Thinking Aloud: Preaching Politics

At church this Sunday, the priest used his homily to talk about voting pro-life. I’m not comfortable when politicking comes from the pulpit, but it happens regularly (and not just every four years). I’m not really crazy about singing “God Bless America” in church, but that happens regularly too. Heck, not two weeks ago, there was a voter registration drive outside the church I attended!

I’m not sure the priest would’ve summed up his homily the way I just did, and I can’t give you a run down of every thing he said, because I was in a very crowded cry room that was, as per advertised, very loud with teh cries.

But what I gleaned from what I did manage to hear was this: Voting pro-life (i.e. against abortion and euthanasia) was the single most important thing that you should do as a Catholic.

The priest did not specifically mention any candidate by name, nor did he explicitly endorse any candidate (which is something that is apparently happening in some Protestant churches this Sunday).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a single-issue voter, hence I don’t vote on abortion. If you were to put my vote in one of two piles (pro-choice or pro-life), it would end up in the pro-choice pile. And I’m resigned to that, if not wholly comfortable with it.

I think it’s easy for the Catholic church to take a pro-life stance that is consistent. The church has a variety of programs and initiatives in place that (in my opinion) make it a very pro-life organization. The church encourages and participates in social services, social justice, ministry to the poor, and stands against war, the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion.

On the other hand, it’s hard for me to take the GOP seriously on the pro-life/family values platform they want to put forth. The Romney/Ryan budget is not, in my view, very friendly to anyone who is not rich, white, and/or male. Which, if those are your economic issues, that’s cool. Or if you do vote on abortion, gay marriage, or other social issues that are based on your religion, well have at it. The GOP may be more to your liking.

My economic interests include more than just me. I think the Democrat’s platform is more inclusive, and does more to help lift people up.

Additionally, most of the hatred that I see spewed regarding social issues seems to come from the right. I’m not saying that everyone who is conservative is hateful, and I don’t hate conservatives or Republicans. But, when the language turns negative — hateful, misogynist, racist, and so on — I’ve seen that more from the right than from liberals or Democrats. (If I’m off-base here, you can correct me.)

As a Catholic, I believe that God is love. I believe that our purpose here is to love one another — from the richest to the poorest, to a man, to a woman, to a child. Even if you don’t agree with me, I should show you love.

That’s what Jesus would do. That’s the answer to the question. Love one another.

I’ve gotten far afield here, but I think the message the priest was preaching was simplistic. My conscience leads me to vote like Catholics for Obama. If that’s not the type of pro-life Catholic my priest wants me to be, then I guess I’m doing it wrong. But it doesn’t feel like it to me.

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13 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud: Preaching Politics

  1. You boiled it down nicely into many fewer words than I needed. But I think “simplistic” was accurate. Life, and certainly this election, is much more complex. Issues of war, poverty, economic justice, empowerment, and civil rights cover a multitude of issues, and neither party holds sole control of the moral high ground. Telling a congregation to base their vote on one issue is choosing to deny and devalue the serious problems that many people are experiencing in society.

  2. pro-choice/pro-life are not issues of the executive branch of government, but the legal branch ie courts. How long were the 2 Bushs, Nixon, and Regan president, and what did they change concerning those 2 issues? NOTHING!. Because the president cannot change the laws of the country. They blow the smoke in your eyes hoping to get your vote on the one issue because they have a very limited ideas on the other issues that need addressed. I am pro-life, but I have seen that “trickle down economics” do not favor the working class. The Bush tax cuts, made when we had a large surplus, have been in effect for 10 years now, how has the economy done?

  3. The most important thing you can do is to be true to what YOU believe, not a laundry list of priorities from some other group, religious or not. Life is more complicated than any one issue.

  4. As a gal who once attempted to become a Catholic and ultimately had to admit I’m a Unitarian, I agree that your church shows a certain consistency on the pro-life issue. I do admire them for that. But asking people to be single-issue voters, IMO, is just inviting them to be manipulated by spin doctors who don’t want us to look past the smoke and mirrors and see what they’re REALLY up to.

  5. well said RPM! I would really like the GOP to address how they would help the more than 20% of children living below the poverty line in this country! and I’m REALLY tired of our republican governor (via the DPW) cutting and cutting services for children with disabilities (including autism) and their families. sorry, had to throw in my own little rant! I think deciding on whether to have an abortion is as private and difficult a decision as deciding what you believe about God and religion. In other words, the government should have no say in either decision.

  6. I could thank each of you individually, but I would say the same thing in each reply. Thanks to all of you. Dad and Aidenmama, you each make very good points that I didn’t consider in my original post. Bluz, TexasL, and ‘Bagger, I appreciate the support about going my own way instead of just toeing the line.

    Part of me wants to print this and distribute it at churches, or maybe just a little card that says http://www.catholicdemocrats.org. I want people to think about why they are voting and for whom. And I want people to VOTE. It’s a shame — a crying shame — that the voting percentages in this country are so pathetically low. It should be 100%. But that is another post for another day (maybe).

  7. Good for you. I recently heard the story on NPR about bishops who said that Catholics who support same-sex marriage shouldn’t take communion (http://www.npr.org/2012/09/27/161909566/catholic-bishops-ramp-up-same-sex-marriage-fight). I seem to recall some similar comments being said about pro-choice stands as well. I get fearful of any organization that asks its followers to accept everything without question. Additionally, as you point out, even if you agree with the doctrine you need to prioritize the issues.

    You are an intelligent person who is clearly taking facts and issues into consideration. I would admire that even if your decision wasn’t leading you to vote the same way that I do. I worry when people make such a big decision as who to vote for based on one hot button issue, yet so many people will. For preachers to encourage this shallow decision making is nothing more than extortion.

    • Oooph. I’ll have to look into that NPR story. I don’t understand when the church hierarchy decided to turn into the thought police. I have homosexual friends and family members whom I love very much, and I want the best for them and for them to be happy. If feeling that they should have the right to get legally hitched and receive protections and protections and benefits of the state is now a MORTAL SIN, then the church and I are going to have problems. I remember during the 2004 election when there was grumbling that Kerry shouldn’t be able to receive communication, but I don’t know that he was actually denied.

      As to voting, and for whom: I will give anyone who can list clear factual reasons as to why they are picking this or that candidate credit for at least having an opinion that can be expressed without derision or hate. If someone is going to vote for Romney/Ryan because he/she is pro-life, have at it. If they are going to vote for RR because Obama is a socialist Muslim who is destroying ‘Merica, etc. etc.,… well, you know my feelings on that. I can’t even engage with those people anymore.

  8. I thank you for how this is worded, because I feel exactly the same, but have had a hard time articulating it. It’s unfortunate that so much emphasis is placed on the religious/personal issues and not on the economics of how to accomplish things. I wish they spent more time telling me how and less time trying distract me with things like gay marriage, abortion and guns. I think people forget how important Congress is and just assumes that the president is a unilateral decision maker. For that reason I would rather an actual plan than an ” I like this, I like that”. Thanks for such a thought provoking piece.

  9. I feel like you pulled this post from my brain. Working for the church, I see so much of this. There are actually many priests I know who would 100% agree with you, but can’t come out and say it because there’s this overbearing sense of pro-life is the only thing you can vote on environment. And let’s face it, no matter who gets in, that ruling isn’t changing, it’s just an item to get people to the polls. Great post!

    • I think this one-track mindedness (the pro-life track) is hurting the practice of women religious as well, as we can see in the debate between the Vatican and the LWRC (which I can’t remember what that stands for right now). Most nuns are ministering to the very poor, and giving them lectures about NOT using birth control is not going to help them minister. I am sure that most nuns are anti-abortion (a small minority may be pro-choice), but the population they are trying to help needs food, needs shelter, needs clothing — and they probably need those things for the children they have. It’s non-sensical for the Vatican to try to impose talking points on people tending to the poor, IMO.

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