Sunday, August 26, 2012

Religion and Politics: A Deadly Mix For Religion

Mixing politics and religion makes me a little queasy.  Politics are always corrupt, so I'm not worried about any harm to politicians, but why would someone whose purpose is to serve God and save souls want to get involved in the matters of this world other than preaching the Word of God and showing people the way to salvation. 

Things have always been different in Europe since the times of Constantine in the fourth century when the Roman Emperor decided it was better to join forces with the Christians as opposed to fighting them, which only seemed to give the Christians even more strength.  Europe became Catholic in nature and the Church always had great influence in those who governed.  Many feel that Christendom ended with the French Revolution in the 18th Century.  Certainly the history of Europe since that time has been one bloody fight after another reaching a climax in the 20th Century with WWII.  Europe's slide into atheistic secularism has been on a fast track since then.

John F. Kennedy and Pope Paul VI
The Catholic Church has never had the influence in America that it had in Europe.  Despite the fact that many point to the Judeo-Christian ethic that this country was supposedly founded upon, Catholics have always been viewed with suspicion and were actively persecuted in most of the 19th Century.  Governor Al Smith of New York, who lived from 1873 to 1944, was rejected as a presidential candidate when he ran in 1928 because of his Catholicism.  Even in 1960, when John F. Kennedy ran for president, Catholicism was still viewed as a danger to the country and he was forced to distance himself from the Catholic Church. 

But despite all of this, politicians have always and continue to court the Catholic vote just because there are so many of us.  And in this 2012 presidential election both the Democrats and Republicans are trying to cozy up to the Catholic vote. 

I have just recently posted on the scandal involving Cardinal Dolan's invitation to pro-abortion President Barack Obama.  His Eminence says he is doing this:
[T]o show both our country and our Church at their best: people of faith gathered in an evening of friendship, civility, and patriotism, to help those in need, not to endorse either candidate. Those who started the dinner sixty-seven years ago believed that you can accomplish a lot more by inviting folks of different political loyalties to an uplifting evening, rather than in closing the door to them.
Cardinal Dolan is living in a fantasy world if he thinks that he can "make nice" with any politician whose avowed purpose is to destroy the Catholic Church.   No politician ever shows his true face, especially to those whom he considers to be his enemy.  And have no doubt, Barack Hussein Obama considers the Catholic Church to be his worst enemy. Personally, I don't think Mitt Romney has a whole lot of love for the Catholic Church, either. 

The New York Times just recently ran an article focusing on how the Republicans are pushing for the Catholic Vote by trying to make nice with Cardinal Dolan, head of the US Bishops, and that Cardinal Dolan seems to be positively responding to them.  The article also cites the Democrats as pursuing the Catholic vote as well.

Invitation to Cardinal Shows G.O.P.’s Catholic Push

August 24, 2012

Some benedictions bestow a bigger blessing than others, and Mitt Romney hit the jackpot by signing up Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., next week.
The move is perhaps the clearest sign of a more aggressive push by Republicans to win over Roman Catholic voters this election cycle. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the votes of a majority of Catholics, assisted in part by his Catholic running mate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. [I would have to take exception to this statement.  I highly doubt that any Catholic, practicing or not, voted for Barack Obama on the basis of his presidential candidate, Joe Biden.]
But this time the Republicans sense an opportunity to cut into that advantage, at least with moderate and independent Catholics, because of two recent developments: President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage and the standoff between the Obama administration and Catholic bishops over the requirement that Catholic hospitals and schools must provide coverage for birth control in their employee health insurance plans. The issue has become the centerpiece of a campaign by the bishops to defend what they consider a matter of religious liberty. [I have stated previously that this is a losing strategy on the part of the bishops.  By making this issue one of "religious liberty" instead of what it is, which is one of good versus evil, they are denying the reality of what is actually happening and turning it into a secular issue.] 

The Obama campaign is aggressively contending for Catholic voters too, and the rivalry has been sharpened this year because Catholics are in the vice-presidential slot on both tickets.  [This is a very debatable statement.  Everything Joe Biden does and says is in complete opposition to the teachings of the Church.  To call him "Catholic" is like calling a wax flower a plant.]  Mr. Biden and the Republican challenger, Representative Paul D. Ryan, represent competing factions within their own church: Mr. Biden places a premium on the church’s social justice tradition of caring for the needy, while Mr. Ryan champions church teaching against abortion and same-sex marriage. Both are accused by their critics of being “cafeteria Catholics” willing to abandon the church teachings they do not politically support.
Mr. Romney had been courting Cardinal Dolan since April. That month, the two had a private meeting, previously undisclosed, at the chancery in New York, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said Peter G. Flaherty, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign who is Catholic and who served as Mr. Romney’s liaison to the religious community when he was governor of Massachusetts.

“We’re going to have outreach to Catholics in a coordinated, organized effort — state by state, diocese by diocese, parish by parish and pew by pew,” Mr. Flaherty said in an interview.  [And they're going to conveniently leave out all of Romney's past anti-
Catholic positions.]

He added that Mr. Romney, a Mormon, had close ties with Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and traveled to Rome for the ceremony at which the prelate was made a cardinal. But Mr. Romney sought out Cardinal Dolan to give the benediction at the convention, Mr. Flaherty said, because of his stature as president of the bishops’ conference and his proclamations that religious liberty is at risk because of Obama administration policies. Mr. Romney has echoed this theme on the campaign trail and in a television advertisement. [This video is a bit of a joke.  It talks about the assault on religious freedom by Obama, then includes a clip of Romney quoting JPII as saying "Be Not Afraid."  But it doesn't tell us what Romney plans to do about the "assault on religious freedom."]
It is also the message of a slickly produced video aimed at religious voters that the Romney campaign says it did not produce but that clearly helps its cause. The video juxtaposes people entering a voting booth with a blacksmith forging the words “life,” “marriage” and “freedom” in a raging fire, and it ends by asking, “Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?” There are two versions of the video, one for Catholics and one for evangelicals. The evangelical version has been viewed fewer than 30,000 times, while the Catholic version has been seen more than 1.9 million times.
Here is the video if you want to watch it.  Frankly, I feel insulted by it.  This video names the important issues, but gives no promises that the Republicans will do things any differently than the Democrats have done.

Catholics make up about a quarter of the electorate, but they hardly vote as a bloc any longer [this shows how the Church herself has become fragmented, some still following Church teaching, but the vast majority becoming their own magesterium and deciding what is right or wrong]. The Catholic vote is instead a bellwether that mirrors the general electorate. Exit polls showed that in 2008 Mr. Obama prevailed among Catholic voters by nine percentage points.

This time, Gallup’s daily tracking poll, taken from July 30 to Aug. 19, showed Mr. Romney with a slight edge among registered voters who are Catholic.

“Since 1972, the candidate who has won the Catholic vote has won the popular vote as well,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington. “The Catholic vote does tend to be on the side of the winning candidate. It’s the quintessential religious swing group.”  [This is the only reason the political parties are paying attention to the Catholics.]

But Mr. Jones said he did not see evidence of major shifts among Catholic voters this time — not among white Catholics, who tend to favor the Republican, and not among Latino Catholics, who tend to favor the Democrat. Neither the bishops’ religious liberty campaign nor the president’s initiative to lift some restrictions for illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children has resulted in much of a change, Mr. Jones said.

Both campaigns are organizing Catholic leadership teams in the states, and they have announced slates of prominent Catholics to serve as national co-chairmen and surrogates. The Romney campaign has enlisted six former American ambassadors to the Holy See as national co-chairmen of Catholics for Romney.
The co-chairmen of Catholics for Obama are scholars, prominent laypeople like Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, and politicians like Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio and Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois. [None of these people should be allowed to call themselves "Catholic" as they stand against the Church in every issue.]
The Obama campaign is counting on the social justice Catholics who are concerned that the Romney-Ryan team would cut the safety net for the needy and the elderly. Polls have also shown that many Catholics support same-sex marriage and do not accept the bishops’ assertions that religious liberty is at risk. [This is why making the war with Obama about "religious liberty" is such a terrible mistake.  Even Catholics don't understand why Obama is wrong because no one is explaining it to them.  Maybe if the bishops would actually teach the beliefs of the Church, more people would understand why Obama's actions are evil and must be opposed.]

Staff members with the Obama campaign who did not want to be quoted said it would be highlighting the fact that the bishops had repeatedly issued letters criticizing the budget proposed by Mr. Ryan over its failure to protect what the Bible calls “the least of these.” [There is a much more vulnerable group that needs the bishops' attention - the unborn, who are being killed by the millions in our country.  In the City of New York, which is a major part of Cardinal Dolan's archdiocese, there are 89,000 babies killed every year.  41% of all pregnancies in this city end in abortion, and over 60% of all pregnancies in the minority communities are aborted.  That is where the bishops' focus should be.]

The invitation to Cardinal Dolan circumvented church protocol, said the cardinal’s spokesman, Joseph Zwilling. Usually, the local bishop gives the prayer at the convention. So when the Romney campaign asked Cardinal Dolan to deliver the benediction, the cardinal first checked with Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Fla., who gave his approval, Mr. Zwilling said.

Cardinal Dolan accepted but said that he would be giving only a prayer, not an endorsement, Mr. Zwilling said. The cardinal also said that he had informed the Democratic Party that he would accept a similar invitation from it. A spokesman for the Obama campaign said that it had not offered one but suggested that it was close to announcing its religious lineup. [The Democratic party has since said they will not be inviting Cardinal Dolan to their convention.  Why Cardinal Dolan would even want to go this convention, which will be a celebration of abortion and same sex marriage, is beyond my understanding.]
* * * 
Raymond Arroyo of EWTN just did an interview with Mitt Romney in which he asked Romney what, as president, he will do about the HHS Mandate.  Father Z has a partial written transcript on his blog:
Raymond Arroyo: The Catholic community in this country and people across the faith spectrum were outraged by President Obama’s HHS Mandate – requiring abortifacients and contraceptives to be made available to employees. It set off protests by the Catholic bishops and individual people of faith. What will you do as president about that HHS Mandate?

Gov. Romney: Well, first of all I’ll continue to meet with to Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] – who by the way is going to offer the benediction on the last evening of the Republican Convention after my acceptance speak. So I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance. This is a nation where our first freedom is the right to worship God as we choose, and any effort on the part of the federal government to intrude on religious liberty and to reject tolerance in favor of a government mandate is a violation of that first freedom.
Did you notice something missing from Romney's answer?  He talks about the importance of freedom and assures us that he supports religious freedom.  He also promises that he will continue to meet with Cardinal Dolan.  Romney tells us "the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him [Cardinal Dolan] and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance."  But he does not say what he will do about the mandate.  Catholics, are you listening?

Remember there was a politician in 2008 who made big promises during his campaign.  Barack Obama said the first thing he would do if elected president would be to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.  He actually even signed an executive order that it be closed.  Yet, it is still open, almost four years into his presidency, and in fact, Obama doesn't even mention it anymore.  Politicians lie, folks, and when a politician couches his words as Romney did in answering Raymond Arroyo's question, it would be foolhardy to believe any of what he is saying. 

I watched all of Raymond Arroyo's interview with Mitt Romney, and it was basically one softball question after another.  One of Arroyo's "pressing" questions was why Paul Ryan has stopped wearing ties since he began campaigning with Romney.  Arroyo never once questioned Romney on his changing positions regarding abortion, on the fact that he supports abortion in cases of rape, that he supports homosexuals as leaders of the Boy Scouts, that he supports same sex civil unions, that he supports the adoption of children by homosexuals, the fact that RomneyCare was the basis of ObamaCare and that Romney covered abortions in his healthcare plan, or any of a myriad of other issues that are of importance to any thinking Catholic. 

I can only repeat one more time:  we have no choice in this election.  Barack Obama and Mitt Romney look different from each other and may even sound different, but they are one and the same person.  Nothing will change under Mitt Romney.  I would love to be wrong, but I have no choice but to face reality and admit the sad reality that American voters, and particularly Catholics, are screwed in this election.

The following are 40 ways that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are essentially the same candidate….

1. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported TARP.

2. Mitt Romney supported Barack Obama’s “economic stimulus” packages.

3. Mitt Romney says that Barack Obama’s bailout of the auto industry was actually his idea.

4. Neither candidate supports immediately balancing the federal budget.

5. They both believe in big government and they both have a track record of being big spenders while in office.

6. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both fully support the Federal Reserve.

7. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both on record as saying that the president should not question the “independence” of the Federal Reserve.

8. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both said that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke did a good job during the last financial crisis.

9. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both felt that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke deserved to be renominated to a second term.

10. Both candidates oppose a full audit of the Federal Reserve.

11. Both candidates are on record as saying that U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has done a good job.

12. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have both been big promoters of universal health care.

13. Mitt Romney was the one who developed the plan that Obamacare was later based upon.

14. Wall Street absolutely showers both candidates with campaign contributions.

15. Neither candidate wants to eliminate the income tax or the IRS.

16. Both candidates want to keep personal income tax rates at the exact same levels for the vast majority of Americans.

17. Both candidates are “open” to the idea of imposing a Value Added Tax on the American people.

18. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the TSA is doing a great job.

19. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported the NDAA.

20. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both supported the renewal of the Patriot Act.

21. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the federal government should be able to indefinitely detain American citizens that are considered to be terrorists.

22. Both candidates believe that American citizens suspected of being terrorists can be killed by the president without a trial.

23. Barack Obama has not closed Guantanamo Bay like he promised to do, and Mitt Romney actually wants to double the number of prisoners held there.

24. Both candidates support the practice of “extraordinary rendition”.

25. They both support the job-killing “free trade” agenda of the global elite.

26. They both accuse each other of shipping jobs out of the country and both of them are right.

27. Both candidates are extremely soft on illegal immigration.

28. Neither candidate has any military experience. This is the first time that this has happened in a U.S. election since 1944.

29. Both candidates earned a degree from Harvard University.

30. They both believe in the theory of man-made global warming.

31. Mitt Romney has said that he will support a “cap and trade” carbon tax scheme (like the one Barack Obama wants) as long as the entire globe goes along with it.

32. Both candidates have a very long record of supporting strict gun control measures.

33. Both candidates have been pro-abortion most of their careers. Mitt Romney’s “conversion” to the pro-life cause has been questioned by many. In fact, Mitt Romney has made millions on Bain Capital’s investment in a company called “Stericycle” that incinerates aborted babies collected from family planning clinics.

34. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both believe that the Boy Scout ban on openly gay troop leaders is wrong.

35. They both believe that a “two state solution” will bring lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

36. Both candidates have a history of nominating extremely liberal judges.

37. Like Barack Obama, Mitt Romney also plans to add “signing statements” to bills when he signs them into law.

38. They both have a horrible record when it comes to job creation.

39. Both candidates believe that the president has the power to take the country to war without getting the approval of the U.S. Congress.

40. Both candidates plan to continue running up more government debt even though the U.S. government is already 16 trillion dollars in debt.

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