” most likely they will respond: “None.” The Catholic Church has successfully created the illusion that this is out of its realm.

According to Alan D. Hertzke, author of Representing God in Washington and a professor at the University of Oklahoma, “There’s pretty good evidence that most Church members have no knowledge of what their national Church leaders are doing…. Despite its absolute theological stand on many issues, the Catholic Church has proved to be one of the most effective religious forces in practical politics.”[1]

David Briggs, in a December 1990 series for the Associated Press, stated: “And the Catholic Church may become the strongest power because it is willing to form coalitions with a wide range of allies.”[2] These allies sometimes include opportunistic people and institutions with little concern for the well-being of this country or our people. Governments tend to fall in behind public opinion and public opinion is led by the Church on nearly all issues important to its own security.

In an August 1990 “Member Alert,” Robert Maddox, executive director of the mainstream organization, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, placed in perspective just how powerful the Catholic lobbying effort really is: “The U.S. Catholic Conference enjoys an unprecedented veto power over all social legislation.” That’s powerful! The Catholic Church’s influence is unmatched by any other U.S. institution.

The Catholic extremist Paul Weyrich heads the Center for Catholic Policy within his Free Congress Foundation. However, he also heads up the Siena Group, a coalition of 40 Roman Catholic public policy organizations.[3] If the Catholic Church were not deeply involved in the making of U.S. public policy, why would it need so many public policy organizations? Undeniably, the most powerful of all remain the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Catholic Conference, operating out of their imposing office building near the Capitol.

The Church’s lobbying effort is tens of thousands of people strong on the national, state and local levels. These people are knowledgeable about the workings of government, well financed, highly organized, and deeply committed. And they are successful. For example, in November 1995, a bill prohibiting over 1 million federal employees and their dependents from choosing health insurance that covers abortion, was enacted. That same month a measure that denies abortion services for military women stationed overseas, including women serving in Bosnia, became law.[4] On the state level, for example, in 1989 the Church managed the introduction of 270 bills in 41 state legislatures on the abortion issue alone.[5]

The costs of policies adopted as a result of the Catholic lobby, in dollar terms alone, are horrendous. For example, the costs of implementing immigration policies (policies which are shaped almost entirely by the extensive Catholic lobbying effort) were estimated by Dr. Donald L. Huddle, Professor of Economics, Rice University, to be $45 billion in 1992 alone. He projects the immigration costs to be $668.5 billion over the next decade.[6] A significant part of this money goes into Vatican coffers as the U.S.’s leading immigration service contractor. American taxpayers are footing this bill with barely a whimper.

One of the most important questions facing Americans today is: Should representatives of the Papacy be permitted any access to U.S. policy making whatsoever, given the fact that Papal security-survival interests are diametrically opposed to the security-survival interests of all Americans?

[1] Briggs, D. “Evangelicals’ White House Clout Fades.” (Raleigh) News & Observer, December 26, 1990, p. 2A.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Conn, op.cit.
[4] Michaelman K. NARAL Membership fundraising letter. January 1996. p. 1.
[5] Wattleton F. 1992 letter to Planned Parenthood Federation of America supporters. New York.
[6] Anonymous. “Immigration costs taxpayers $45 billion in 1992.” Population/Environment Balance Report, December 1993, p. 1.

Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.

Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.

In addition to his books on biomedical and social aspects of family planning, as well as scientific articles in more than a score of journals, Dr. Mumford’s major works include American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (Amherst, New York: Humanist Press, 1984), The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1986), and The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996).

The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH
Paperback Publisher: Center for Research on Population and Security (October 1996)
Kindle Publisher: Church and State Press (February 6, 2015)
Kindle Store

During the formative years of the World Health Organization (WHO), broad consensus existed among United Nations member countries that overpopulation is a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future. One of the founding fathers of the WHO, the late Milton P. Siegel, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992. He explains how the Vatican successfully stymied the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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