8.05.2010

Can of Worms: Politics and Religion, Guest Post 3

What is a Can of Worms Post?

To Catch Up:
     What's going on this week?
      Guest Post 1 (Leila, leaning Right)
      Guest Post 2 (Kate, leaning Left)

Today's Guest Post is by Michelle at Musings of a Catholic Lady.  She leans to the right, but takes strong issue with both parties, and continues our Can of Worms.  I know I repeat myself, but I am truly honored to have these ladies writing here at my spot, and Michelle is no exception!  Thank-you so much Michelle!


I'm Michelle and I was surprised that Rebecca asked me to guest post on this topic.  I appreciated the offer and decided to try and do it, though I found it very challenging.  Before college, I probably would have aligned pretty well with Democrats.  I took an Economic History/Theory course in which we explored Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Machiavelli and a couple more.  After that course, i was well on my way to being a Free Market-limited government person and therefore, began my journey away from the Democratic Party.  When I married and then had my first baby, and I began to grow in my Catholic Faith, it only solidified for me that the Democratic Party was not where I would ever be unless some big changes occurred within that party.  In the last 10 years, I have evaluated candidates based on how they aligned with the Catholic Faith.  I form my conscience and my political views as a Catholic first, a Wife/Mother/Daughter/Sister Second and an American third.  I feel like that keeps my priorities in line:  1 - God; 2 - Family; all others fall in line behind those two. 

When I started to learn more about the Catholic Faith, I was also curious about how political leanings seemed to sway some people differently regarding Catholicism.  It was interesting to me that the more "left-leaning" Catholics always seemed to say thing like, "Well, people are going to get abortions anyway, it does no good to make it illegal because then they just won't be in a safe place but still get an abortion."  And the "left-leaning" Catholics I knew also would accuse those who were pro-life saying they were only pro-life until the babies were born and then they didn't care about the babies anymore - a statement more on the social justice aspects.  Of course, then the more "right-leaning" Catholics always seemed to say things like, "We ought to make people on Welfare get sterilized or put them on birth control so they won't have any more babies."  Ummmm yeah, THAT'S a real loving statement to those in need...NOT.  

My feelings on politics and being Catholic are somewhat desperate.  I desperately want to be rid of self-professed Catholics who fight tooth-and-nail to keep abortion legal or even the restrictions on abortion loose.  I absolutely hate that my tax dollars go to fund the abomination of abortion.  And I am a person who does not use the word "hate" very often.  And when you read that sentence; "I absolutely hate that my tax dollars go to fund this abomination (abortion)" you are free to read as much vitriol into the word hate as you can imagine.  I am, after all, hating an evil which I have no choice in supporting through paying my taxes.

Yes, I'm intelligent and I know that there are more issues than abortion.  But I'll tell you what:  it all starts with a society's view on life in the most innocent and vulnerable stages.  A society that does not respect the dignity of its most innocent and vulnerable members - those in the womb - will not work to respect the dignity of its disabled, its elderly, its prisoners, its poor, its disadvantaged, etc.  If we, as a society, believe it is OK to abort innocent babies in the womb, then how hypocritical of us to then say children with disabilities need to be respected, or elderly need to be cared for?  We begin to attach a utilitarian concept to life, which is a very dangerous place in which to be.

What also makes my feelings on politics and being Catholic so desperate is because on both sides of the political aisle there are so many problems.  I love Free Market principles, but I understand that it takes time for The Invisible Hand to work and with our society's short attention span, it's not feasible to allow it to work.  Besides our short attention span, we have - as a society - a "somebody FIX IT" complex...and we expect government to fix all our problems.  I dislike intrusive government.  I don't think the federal government does a very good job of carrying out Social Justice.  

I think many left-leaning Catholics believe it is our duty to elect those who will put the government in charge of caring for the poor, the disadvantaged, and feel like paying the taxes is the way it will be done the most efficiently.  Got news, folks...the government is ANYTHING but efficient.  

I think these Catholics are well-meaning...but I also think on some level they are lazy.  Or they're just too busy.  You know, we're just too busy (or lazy?) to take the time to help our brothers and sisters in need, that we pass the responsibility off to a grossly inefficient government and think if we throw enough money at the problem that way, it should go away.  It's a way of shoving it under the bed to deal with on another day.  It's been demonstrated, at least in my sphere of influence, that if people believe they already pay taxes to pay for things like schools, hospitals, welfare, social security (and they do pay their taxes for that), then they are less inclined to lift a finger to actually help in any of those things.  They have, in effect, handed off the problem to government instead of getting their hands dirty and helping others themselves.  

When Jesus taught that when we clothe the naked, visit those in prison, care for the sick...that we do it for Him, somehow I don't think He meant, "just elect people to do it for you and pay your taxes."  (Matthew 25:41-45)

I know from my own personal experience that if I take my time and my money to a Church or to a charity and help with it, I KNOW what my money paid for and I SEE the effects on those who are helped by giving of my time.  I think a lot of people could agree with the fact that they are more likely to feel fulfilled in helping others when they are personally involved.  I also know from my personal experience that I give a lot more in charitable giving the older I get and...if my taxes go up (which they will in 2011 by the way)...if my taxes go up, I won't have as much to give to my Church or the other charities to which we donate.

So, yeah...I'm a desperate political Catholic.

I don't believe EITHER party is completely in line with Catholic Teaching.  As long as I have been paying attention as an adult, formed in my Faith, I have never felt that way and I doubt I ever will.  I understand that changing hearts and minds is the best way to get better officials in office.  That also takes time.  And it takes effort.  And it takes courage.  And it takes many of us willing to lead by example.  I don't believe it means we must compromise on the life issues (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc.).

I think both sides have things that align with Catholic Teachings on Social Justice.  I think the disagreements on Social Justice are not that it needs to be done, but how to go about doing it.  It is a disagreement between the people who believe the government must take it on and fund it vs. the people who believe the government should butt out and we citizens should come together to care for those in need.  

Finally, and unfortunately, the Democratic Party has been in bed with Planned Parenthood for decades and the "pro-life" democrat is no longer someone on which to rely.  We saw that play out with Health Care Legislation and we will, I suspect, continue to see it played out with FOCA-legislation, should our congress make-up not change in November.  This unwavering support for a so-called non-profit organization that makes tons of money in performing abortions each year makes that party absolutely NOT one I can support unless that changes.  

Don't worry, I have similar disdain for pro-choice Republicans...and somewhat more disdain for pro-life Republicans who don't see the inconsistency in supporting embryonic stem cell research or the death penalty while not supporting abortion.  I long for the day a strong Third Party emerges with enough support to drown the other two.  And I pray for that party to be more in line with my beliefs than the two we currently have.  

Until that day, though, I'll continue to cast my vote for the "lesser of two evils".  And probably continue to be desperate.


The Can of Worms continues.  What do you think?

14 comments:

  1. Well said, and I share your "hatred" for our tax-dollars paying for abortions- and your frustrations with the Republican party. Thanks for posting!

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  2. "And the "left-leaning" Catholics I knew also would accuse those who were pro-life saying they were only pro-life until the babies were born and then they didn't care about the babies anymore - a statement more on the social justice aspects."

    Exactly, I truly don't see the point (and hence have a hard time voting for someone) of fighting so hard for the baby to be born but then cutting funding for WIC or VFC (Vaccines for children) so that the child dies at a year of starvation or 3 of measles.

    I do agree that we all have a personal responsibility and as a nurse have volunteered at health clinics giving vaccines and soup kitchens. But also believe making sure that children eat and are vaccinated is too big a challenge to totally be handled community by community.

    Yes big government programs suffer from inefficiencies but as we learned during Spanish/American War, a national defense does work better than each state mustering its own militia.

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  3. Joy, I don't understand why it's better to fight so hard for some "right" to kill innocents.

    Charities do a much more caring job than governments in caring for others and if the government would butt out, they could do an even better job because people would fund THEM instead of grossly inefficient government programs. (I did a term paper in college examining charitable giving levels under different tax levels and when tax rates were cut, charities reported increases in contributions that were through the roof. And - of course - when taxes were raised, it impacted charities severely to the negative.

    I actually think that all three of the statements with which I began my post that I have heard are all three very unloving, inhumane statements.

    One of the biggest future scenarios I see with the government mandated health care and support/funding for abortion is the forced abortion (much like China has) of "undesirables". The government could/might say - "Hey, we just can't afford the health care of a Down's Syndrome baby" and coerce the abortion of the baby. Or the government, like China, could say, "We have too many people, families may only have one child" and then force/coerce the abortion and perhaps sterilization of people against their will. THIS is the danger I see with all these government officials in support of abortion and government control of everything.

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  4. "I don't believe EITHER party is completely in line with Catholic Teaching. As long as I have been paying attention as an adult, formed in my Faith, I have never felt that way and I doubt I ever will."
    Couldn't agree more!

    "I think these Catholics are well-meaning...but I also think on some level they are lazy. Or they're just too busy. You know, we're just too busy (or lazy?) to take the time to help our brothers and sisters in need, that we pass the responsibility off to a grossly inefficient government and think if we throw enough money at the problem that way, it should go away."
    I agree, but I also see it on the other side. There are so many people who want to cut government programs and *do nothing* to help those in need. They may give 2% of their income to the Church and feel quite impressed with how much they do. They have nothing to lose by cutting abortion since they would not personally want an abortion, and everything to gain from not paying for social programs for those in need. So I am equally repulsed by the selfish "conservatives." From little things that I have picked up online I see you as a rare exception in that you seem to be someone who actually cares about following Christ's commands.

    Thanks for this post. While am a bit more "to the left," you did not make me feel defensive at all, and so that is helpful for reaching consensus and actually reconsidering some things.

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  5. "They may give 2% of their income to the Church and feel quite impressed with how much they do"
    You hit a major pet peeve of mine! I surely don't want to be self-righteous again...but I definitely get perturbed by some of the families in our parish. We are a Parish supported Catholic School (the truest meaning of "Parochial" schools) and yet, we have people who CHOOSE to pay tuition because the tithing would be more than that! someone actually told my sister that at a parent meeting. She was just flabbergasted! So, yes, I know there are people out there who are majorly selfish (there's that sin creeping in again!) However, sin will remain always and forever as a temptation in our world...whether the government is in control of things or not. And with all the corrupt governments out there (ours included), our whole world would be in a much better place if we ALL turned our eyes toward and worked our fingers to the bone for God.

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  6. I have come to feel that in the main, politics is useless, period. And I say that as the daughter of a politician. :/ Governments, no matter who heads them, will never bring the Kingdom about, because the Kingdom is separate from human government. I do not believe (as some have stated in other posts) that God is going to condemn us to Hell based on our voting record--because almost all politicians care more about power and re-election than actually changing the world for the better. I didn't used to be so bitter and jaded, but having helped my mother through five campaigns, having gotten familiar with the inner workings of fundraisers and gotten on email list serves, I truly believe that God doesn't *want* anything to do with politics.

    And so these days, I prefer not to get my back up on political issues, but instead to impact my world within my sphere of influence. This is why I blog, and why I teach NFP, and why I write.

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  7. Michelle, I'm not disagreeing with you as much as voicing my frustration that many on the 'right' do not seem to realize that a two month old is almost as vulnerable as a baby unborn.

    I really do appreciate your comments, am just frustrated beyond words that one party seems interested in defending life while the other in helping to providing the food and healthcare needed to stay alive until one can provide for yourself.

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  8. Michelle, thank you for saying this so beautifully. I found myself nodding and grateful that you said all the things that I didn't.

    Joy, no one is implying that we shouldn't help the helpless. That is what the left tries to pin on conservatives, esp. pro-lifers, but it's untrue. I plan on doing a post (someday soon?) to combat the falsehood that pro-lifers don't care about babies or women once they are born. That has not been my experience at all, and I get so frustrated with that line of argument. I think Michelle does a good job at refuting that anyway, in that religious conservatives tend to do more to help people themselves rather than relying on cold, impersonal bureaucracies to do the work for them.

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  9. PS: There certainly is a place for government help, most definitely, but nowhere near the scale and scope that the left has promoted and implemented. And not as much on the federal level, but more locally.

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  10. Thanks Joy. I think you and I share that frustration!

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  11. Michelle,

    Amen sister, amen. "I don't believe EITHER party is completely in line with Catholic Teaching. As long as I have been paying attention as an adult, formed in my Faith, I have never felt that way and I doubt I ever will."

    I couldn't agree with that statement any more strongly, and it's the basic gist of my post tomorrow. :)

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  12. Your most powerful statement: "Yes, I'm intelligent and I know that there are more issues than abortion. But I'll tell you what: it all starts with a society's view on life in the most innocent and vulnerable stages." Exactly.

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  13. Michelle, I must say I agree with much of what you've written - specifically the evils of politics and how much I hate having to pick the lesser of two evils, it is truly so frustrating. (Though I did vote for President Obama feeling is was the better candidate, and still do, it was the first election I felt wasn't a lesser of 2 evils choice, but rather a better of 2 goods).

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  14. Well, I actually must say, Rebecca, that Obama represents such a huge evil, in my opinion, that I am quite sad you feel that way about him. McCain was by no means an optimal candidate. I think what is really, really sad is that most Democrats (Catholic or not) aren't even TRYING to put on the facade of being pro-life anymore. It's almost as though they wag it in the faces of pro-lifers and say, "You can't stop me, so I'm going to do whatever I want" But I suppose it works that way since we have such a morally bereft society.

    I literally get sick to my stomach knowing the things Obama has done to hurt the pro-life cause (as mentioned by others...overturning the Mexico City Policy, ensuring health care law that does not protect unborn passed, and his promise to bring FOCA to fruition). It makes me very sad for the state of our nation.

    I must also give a dissenting viewpoint to Kathleen that our voting record won't matter. I, too, have become jaded on the political process, but that doesn't mean I should give up entirely. We must try to change hearts and minds, as I said, but in the meantime, we've GOT to attempt to put leaders in place who will respect life in all stages, from conception to natural death. I agree with Kathleen that most politicians care about re-election and power, but to give up and allow it to go in the crapper entirely isn't behaving like a Christian in the public sphere. We have a responsibility as citizens to exercise our rights to the fullest extent and protect those who cannot speak for themselves. The Church has consistently taught that we must reflect our faith in the public square. One should not check his/her Catholicism at the door when stepping into the voting booth. And we can hope with all our hearts that the Lord won't hold us accountable for our voting record, but we can't know that and I, for one, was taught that at our Final Judgment, all of our actions will come to account. I guess I'm just not willing to chuck aside my voting record into the "not important" pile.

    We are so fortunate in this country to have the right to participate in the political process. We're fortunate because #1 our parents decided to let us be born (we are SO blessed) and #2 we live in the freest nation in the world and #3 we have the knowledge and guidance of Holy Mother Church. To use our vote to elect officials who will work to ensure other citizens will not have our same good fortune (the unborn are truly the most innocent and voiceless victims) is horrible at worst, misguided at best. To act as though using our good fortune to vote for those who would work tirelessly to promote the evil of abortion will not count for something in the Final Judgment is a bit...well, let's just say, it's not a chance I'm willing to take.

    Again, I hope I haven't been disrespectful. We just disagree on such a major point.

    I definitely think it's a good idea to keep in mind Leila's comment from yesterday that the Church has laid out for Catholics the non-negotiables and if one disagrees with any/all/one of those, s/he is, in effect, disagreeing with the Church. Dissent on a major issue is cause for concern, prayer and continued discernment. I've read up on many things in my Faith Journey...I've never found an instance where I ended up saying, "Yeah...the Church is wrong on that."

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