Seven things to think about before you vote next week.
Next Tuesday, November 7, 2017, is election day across America. Because of our places along the spectrum of American voters, Catholics again have a pivotal role to play in these elections. How should we vote?
Catholics should remember what's really at stake over the next four years.
Remember FOCA cards? Catholic officialdom greeted President Obama’s 2009 inauguration by printing cards to be distributed in every pew across the country, warning Mass goers against a purported Obama intention to pass the radically pro-choice Freedom of Choice Act. (In fact President Obama never sought to initiate such legislation and it never progressed on Capitol Hill.)
The idea of the church putting cards in our pews is an interesting one to revisit as Trump assumes the presidency and the GOP has control of both houses of Congress. What might these Trump cards warn about?
It is long past time for the USCCB to speak out against the evil of today’s racism.
It is long past time for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to speak out against the evil of today’s racism. The “alt-right” white nationalist racism that surged alongside the political campaigns of 2016 is an evil that the church in America cannot ignore.
When market trends are allowed to shape our values, what is good becomes viewed not as something sacred; it’s something that can change, like fashion.
The uniform of college students changes every few years. When I first began my teaching it was bell-bottoms, then dancers’ leg warmers, Uggs, and skinny jeans. Now it’s leggings, colorful rubber boots, and yoga pants. For the guys, I remember the first baseball caps in the classrooms, then it was backwards baseball caps, sideways baseball caps, and now baseball caps with painfully flat brims and a sticker. How do these changes happen?
When faith is harnessed to a political ideology, it withers. And something truly terrifying can occur; believers can confuse the ideology with faith itself.
Loosely orbiting the journal First Things, since the late 1980s a handful of Catholic intellectuals have systematically promoted what they believed to be an inherent compatibility—if indeed not actual fusion—between American-style neoconservatism and Catholicism. Sometimes called theocons, the first generation of the movement included Father Richard Neuhaus, George Weigel, and Michael Novak, who sided with the Reagan administration to oppose the US bishops’ 1986 letter on the economy.
Religious liberty is an increasingly fragile thing. Trampling it dishonors all those who gave so much in defense of the principles on which the nation stands.
Last week I described the utter assault on religious liberty under ISIS occurring in Syria and Iraq. At the same time that I wrote, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom called on the Obama administration to designate ISIS’s violence against the Christian, Yazidi, Shi’a, Turkmen, and Shabak communities as genocide. That designation would assist these communities in receiving aid and protection and the administration should be encouraged to attend to the Commission’s request. Bravo to the Commission!
Religions impact public life; they are not wholly private. But what does religious liberty mean if churches aren't above public laws?
In Syria and Iraq, Christians and other religious minorities are victims of genocide at the hands of ISIS. Accounts of forced conversions, mass beheadings, torture, enslavement, rape, and even crucifixion are well-documented. Monasteries, convents, churches, and even whole villages have been looted and destroyed.
The pontiff’s condemnation of terrorism is unequivocal. Yet unlike many, he separates terrorism and religion.
Here in the United States, the common assumption is that the terrorism of ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, and Al Qaeda comes down to one word—Islam. So widespread is this notion that right wing pundits regularly jeer at those who decline to even use the term “Islamic terrorism.” There is something about Islam, these pundits claim, that explains the twisted intentions of these terrorist groups and the evil of their terrorism. Muslim history and even the Koran are interpreted and mined for evidence that purported terrorism is implicit in the religion’s teachings.
Against the blasphemy of terror, an outpouring of love and faith: After the terrorist attacks in Paris, people gathered at Notre Dame to mourn and worship.
My phone pinged with an email from my colleague, Dennis Coyle. He was away from the university, giving some lectures in France. The email he sent was from Paris, with a photo of the Cathedral of Notre Dame illuminated against the darkness. Dennis had joined the thousands who streamed to the cathedral for the memorial Mass for those dead and wounded by the evil of Friday’s terrorist attack. He described the scene outside the cathedral, packed with people who could not find room inside, the night brightened by the many watching Mass on their phones.
Our bishops do a disservice if they imagine that the church’s teachings for citizenship are restricted to matters like abortion, marriage, or religious liberty.
The poignancy of the moment was emotional. At the White House last Thursday, with a painting of Daniel Webster looking over my shoulder and a bust of Thomas Jefferson looking on, I raised my right hand and pledged to defend the Constitution of the United States and to faithfully execute my office. I closed with the profound oath, “So help me God.” With that I took up my responsibilities as part of the president’s White House Advisory Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
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