Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics

Whether you're Catholic or not, this Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics is an interesting document. It's a little heavy handed in its tone, but the points are made. Included are:

These five issues are called non-negotiable because they concern actions that are always morally wrong and must never be promoted by the law. It is a serious sin to endorse or promote any of these actions, and no candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any of the five non-negotiables.

What are these issues? Abortion, Euthanasia ("mercy killing" or "doctor assisted suicide"), Fetal Stem Cell Research (notice that it is FETAL, not all), Human Cloning, and Homosexual "Marriage" (scare quotes are theirs). Another area of the document that may be more palatable to all are these guides on how to vote, or how not to vote:

1. Do not base your vote on your political party affiliation, your earlier voting habits, or your family's voting tradition. Years ago, these may have been trustworthy ways to determine whom to vote for, but today they are not reliable. You need to look at each candidate as an individual. This means that you may end up casting votes for candidates from more than one party.

2. Do not cast your vote based on candidates' appearance, personality, or "media savvy." Some attractive, engaging, and "sound-bite-capable" candidates endorse intrinsic evils and so should be opposed, while other candidates, who may be plain-looking, uninspiring, and ill at ease in front of cameras, endorse legislation in accord with basic Christian principles.

3. Do not vote for candidates simply because they declare themselves to be Catholic. Unfortunately, many self-described Catholic candidates reject basic Catholic moral teaching. They are "Catholic" only when seeking votes from Catholics.

4. Do not choose among candidates based on "What's in it for me?" Make your decision based on which candidates seem most likely to promote the common good, even if you will not benefit directly or immediately from the legislation they propose.

5. Do not reward with your vote candidates who are right on lesser issues but who are wrong on key moral issues. One candidate may have a record of voting exactly as you wish, aside from voting also in favor of, say, euthanasia. Such a candidate should not get your vote. Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.


1. For each office, first determine how each candidate stands on each of the five non-negotiable issues.

2. Eliminate from consideration candidates who are wrong on any of the non-negotiable issues. No matter how right they may be on other issues, they should be considered disqualified if they are wrong on even one of the non-negotiables.

3. Choose from among the remaining candidates, based on your assessment of each candidate's views on other, lesser issues.

It also instructs on how to choose the lesser of two evils, if you choose at all, and wraps up with a call to heed your conscience and if you can't trust said conscience, turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a moral guide.

The Church has it's problems, but its ideals are still admirable. The negative feelings towards the institutions and individuals within the church, caused by the problems and controversies of the past and present, shouldn't be assigned to the ideas and morality it teaches. Though the stances it takes are predictable (which shouldn't be taken to mean that I disagree with them!), it is a good foundation from which one can build a philosophy of politics of their own. If you don't feel that the five issues mentioned are non-negotiable, perhaps you can find some of your own. I think these are pretty solid as they are.

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