Vote Life!

Unless you’ve been on the moon, you know it’s election season.  Before November, we’ll be courted and commercialed by every candidate on the national, state, and local level.  We’ll listen to their message and make our decision.  As we walk into that booth in November, we need to have done our research and homework.  For Catholics, there are some issues on which we can’t compromise.  Look.  I’m not a priest or a bishop.  I’m just a lay person who loves my country and my faith.  I’m not writing this to tell you who to vote for.  I’m just sharing how my faith in Christ informs my voting choices.  I want to use my vote to give honor to the values of my country and to give glory to the God I worship.  Anyone who tells you that faith and politics don’t mix is a liar.  If your faith values aren’t reflected in your voting choices you aren’t helping to build the kingdom of God.  Just my opinion.  Voting is how we build our civic community.  And I want my vote in that process to be one that upholds the values of my faith. 
To begin with, forget political parties.  If you want your vote to reflect your faith, you can’t assume that just because someone is a Republican, that they’re automatically going to support a pro-life agenda.  And you can’t assume every Democrat wants to fund abortion.  This is especially true at the state and local levels.  This means you really have to do your homework.  Visit the candidate’s website and if you can’t get your questions or concerns answered there, send them an email or call their local office.  Believe me, it’s worth the effort to ask questions before you’re standing in that voting booth.  And just because a candidate is Catholic or evangelical doesn’t mean they share your values, either.  Look at their voting records, read their position statements and find out what they stand for.
The issue of life is at the heart of Catholic voting choices.  There are 5 particular activities which the Church considers “non-negotiable.”  That is to say, we can’t in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports any or all of them.  These are abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual “marriage.”  Abortion is the willful killing of an innocent child in the womb.  Candidates who support abortion by funding it or by funding organizations which support abortion must be defeated.  If the candidate will be in the position to appoint judges at the state or federal level, will they use their power to appoint judges who will support life?  Euthanasia or “mercy-killing” is the practice of taking action to end a life before the person’s natural death.  Catholics support hospice care and palliative care that eases pain and suffering.  But we can’t support actions that purposefully hasten death such as the removal of devices which provide a person with nutrition or hydration or the use of powerful medications which cause their death.  Embryonic stem cell research uses fertilized human eggs.  These are babies.  Any use of human embryos in scientific research is the murder of human life.  Since adult stem cell research is so much more promising in terms of science and medicine, there’s no place for embryonic cell use in our country.  Human cloning is any attempt to create a human life by using the same cell cloning techniques which scientists have use to clone or twin sheep, dogs and other animals.  Lastly, the issue of homosexual “marriage” is, for Catholics, non-negotiable.  Marriage is a sacramental covenant between one man and one woman.  Marriage is at the heart of family life in which new life is given to us by God. 
So, it’s as simple and as complicated as those five issues.  Beyond these five lie the full array of all the other social, economic and political concerns of our time.  But if we lose on these issues, I believe we’re truly lost as a country and as a culture.  If we fail to recognize and value the gift of life, I’m afraid nothing else really matters much.  Perhaps we can work together to rebuild our economy.  Someday the housing market may rebound.  In a few years maybe everyone who wants to work may have a good job.  Maybe our foreign policy will one day put an end to our terrorist enemies.  But if we fail to support the right to life and fail to protect and defend life and family, America will be like a beautiful apple which is lovely to look at, but which is rotten at its core.  At least that’s what I believe and it’s how my Catholic faith leads me to decide who gets my vote.  God bless America.
“The Gospel of life must be proclaimed and human life defended in all places and times.”
                                        –Blessed Pope John Paul II to U.S. Catholics, 1998


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