Joe Biden is a Catholic, a minority sect among American Christians. Should the Democrat be confirmed US president, he would be yet another example of how minorities are breaking old barriers in the country.
If President Donald Trump’s legal challenges fail, Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden will become the second Catholic president in the US after John F. Kennedy in a Protestant-majority country.
There have long been some myths and conspiracies surrounding the assassination of Kennedy, alleging that the president was killed because of his Irish Catholic roots.
Like Kennedy, Biden is also Catholic with Irish roots.
While many Catholics in the US have tended to be less religious, Biden comes across as a practicing Catholic, who goes to the church every Sunday. He is said to carry a rosary in his pocket.
He also partly built his opposition to the sitting president on a religious argument, describing his fellow Americans under Trump as a "nation in the wilderness", which has appeared to be a reference to the Jews of the Bible, when they were punished by God to live in the desert for a period of time due to their disobedience to God’s word and Prophet Moses’ direction.
During his victory speech, he again referred to the Bible, making clear how the Anglo-Saxon-origin of American secularism is so different from the rigid French secularism of President Emmanuel Macron.
“We are not enemies. We are Americans. The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season — a time to build, a time to reap, a time to sow. And a time to heal. This is the time to heal in America,” Biden said.
During the pandemic-hit campaign trail, Biden has referred to his faith and religious themes various times, making a lot of people around him think that he might have run “the most overtly devout Democratic presidential campaign since Jimmy Carter in 1976,” according to top campaign officials.
Carter, a former one-term Democratic president, has also been known for his religiosity.
"Part of him being who he is, he has these kind of touchstones that so deeply resonate with the kind of cultural Catholicism in those kind of places like the Ohio and Pennsylvania of the world," said John McCarthy, the deputy political director of the Biden campaign.
Some numbers from recent elections might approve McCarthy’s assertion as Pennsylvania, a large Catholic-majority swing state, has appeared to go for Biden in both a dramatic and fateful fashion. Biden is originally from Pennsylvania.
Biden’s religiousness could be an interesting aspect in a party, where faith has appeared to lose some ground to more secular interpretations of other lifestyles, as nearly 40 percent of Democratic voters describe themselves as religiously-unaffiliated.
"Joe is someone for whom the ways in which he sees issues around racial justice, around the treatment of refugees and immigrants — all of that is connected to a view of other people — who he sees as neighbor, who he sees as being made in the image of God," said Chris Coons, a Delaware senator and a friend of Biden, who has held the elected office from Delaware for decades, according to NPR.
Non-whites are on the march
Despite the fact that Biden belongs to a minority faith, the American majority, which has long been defined as White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant (WASP), is also on the brink of losing its dominant character in the upcoming decades, according to census and other data.
Many experts estimate that other minority aspects across the US will appear to dominate the American life inevitably in the 2040s.
According to different models, by mid-century, non-white populations will exceed over 50 percent, making the country’s white population a minority in the US.
A 2019 Brookings institution analysis has shown that the white majority-non-white minority balance in the US might have already changed as the country’s non-white population under 15 has passed white youths under the same category.
In 2008, Barack Obama as a Black American, whose father was a Muslim, succeeded in becoming the nation’s first non-white president, signalling an upcoming political trend of non-white strength.
In 2020, Biden’s vice-presidential pick Kamala Harris, hails herself from a minority background, having an Indian mother and Jamaican father.
Her political presence signals various trends in the US.
Harris will be the country’s first female and Black vice president.