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Arriving at the "Proper" Moral Choice: Pittsburgh Catholics for Obama and the Issues of Social Justice`

Seitz, Alexandra Klaren (2009) Arriving at the "Proper" Moral Choice: Pittsburgh Catholics for Obama and the Issues of Social Justice`. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This thesis argues that in crafting a nuanced stance on 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama's "pro-choice" position, and by bringing to attention other key issues in his platform which coincided with important ethical concerns of Catholic thought, Pittsburgh Catholics for Obama (PCO) made various interventions into a public sphere where positions of progressive Catholics had not been prominently featured during the last decade. In order to understand the phenomenon of PCO both within and beyond its immediate political contexts, this project pursues three frames of inquiry which correspond to the thesis chapters. The first chapter situates PCO within the context of the theoretical issues raised by the debates that have ensued in the last thirty years on the question of religion and the public sphere, and secularism. The second offers a socio-historical perspective that places PCO within the post-Vatican II history of American Catholic political participation, thought and activism. Finally, the third chapter undertakes an ethnographic account of PCO's activism in order to provide a description and analysis of the group's engagement with the public sphere.The thesis shows that PCO positioned itself at the edge between a separatist Catholic culture and a political culture of the "common good" that seeks alliances and compromises with other political and cultural groups with whom it can share Catholic-informed but not restrictive principles of Catholic social teaching. By bringing together refined methods of grassroots activism in combination with the crafting of thoughtful public arguments that amplify particular tenants of Catholic social teaching, PCO carved out a space in the public sphere where its members could support a "pro-choice" presidential candidate while remaining loyal to Catholic ethical traditions.This thesis contributes to present-day scholarly discussions on the tension between exclusivist secularism and public religions in American political discourse. It analyzes the changing reality of the recent political positions of American Catholics from "single-issue voting" (abortion) to a search for common ground. Furthermore, it contributes to the study of the conflicted relationship between religion and politics as it has taken place in the American public sphere during last decade.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Seitz, Alexandra
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKane, Paula Mpmk@pitt.eduPMK
Committee MemberShear, Adamashear@pitt.eduASHEAR
Committee MemberChilson, Clarkchilson@pitt.eduCHILSON
Date: 29 September 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 5 May 2009
Approval Date: 29 September 2009
Submission Date: 24 July 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religious Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: American catholics; catholic; ethnography; religion and politics; secularism; abortion; catholicism; political science; obama
Other ID:, etd-07242009-112936
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:53
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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