I am certain that as many Republican politicians gather around their Thanksgiving table they will offer thanks for the recent elections. Of course, they should first bow their heads and humbly offer their public service for the Glory of God. Their triumphs are not theirs alone. I also hope they acknowledge their indebtedness to the men and women of faith who supported them in their victory.
Remember us after the ballots are counted
For the first time in decades, the majority of self-identified Catholics voted for Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for president. President-elect Trump garnered 80% of the Evangelical Christian vote. These votes were offered with the expectation that President Trump and other elected leaders will now work together to guarantee that all people of any faith are protected in their free exercise of religion.
Too often Republicans have taken the votes of Christian men and women as a given. After all, how could a faithful Catholic pull the lever for a Democrat who is uncompromising in his or her support of abortion, contraception, the transgender ideology, or same-sex marriage? They are right. However, I am tired of being expected to hold my nose and vote for a substandard candidate while none of the issues that really matter to me are addressed after the election. I suspect I am not alone. Therefore, now that the Republicans controls Congress, the Presidency, state legislatures, and governorships, it is time for them to address the key issues that affect the people who put them in office.
Recognize the sanctity of all human life
First of all, there are social issues like abortion, marriage, and family. Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which redefined marriage to include same-sex unions, are judicial decisions. They cannot be repealed by legislation. However, legislation can be passed that addresses the results of these landmark cases.
For example, current U.S. law allows for elective abortion at any point during pregnancy for any reason. We join the likes of China and North Korea as part of the seven countries that allow abortion after twenty weeks. While every abortion takes the life of an unborn child and is intrinsically evil and immoral, a good first step would be to limit abortions after twenty weeks as proposed in the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. We should ban abortions that are done for sex-selection. We should defund Planned Parenthood. The Mexico City policy that prohibits funding of abortion by NGOs who receive federal money should be codified in law instead of left to the whims of each president.
Support religious liberty
Religious liberty in America is threatened now as it has never been threatened before in our nation’s history. Martin Castro, the chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, claims that “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.” The Obama administration has consistently used the phrase, “freedom of worship”, instead of the wording of the Constitution, “free exercise of religion”. Hillary Clinton continued this phrasing in her recent concession speech. There is a significant difference between the two. One allows the Americans to have whatever rituals they like in private. The other, as is intended by the Founding Fathers, allows for all Americans to live out every aspect of their lives, public and private, in accordance with their religious principles.
The task of our newly elected leaders is to make clear that religious liberty is not restricted to the ceremonies conducted in houses of worship. We need conscience protection. No health care worker should be coerced into participating in any medical procedure that violates his religious beliefs. No business should be forced to fund elective medical procedures or pharmaceuticals that violate their religious principles. No florist, baker, photographer, or any other business person should be expected to participate in activities that are offensive to his moral principles.
Respect parental rights
Parents should be respected as the primary educators of their children. Public schools must be places of education, not indoctrination. Parents, not educational bureaucracies, should offer the education on family structures and sexual morality. Parents should always be free to protect their children and opt out of programs that are offensive to their principles. The control of curriculum content needs to return to the local school boards who are accountable to the local voters.
Hillary Clinton made famous the mantra, “It takes a village to raise a child.” However, it was her intent that the village would be the state and this village would be imposed on all parents. The new administration must reaffirm that parents, not the state, choose the village to help them raise their children. Parents must not be excluded from critical decisions about their children’s well-being. Parental consent for abortion, contraception, and gender reassignment therapies should be the norm, not the exception.
Failure to act has consequences
These are certainly not the only priorities of either the federal, state, or local governments. They must also deal with a whole host of issues including immigration, health care, economic growth, housing, terrorism, and crime. But, the initiatives I have outlined above are the issues that drove religious voters to the polls. The Republicans have no more excuses. Their degree of control at all levels of government is unprecedented. Failure to act will send a clear message that their commitment to safeguarding our religious principles lasts only as long as our vote is in play.
I have never seen more people choose to vote for a third party candidate out of religious convictions than I did this election cycle. This should serve as a warning to the winners of the current elections. Failure to act as promised on the concerns of religious voters will drive them elsewhere. Do not take my vote for granted!