First of all... what a depressing outcome. The Catholic Church and Christians of all denominations, and anyone who values life and religious liberty have been dealt a severe blow. We had a chance to undo some damaging policies with the election of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, but the votes were just not there. Is it the shape of the new electorate? Perhaps. Maybe it was due to apathy or an ill-informed public. Whatever it is, we have work to do, and we need to start by changing the culture, one person at a time.
It is clear from the exit polls that even Catholics - those who share our faith and worship next to us on Sunday morning - were just as responsible for this tragic election outcome as the rest of the population. Though a majority of regular Mass attendees went for Romney/Ryan, (thank goodness), this edge for the pro-life candidate was wiped out by Catholics who attend Mass less regularly. In the end Obama won the overall Catholic vote in roughly the same percentage as the rest of America. That means that many, many Catholics voted against their own Church's teachings; they voted against life the unborn, against religious liberty, against traditional marriage... If this election taught us that we need to re-evangelize the culture, then we need to start right here in our own congregations among our fellow Catholics.
This was brought home to me in a conversation i had online with a fellow Catholic who supports the pro-choice side of the abortion debate. Below is a snippet of our conversation. (My friend will be referred to as "Confused" - for obvious reasons.):
Confused: Obama is giving us a choice. So did Jesus. It is up to individuals to make the right choice. Lets continue to pray for those to find God.
Me: Unfortunately Obama has taken away our choice on some things... He requires that Catholic institutions violate the moral teachings of the Church or face penalties. He expects us to violate our conscience. And the Democratic Party wants to use our tax money to fund the death of innocent children through abortion. I have no choice in that.
Confused: Do we really as Catholics NOT have a choice. Oh the choice may not be an easy one. No Federal Funding for Catholic hospitals. NO, sadly, we have a choice....it just isn't an easy one. Mark 10:25. How do we enter the kingdom? With God all things are possible.
Me: I'm not sure what you're implying. That the HHS mandate is okay in your books? That's not what the Catholic bishops are saying. Are you saying that Obama gives us a "choice" by supporting abortion rights, and that Jesus gives us the same choice? Explain that.
Certainly I agree that we should pray for people to make the right moral choices (as you said), but it is also our duty to support laws that uphold the sanctity of life and our religious freedom. And we must actively oppose laws that violate those principles. Obama's policies on these issues must be actively opposed by Catholics.
Confused: I am just saying I am thankful that I live in a country where we have freedoms. Even if some don't believe the same way I do, I am glad we are all given the freedom to choose. I understand what you are saying...that we shouldn't be supporting (and by this I mean both financially and morally) what we consider to be wrong. But we can't make laws that dictate how we should behave. Jesus did not demand that we follow him. He lets us choose to follow him. We can't force others to follow him either. We must allow them to make the right choice. I like having choices and not being made to do anything. Then when I choose right...I choose God, I know that it wasn't because I had no other choice. That is what I love about America. So I am saying God is still over all of us. He is still my protector. By providing more instead of less we are allowing people to make the choice.
Me: Actually we DO make laws that "dictate how we should behave." We make laws that limit our choices. That's the whole purpose of laws. Murder is illegal because we do not want people to have that as a choice. Stealing is illegal for the same reason. These things limit our behavior. Try driving over the speed limit or on the wrong side of the road...see if the law limits your choice then. What about rape? What about tax evasion? What about trespassing, or zoning laws, or age limits for drinking alcohol? And on and on and on. Every law on the books was designed to limit our choices and dictate our behavior.
But none of these laws force anyone to accept Jesus as their Savoir. None of these laws are theological in nature, and they do not establish a religion or dictate faith. You are confusing the issues. Abortion is an injustice because it kills an unborn baby. There are even atheists who are pro-life. Outlawing abortion would save lives...period. Whether or not people become Christian has NOTHING to do with it.
And, consider this: By aborting a child you take away EVERY choice that child could ever have made throughout his or her entire life. Talk about limiting choices. You even take away his or her choice to become Christian. Are you sure you are arguing on the right side of this issue?
Obviously my confused friend has been duped by the culture of death. She has been taught the radical freedom of "anything goes" and "live and let live," where religion is a private affair and we must not challenge the moral choices of others or bring our faith into the public square. She has even given it the "Jesus stamp of approval" - Jesus let's us choose sin, so why shouldn't our laws allow us to choose sin? Being pro-choice is exactly what Jesus wants.
There is so much to correct here...so many errors. Today's Catholics are not taught natural law, or moral theology, or even the basic tenets of the faith. What they do learn of the faith they water down with a mix of pop culture gibberish and feel-good sentiment and believe that they are doing God's Will.
Yes, much needs to be done to change our culture...and we need to start right here, right now.