Kerry the Candidate for Catholics Who Believe in the Constitution
Shawn M. O’Donnell and Drucilla Badurina
It seems clear to informed and discerning Roman Catholics that John Kerry‘s public positions prove that he should elected the next President of the United States. He should be the new leader of the United States, a secular nation that enshrines in its Constitution one of its founding principles, freedom of religion.
John Kerry is not running for president because he and some of his advisors and supporters think he was chosen by God to do so. Nor does Kerry want to govern a country where separation of church and state becomes hazy and religion is dictated by the state or the state is dictated by religion.
Kerry’s public policy positions and senatorial voting record are much more closely aligned with our church’s social and economic justice issues including health care, jobs and the environment. His belief in the importance of separation of church and state is not
merely lip service. As he has stated, “I fully intend to practice my religion separately from what I do with my public life and that’s the way it ought to be in America.”
It seems that ultraconservative Catholics and many on the Christian right are working to create a theocratic, oligarchic, plutocratic Christian government in the United States. They believe that this administration, with a president selected by God, leads a holy war against good and evil. Bush’s public statements and private ones made public buttress that belief. According to one well known theologian, this administration and many of its Christian right supporters project an “American messianic nationalism.”
Unfortunately, recent statements by a number of Catholic bishops appear to suggest that, their protestations to the contrary, they might look with favor on just such a theocratic government. They might as well be upfront and open about it and ask the United States Council of Catholic Bishops to lobby for a constitutional amendment to establish Roman Catholicism as the state religion!
The hypocrisy and secrecy of many of the U.S. Catholic Church’s hierarchy in the sexual abuse scandal and the “manipulation” of the lay National Review Board investigating the scandal by some of the bishops have an eerie parallel to the hypocrisy and secrecy
of the Bush administration. Pay, pray, obey, shut up and just trust us seems to be the rallying cry for both.
History shows us the wisdom of the founding fathers in writing our Constitution. They knew from experience that separation of church and state was vitally important in this democratic republic and remains so to this day. Subsequent additional constitutional
amendments that were inclusive of the people endured while those exclusive of the people failed and disappeared. One critic of the Bush administration’s arrogant incompetence regarding its unprecedented, unilateral, pre-emptive war against and occupation of Iraq
observed that perhaps the Iraqis should borrow our Constitution because Bush’s administration isn’t using it or abiding by it.
John Kerry’s campaign has said that religion should not be an issue in U. S. politics. A Kerry spokesman made this statement: “The decisions he [Kerry] will make as president will be guided by his obligation to all the people of our country and to the Constitution of
the United States. Every American---whether they be Jewish, Catholic, Protestant or any other faith---must believe their president is representing them.”
In order to keep its tax-exempt status, the Catholic Church in the United States is prohibited from interposing or participating in political campaigns for or against any candidate.
Even without that barrier, it is inappropriate for bishops, priests or religious to publicly endorse either political party or candidate. However, if they truly believe in the Constitution and freedom of religion, they should personally and privately support John Kerry’s
Let us hope, for the good of this nation, the world and Catholics everywhere, the Democratic Party’s candidate, John Kerry, will be elected the 44th President of the United States.