Catholic Answers is a Catholic advocacy group based in El Cajon, California. It purports to be the largest lay-run apostolate of Catholic apologetics and evangelization in the United States. It publishes Catholic Answers Magazine, a bimonthly magazine focusing on Catholic outreach, religious formation and apologetics, as well as the website catholic.com. It also produces Catholic Answers Live, a radio show answering callers' questions on a variety of topics related to the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church. Catholic Answers Live is syndicated on the EWTN radio network.
Catholic Answers operates with the permission of the Diocese of San Diego. It is listed in the current edition of The Official Catholic Directory, the authoritative listing of U.S. Catholic organizations, priests, and bishops.
Catholic Answers was founded in 1979 by Karl Keating in response to a fundamentalist Protestant church in San Diego that was distributing anti-Catholic propaganda in the form of tracts placed on the cars of Catholics attending Mass. He first started by writing a modest tract titled "Catholic Answers" to counter the arguments he saw in the anti-Catholic tract. He distributed it on the windshields of the cars in the fundamentalist Protestant church's parking lot. Due to the feedback he received from that tract, he published 24 more tracts. In 1988 he quit his law practice and turned Catholic Answers into a full-time apostolate, with an office and full-time staff.
The Catholic.com website receives approximately 471,000 visitors per month in an October 2012 estimate.
Apologists currently working for Catholic Answers include Director of Apologetics Tim Staples; Senior Apologist Jimmy Akin; Catholic Answers Live radio host Cy Kellett; and staff apologists Michelle Arnold, Karlo Broussard, Trent Horn, and Peggy Frye.
Before the 2004 US presidential election, Catholic Answers published the Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics. It was produced both in pamphlet form and as an insert to the newspaper USA Today. This publication promoted five "non-negotiable" issues that were also major political questions in the election cycle. The five "non-negotiable" issues explained and discussed were abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same-sex marriage and human cloning. The term "non-negotiable" is used by Catholic Answers to describe positions that are "intrinsically evil and must never be promoted by law." Catholic Answers maintains that there are many more "non-negotiable" issues but these were "selected because they involve principles that never admit of exceptions and because they are currently being debated in U.S. politics."
While "The Voters Guide for Serious Catholics" made no endorsements of any candidate or political party, the organization came under strong attack by liberal organizations and Democratic Party candidates as a partisan and right-wing publication. In 2004 complaints were filed by Catholics for a Free Choice with the IRS claiming that it was in "blatant violation of its charitable status" in an attempt to revoke Catholic Answers' tax exempt status.
An IRS investigation resulted in no action against Catholic Answers; the IRS ruled that the Voters Guide for Serious Catholics could be safely distributed by religious organizations because it did not qualify as political intervention.
The VGSC is not an official publication of the Catholic Church and was not authorized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The authorized voters guide, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" was approved by the full body of bishops at its November 2007 General Meeting and was authorized for publication by Msgr. Ronny E. Jenkins, JCD. In it, the Bishops encourage Catholics to seek authorized voter guides rather than the VGSC: