Within moments of former Vice President Joe Biden announcing Kamala Harris as his pick for a running mate in this November's election, a wave of right-wing opinions about both Biden and Harris flooded social media.
But one of those opinions in particular was, aside from presumptuous, just plainly nonsensical: Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island falsely claimed Biden isn't Catholic, and the internet put him firmly in his place.
Tobin made his claim in a tweet yesterday shortly after Biden's announcement.
Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.— Bishop Thomas Tobin (@Bishop Thomas Tobin) 1597182392.0
The tweet read:
"Biden-Harris. First time in awhile [sic] that the Democratic ticket hasn't had a Catholic on it. Sad."
Aside from the fact that Biden is a lifelong practicing Catholic who regularly attends mass, a fact he's been open about for decades, the Catholic religion dictates that anyone baptized in the Church--as Biden was--is forever a Catholic, unless she or he is excommunicated.
That's aside from the fact that Biden was also on the Democratic ticket in 2008 and 2012, which would make it impossible for this to be the first time the ticket has been supposedly Catholic-free by Tobin's definition.
Tobin's dismissal of Biden's faith is perhaps unsurprising, given Tobin's history of being an extremely far-right Catholic leader and leveraging the Church against those with whom he disagrees politically. In 2017, he denied communion for Representative Patrick Kennedy because of his pro-choice views, and has forbidden Catholics from attending gay pride events, which he says are harmful for children.
Tobin has also controversially denied responsibility for the sexual abuse of children by priests he oversaw as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh during the 1990s—one of several diocese that were the focus of a 2018 Grand Jury inquiry into clergy sex abuse in the state of Pennsylvania.
On Twitter, angry Catholics and non-Catholics alike didn't hold back, putting Tobin firmly in place.
@ThomasJTobin1 In this country, we don't use religion as a test/barrier to public office. Perhaps you were unaware of how democracy works?— Weaver95 (@Weaver95) 1597182568.0
@ThomasJTobin1 So weird because we don’t have one leading the diocese either.— KM (@KM) 1597183680.0
@ThomasJTobin1 Leaving aside his sincerity, which you obviously doubt, Biden is a baptized Catholic. Catholic bapti… https://t.co/yKwUrettC0— Tim Spalding (@Tim Spalding) 1597184067.0
@ThomasJTobin1 You allowed children to be abused for years under you watch. You’re an embarrassment to Catholicism… https://t.co/EDRjxMYeVt— Matt McDermott (@Matt McDermott) 1597183998.0
@ThomasJTobin1 Is that what you said when you were looking the other way at the Pittsburgh Diocese?— adam from philly (@adam from philly) 1597184010.0
@ThomasJTobin1 I don't think it becoming of a Bishop of the Catholic Church to even jest at such a thing as cancell… https://t.co/CYY3Hb4rBz— MC Hendrick (@MC Hendrick) 1597184451.0
@ThomasJTobin1 You've got some nerve. https://t.co/2XT238tkBH— Cinloou 🇨🇦 (@Cinloou 🇨🇦) 1597184820.0
@ThomasJTobin1 My dad left the church and never regretted it. You're a good example of why.— The Bearded Crank (@The Bearded Crank) 1597184914.0
If Joe Biden is elected in November, he will be only the second Catholic President in United States history, following President John F. Kennedy, who was elected in 1960.