During the 2004 U.S. presidential election, a group of Catholic bishops claimed that voting for John Kerry would be a sin. They cited his pro-choice stance on abortion in particular, along with his position on stem cell research.
The bishops’ stance was nothing more than voter intimidation and a thinly veiled foray into politics. The repercussions for both Americans and religion are, at the very least, troubling.
Start with the sheer arrogance. How is it that these particular bishops knew the mind of God when numerous other bishops felt these are matters of individual conscience (as Kerry stated his own view)? Why did this issue supposedly take precedence over all others, including the death penalty, war, and poverty?
It also took fantastic nerve to throw stones on top of the child sexual abuse scandal and the church’s cover up and enabling of the abusers. Hardly a strong position for children’s rights.
And what of the Bush Administration? Is it not a sin to lie to bring a nation to war, subsequently killing thousands of Americans and Iraqis, including innocent civilians?
Shouldn’t good Christians worry about clear moral problems, such as wrongfully executed citizens? Or that America is one of only three countries that executes children (the others are Iran and Pakistan)?
The bishops are trying to prevent thinking. No one is FOR abortion, only whether choice should be legislated. And the bishops don’t have a very good record obeying the law anyway. If the sanctity of life is truly important to them, how about saving newborns in China drowned because they’re female? How about saving thousands of innocent people from ethnic slaughter in Rwanda and the Sudan? How about saving millions of African children who die each year from diarrhea? Unfortunately, the key issue seems to be winning, ego, not the sanctity of life. Look at the rhetoric about Iraq--the Bush administration doesn't talk about peace or success, but winning and losing.
That Republicans embraced such end runs around thinking is also telling. The Republican National Convention stressed that “A vote for Bush is a vote for God,” perhaps the most sickening and baldly disingenuous statement to come from politics. Thankfully voters had enough and sent Republicans the message they deserved, that Americans think for themselves, and showed such outrageous Republicans the door. Maybe they should do the same for a few clergy.
If not, Americans won’t have to fear Islamic Fundamentalists--Christian Fundamentalists seem ready to do the job for them. After Osama bin Laden responded to the 9/11 attacks with “Not me, but thank Allah,” the Rev. Jerry Falwell added “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
Matthew 25:31-46 explains that when the Son of Man comes in His glory, He will separate the sheep (those destined for heaven) from the goats, based on how each responded when the Lord was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, or in prison. They will ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, or in prison?” The Lord will reply, “Whenever you did this to (for) the least of my brothers, you did it to (for) me.”
Quite a few bishops may be in the goat line.