More VOTF data supports my thesis

More VOTF data supports my thesis

I’ve got more data from Voice of the Faithful’s survey of its membership and it confirms what I thought. The group is not at all representative of the Church at large and mainly consists of aging wealthy, white, liberal boomers.

Here’s more of the relevant data:

  • 60 percent of members are female.

  • Almost 90 percent were born in 1965 or before. More than 40 percent were born before 1961.

  • More than 65 percent are Irish, Italian, English, French, or Eastern European. Thirty-five percent fall into a category of other. (Interestingly only 13 percent are Italian, 11 percent are French, and 64 percent are Irish; the numbers don’t add up to 100 because people can be more than one ethnic heritage)

  • Eighty-eight percent have college degrees and 60 percent have graduate degrees

  • Seventeen percent are ordained, presumably priests and deacons

  • Not unexpectedly almost 60 percent are the product of Catholic colleges

  • Only 23 percent reported having more than 3 children

  • Sixty-seven percent work are academics, professionals, or business executives.

  • Less than a quarter have a household income under $50,000

  • Again not surprisingly, almost half identify themselves as politically liberal. Another 37 percent are moderate and only 13 percent as conservative. Considering that the vast majority of Americans identify themselves as moderate, it shows again how much out of the mainstream they are.

  • Similarly, 63 percent identify with the Democrats, 18 percent are independent, and only 18 percent are Republican.

  • Finally, I find it just as interesting that in the question about what Catholic publications people read, all of them are liberal: America, Commonweal, and The National Catholic Reporter. Gee, why don’t they expect their members to read Catholic World Report, Crisis, or The National Catholic Register?

A couple more tidbits: only 85 percent are registered members of a parish and 22 percent said they are considering leaving the Catholic Church.

  • Perhaps this is a group for whom the revolution in the Church in the years immediately following the Council came at a time when their value system was in formation, and religiously they got stuck in revolution mode.

    I’d be willing to bet that Humane Vitae is central to all the rest of what they are about religiously.  That encyclical probably would have had far less of an impact if there were good methods of NFP available back then.  But when it was promulgated, all the laity had was rhythm—a notoriously unreliable system.  And no one thought that Paul VI would oppose birth control until he actually did it.  He left the Catholic laity in a state of shock.

  • Darn!  I wish they had asked their members how many of them have been through their diocesan “lay ministry” courses. That, my friends, is where the folks with the heterodox agenda are lurking.

  • Way down among the Newton suburbs,
    Far, far away,
    That’s where graying hippies gather,
    Still hopping to get their way.
    All the world is sad and dreary,
    No matter what they do,
    Still waiting for that Revolution,
    “In the Spirit of Vatican II.”

  • Dom,

    How does this compare to the Church in America as a whole?  That seems to me to be the important comparison, not the numbers as absolutes. 

    Or to politically active members of the Church as a whole?  It seems pretty reasonable that any activist group would be wealthier and have more years of education, for example, than the general population.

  • They did include comparisons to non-VOTF Catholics. I’d have to look up the data when I get to that computer. I can say that in almost all cases the VOTF members differed markedly in most categories. Of course, most American Catholilcs are non-practicing, while VOTF members, whatever else you can say about them, are usually people who are involved in their Church, by definition, heterodox or no.

  • Here, I found some stuff that answers my question.  According to this article

    36 percent of Catholics and less than 25 percent of VOTF, have incomes under $50,000 (so the VOTF are richer than most)

    36 percent of Catholics, and 88 percent of VOTF, are college graduates

    33 percent of white Catholics, and approximately 13 percent of VOTF, “say they’re conservative on most political matters.” 

  • Have you read Eugene McCarraher’s essay “Smile when you say Laity”?  It criticizes the attempts of the managerial class to restructure the church along technocratic lines.  The predomniance of professionals in this survey reminded me of the essay. Suprisingly enough, it’s from Commonweal.

  • In my experience a lot of these people are the product of large upwardly mobile families of the post-war period. They have an institutional or cultural attachment to Catholicism but effectively abandoned traditional church doctrine in the post-V2 period. Thus they like to think of themselves as Catholics in the spirit of the council. Their children often see no point to the Church.

  • Bearing,

    I would expect people who join a group supposedly dedicated to reform of the Church to be be nearly 100 percent members of a parish. It’s not a good comparison with self-identified Catholics because the vast majority of baptized Catholilcs are not active Catholics. Again, I would expect such supposedly dedicated Catholics to be nearly 100 percent members of parishes.


    That was a very good essay. There are some good nuggets of information which go a long way toward explaining, for example, how Archbishop O’Malley is turning to managerial-professional types to “fix” things in the archdiocese. Or that infamous secret meeting of liberal lay Catholics with certain bishops in which they “offered” their expertise in managing the Church.

  • Just reading the latest Sowell column and came across the following which reminded me of the VOTF mindset:

    T.S. Eliot: “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm—but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”