Lately, at Mass, at least some of our bishops and priests have told us to go home, pray and form our conscience, then vote accordingly this November. That’s fine as far as it goes. The problem, as some of the concerned laity see it, is that it does not go far enough. In fact, the clergy simply have not been as direct in their messages regarding voting as people would like to see. There is too much waffling and obfuscation from the ambo. There’s a sense that many Catholics are not being made aware of the gravity of the situation we’re facing this election cycle.
The people in the pews have not been hearing a consistent message making the point that we face some NON-NEGOTIABLE issues here, including:
- The dignity of life and right to life from conception to natural death
- Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning
- Recognition of marriage and the family as a union between one man and one woman
To the official list of non-negotiables, I would add religious liberty as well.
- The dignity of life and protection of life means NO abortion, and NO euthanasia–both are considered grave moral evils. To support someone who is pushing them is itself a grave, moral evil. The Democrats’ platform supports abortion. Their candidate for the presidency said, during a televised interview, that unborn persons have no rights.
- Marriage is an institution from God for the union of one man and one woman–to promote otherwise is also morally incorrect. Which party is pushing a redefinition of marriage in a way that asks for “tolerance” from Christians but won’t tolerate Christian bakers, photographers, etc. who don’t want to partake in these affairs because of their religious beliefs? Which Vice Presidential candidate believes that the Church’s teaching on this is wrong and will change with the times?
- Religious liberty is at stake not only in undeveloped or middle Eastern countries but right here in the United States of America. Which presidential candidate has stated that Christians need to get with the times and change their beliefs to those of the secular world–and which party has attempted to change the Catholic Church from within to meet its ideology? Who has been behind the HHS mandate and its encroachment on Catholic institutions such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and Catholic hospital systems? Will diminishing Catholic health care services help the down and out of this country?
As a notable Catholic television personality is fond of saying, immigration reform, welfare reform, health care, unemployment, etc. are all important issues, but if you’re dead, they don’t really matter. Isn’t that really the bottom line here?
The Supreme Court
This election is not only about the presidency. It also concerns who will be appointed to take Justice Scalia’s position and to replace a couple of 80-somethings who still sit on the bench. The Supreme Court has become an activist arm of the government, pushing the secular agenda. The replacements for these lifetime positions will change this country forever.
Some well-meaning Christians have said that they can’t, in good conscience, support either candidate for president because of the immorality and flaws of the candidates. I get that—totally. No sincere Christian can honestly say that either candidate represents his or her moral beliefs. People hold some very strong, negative opinions about either or both of the two candidates. An acquaintance told me just the other day that, in spite of the compelling arguments about religious liberty, a culture of life, the Supreme Court, and the Church’s teachings, etc., Trump is not qualified to lead this country. At the same time, others feel pretty much the same way about Clinton. They both stink.
I was shocked recently to read a young columnist’s opinion something along the lines of how “freeing” it is to know that one can simply sidestep voting in this year’s election or vote for a third-party candidate. Really? With all that’s at stake, it is “liberating” to just walk away from it all? Actually, as others have more eloquently stated than I, not voting or voting for other than a mainline party is pretty much the same as casting a vote for the person you’d least like to see win. With so much at risk here, can we continue to go along with electoral business as usual? Venerable Fulton Sheen said it well: “The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”
It’s a Fine Mess
To borrow a line from the old Laurel and Hardy films, “it’s a fine mess we’ve gotten into.” A fine mess indeed—BUT—simply opting out of our responsibility as Christian voters by throwing away our vote this year is NOT a viable option. That is, unless one is are eagerly looking forward to the prospects of a full-blown culture of death and all-out religious persecution.
There is a lot of uncertainty about this year’s election outcomes, but there is some certainty of how the Johnson Amendment can be used against churches if it is believed that the churches are engaging in partisan politics. That alone, not to mention offertory worries, may be why so many clergy are taking a low profile approach to all of this. That being said, however, it is encouraging to see that the Colorado bishops just recently released this video, which goes a long way toward saying what needs to be said for their flocks. As well, I don’t have a problem saying these things—unlike the priests, bishops and cardinals, I don’t have a tax-exempt status to lose and I already pay too much in taxes.
God bless us all and God bless America. Pray for our country.