Over the past couple of years I have experienced growing frustration with the lack of Catholic influence in the political arena. I am told our vote has a tremendous effect on the outcome of presidential elections. If this is the case then why is abortion on demand still legal, why can’t we have vouchers or tax credits to home school or to use at schools outside the public system? Why are Christian values of life and family, peace and common decency attacked so often in public? It’s getting to the point where it is illegal to express our faith based, moral convictions publicly. We are not even supposed to pray publicly in Jesus’ name any more. Most importantly where are the politicians who will lead the way in supporting what we hold dear? Why must we vote for the lesser of two evils?
One cause of the breach between Catholic aspirations and what actually transpires is the failure of our Church here in America to provide clear and strong leadership, to teach the faith and exhort us to exercise it as Catholic citizens. Have you ever heard a homily encouraging you to vote for politicians who support moral positions? That it is your duty? The ‘Lay Faithful’s’ duty is to take our faith into our communities, work places and even into politics. That’s right I said politics. Our religion is not a private matter! Atheists, gay marriage proponents and abortion advocates do not have the moral high ground. We have just as much right to advocate for what we believe in as they do. We have just as much right to speak out and support legislation which reflects our deepest beliefs and values as they do. Yet we allow them to silence us, our Church, and many of our Cardinals, Bishops and Priests as well. How do they do that? There are probably many ways but let me reflect on one.
There is an attitude or an idea that I think most of us are familiar with: the so-called separation of Church and State. I hear it used all the time and I’m sick of it. The erroneous understanding of our Constitution and the shameless perpetuation of this lie have convinced many if not most Americans that religion is supposed to be a private matter. That religious convictions and beliefs are not supposed to inform us as we legislate the laws of our country. NONSENSE! This understanding of the Constitution is contrary to historical usage and just plain stupid.
First the so called separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. To the contrary, it is based on a quote of Thomas Jefferson to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. He wrote that there was a, "wall of separation between the church and the state." Why did he say this? He told them this because they were afraid. Of what, you ask? They were afraid that the government would infringe on their freedom to worship. The separation or wall that Jefferson wrote about was to let them know that the Constitution had been written to protect Religion from the State. Let me say that again because it sounds so good: to protect Religion from the State.
See http://www.allabouthistory.org/separation-of-church-and-state.htm for more.
But let me add what the Constitution does say.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Both the free exercise clause and the establishment clause place restrictions on the government concerning laws they pass or interfering with religion. No restrictions are placed on religions except perhaps that a religious denomination cannot become the state religion.”
Is this amazing? Our Constitution restricts government! Next time you here separation of church and state use the above quote.
Now lets get down to business. Mr. Joe Healy, an engineer, did some amazing homework using the document, Faithful Citizenship, on his blog defend life. He took the criteria listed in Faithful Citizenship, assigned points to "intrinsically evil" positions and other important issues. Higher points were given for intrinsically evil issues and lesser points for other issues. He then looked at the voting records or stated positions of all the presidential candidates, including Allan Keyes, and added up the points to see which candidates come closest to reflecting a truly Catholic position on these very important issues. Remember our faith is supposed to inform not just what we believe but how we act. So what were the results?
1. Ron Paul (R): 99 points
2. Alan Keyes (R): 70 (not on the ballot in all states)
3. Mike Huckabee (R): 69
4. Duncan Hunter (R): 50
5. Tom Tancredo (R): 48
6. John McCain (R): 36
7. Chris Dodd (D): 25
8. Dennis Kucinich (D): 22
9. Mitt Romney (R): 10
10. Joe Biden (D): 5
11. Fred Thompson (R): 4
12. Hillary Clinton (D): (-11)
13. John Edwards (D): (-13)
14. Bill Richardson (D): (-15)
15. Barack Obama (D): (-15)
16. Rudy Giuliani (R): (-28)
The following quote from Mr. Healy will help to qualify these results.
“My analysis is not perfect, but I think it gives a good relative scale of all of the candidates against important Catholic social issues.”
I’m guessing these results are a surprise to many. What I am hoping is that you will take this very seriously. Fr. Frank Pavone praised the work of the Bishops in giving us Faithful Citizenship. Although it may not be as clear and strong in pointing the way as some might like. Mr. Healy’s work has connected the dots in an explicit and powerful way.
Finally do not be afraid to be 100% Catholic in the public arena. We aren’t second class citizens. We all know there are serious problems in our country, morally and economically. We also know that our current politicians are doing nothing to effect real change. Why do we keep voting the same politicians back into office? Don’t you think that bringing our faith back into public life will have an overwhelmingly positive effect on our country? I do. Don’t be embarrassed by your faith. Vote and vote for the candidate that your conscience informed by your faith will best lead this country. Hint they’re not the front runners. Primaries are coming up soon make your vote count. In closing I would like to share a prayer by the Protestant minister Derek Prince, “Lord give us leaders such that it will be for Your glory to give us victory through them.”
God Bless America