No group was more galvanized than Catholic Democrats, who were tired of Catholic leaders telling them they were bad Catholics or disinviting them from events at Catholic institutions. A group of young Catholic activists formed an organization called Catholics United, in part to hold politicians accountable on the issues they saw Catholic leaders largely ignoring. In 2007, they ran ads on Christian radio in the districts of members of Congress who opposed abortion and voted against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. “He says he’s pro-life, but for the second time in a month he’s voted against health-care for kids,” said the ad’s female narrator. “That’s not pro-life.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) is another Catholic who has been frustrated by the fact that although Church leaders criticize her votes on abortion legislation, they remain silent about her Republican Catholic colleagues who deviate from church teaching on other issues. Last month, DeLauro made public a letter she sent to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling on him to “personally address the devastating impact of this [GOP] budget.”…

Our politics benefit from including more religious perspectives. When politicians are forced to say how their faith informs their policies — instead of just citing it as part of their political identity — it becomes more difficult to use religion as a blanket explanation for a partisan stance. Instead of asserting that his budget is shaped by his Catholicism, Ryan has to delve into the tradition of Catholic social teaching. Boehner has to explain why he thinks the U.S. bishops are wrong to criticize the budget. And Obama will inevitably have to take on the charges from conservative Christians who are already calling his linkage of the Golden Rule and support for same-sex marriage “an appalling blasphemy.” Indeed, one of his own spiritual advisers — evangelical pastor Joel Hunter — says he is “disappointed” by Obama’s decision.