Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance To My Conscience

I take my Catholic faith very seriously. As a regular churchgoer and active member of my parish, my ears always prick up whenever the subject of politics and religion intersect.
The allegiance of Catholics in the upcoming election is considered important in an era in which moral values are closely tied to public policy. Many political experts consider them a powerful voting bloc, with nearly 70 million baptized members and an estimated 27 percent of the electorate. Nearly 1 million Catholics live in Arizona.

But the various voting guides represent varying viewpoints, including if issues such as abortion and gay marriage should be of higher importance than other items meaningful to Catholics, such as immigration and war.

The article continues to discuss where a person's conscience comes into play when dealing with divisive and explosive issues that have become center stage as the "Religious Right" ascended into power under BushCo rule.

As a Christian, I believe that:
  • bigotry is wrong, therefore you can take your gay-bashing initiatives and shove it
  • war and agression are wrong, therefore you can take your preemptive wars and sabre-rattling and shove them too
  • human rights are my foundation, therefore I am appalled at any efforts to blur the lines of torture, circumvent justice by eliminating habeas corpus, and the operation of secret prisons that are kept in the shadows for nefarious purposes
  • compassion is key, therefore I don't support female-demonizing policies that rob a woman of her dignity by dictating her life's decisions
  • poverty is a social problem, therefore I support the strengthening of programs that educate people, provide a safety net of financial survival and accessible health care to everyone that needs it (which is everyone)
  • the community is ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of all, therefore tax policies should not favor those who have more financial resources
  • respect of the land is a responsibility that we all share, therfore I support environmental laws that protect our air, water and natural habitats from further encroachment by our greedy, developing schemes
There are more things I believe, which are all informed by my conscience but to some Pharisees Catholics, I'm nothing more than a CINO (Catholic In Name Only).
A more liberal guide, published by the Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, says responsible voting is not best decided with a "litmus test" of selected issues. The guide has been criticized by conservative Catholic groups, which say abortion is always the most important public policy issue for Catholic voters.

"We won't ever support the Catholic Alliance guide because it does a disservice to church teaching," said Kelly Copeland, 45, a Tucson business owner and part of a local group called Catholics United for the Faith. "If a candidate is pro-choice, that is an area that would be non-negotiable. If you are going to follow church teaching, you are not going to vote for Gov. Janet Napolitano because of her stance on abortion."
Perhaps it's an incurable, intrinsic reaction for me, but anytime I see the words "non-negotiable", I immediately turn into a rebel. Right-wing Catholic groups are so convinced of their morality yet the truth is, the Church is ultimately ambiguous in its positions as they directly translate to political platforms.

The Beatitudes, however, are unambiguous
  • Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are the meek: for they shall posses the land.
  • Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.
  • Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
  • Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If the polls are to be believed, the "Catholic Vote" is in swing territory at the moment. Methinks a bunch of war apologists are finally starting to listen to their conscience again. It's a good thing, because a suave devil has had their ear for far too long.

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