Today, KSDK was reporting that Archbishop Raymond Burke has told his flock that voting for any candidate who is on the wrong side of the fence (from Burke’s perspective) commits a grave sin. (Let me say that I am not a Catholic, nor do I play one on TV.)
The five “life issues” are abortion, euthenasia, stem-cell research, cloning and same-sex marriage.
Imagine that, voting can now be a sin! And, I suppose, since he has indicated that you must confess this sin before taking communion, that the voting process, at least for Catholics who are not voting as Burke would have them vote, is no longer a secret ballot.
Burke’s already gotten a lot of press for withholding communion from Catholic public servants who are not on the same page as him with regard to abortion issues. I guess, since he’s the final Catholic authority locally, he figures that he can hold hostage communion with God in an attempt to sway you. Personally, I think it’s God’s role to convict your heart about such things, through prayer, and then judge you, rather than a flock leader to blackmail you into that leader’s beliefs.
What if it was a different issue? Let’s say the Archbishop decided to hold his flock accountable to vote appropriately for other issues, perhaps the war in Iraq, else their life in eternity is in jeopardy. What then? How much power should any church or organization have over the voting process? Should it possible for an organization, especially a church, to tell their members that they must vote a certain way? Perhaps employers should get in this game, and require their employees to vote certain ways, holding promotions or jobs themselves in the balance.
I do wonder who the next group will be that will extort their members to vote a certain way? Maybe the ACLU, NAACP or NASCAR? Those groups can legally push a particular candidate. As I understand it, churches cannot. I guess Burke is skating around that piece of law by telling his flock that they must vote for candidates on the right side of these issues. Since Kerry is not on Burke’s side of those issues, he is essentially endorsing Bush, and telling his church members that they must vote his way, with their eternal life in the balance. If that’s not an endorsement of a candidate, and blackmail for votes, I don’t know what is.
Yeah, I know I probably have stretched my imagination with some of the “what ifs”, but the bottom line is that the local Catholic church is telling their folks how to vote — which many organizations every day also do. The difference is that the Catholic church is now trying to hold your soul for ransom in exchange for your vote. That’s not anyone’s job; that’s God’s job! 🙂