Controversy Over VA. Parade Creates Political and Religious Analysis

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Governor Terry McAuliffe (FILE) Governor Terry McAuliffe (FILE)
RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - A controversy over an upcoming Saint Patrick's Day parade has pushed politics and religion into the spotlight.

Governor Terry McAuliffe was invited to be the grand marshal at Norfolk's upcoming parade, but now some Catholic organizations are backing out because they don't agree with some of the governor's stances.

McAuliffe is facing criticism from some fellow Catholics over issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.

Barbara Perry, Director of Presidential Studies at the University of Virginia's at Miller Center, says working with the party base and religious groups can be a tough balancing act for politicians.

"I think now it's more difficult for politicians, because there is such an active religious component to our politics both in the electorate and how religious groups view public policy issues," she said.

Despite being Catholic, Gov. McAuliffe has been a proponent of rights for same-sex couples and for women when it comes to abortion. Some analysts at the UVA Center for Politics point out that recent polls show more Catholics sharing the same opinion on these issues as McAuliffe.

“There's no question that there is an obvious divide between kind of what the church leadership says and what kind of your average Catholic thinks," said Geoffrey Skelley, Political Analyst at the UVA Center for Politics.

In response to the issues raised in light of the parade, the governor's office and the Democratic Party of Virginia say they uphold the separation of church and state.

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