Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pulpit Initiative

This sounds like it is worth considering.

I can't say I agree with everything they stand for or are associated with, as I haven't looked into it enough, but their main goal is to restore that principle that "churches and pastors have a constitutional right to speak freely and truthfully from the pulpit – even on candidates and voting – without fearing loss of their tax exemption," which I think is very good.

It is has neutered the voice of religion in the public square to not let us endorse candidates from the pulpit, to not let us form direct political alliances as institutions without losing tax-exempt status. Though I also think bishops have been cowards for not defying this, for not calling their bluff by at least excommunicating pro-abortion politicians, etc


sortacatholic said...

I'm rather surprised that you think political advocacy from the pulpit is a good idea. I strongly disagree with you, and here's why.

The Roman Church in the US has only one political agenda with some secondary and tertiary concerns. That main agenda is the recriminalization of abortion. The Church has made it clear that this is the pressing social issue of the day. All Catholics are bound to defeat abortion by any means possible under the pain of mortal sin. This is especially true for Catholic politicians.

To this end, the Church has joined in a union with the Republican Party. Yet this marriage has been uneasy. The bishops are quite liberal on a number of issues, i.e. healthcare and immigration, so long as the push for the recriminalization of abortion is not compromised.

One of the dangers of this particular church-party union is the inevitability that a particular candidate will either not represent the Church on most other issues or display gross incompetence (or both). A cleric that preaches "good Catholics always vote Republican" runs the risk of endorsing bad candidates.

I am not even convinced that the GOP is all that interested in the recriminalization of abortion. Rather, GOP pols trot that issue out right before ballot time to lock in the "values voters". Yet if the Church wants to continue this union solely on the basis of abortion recriminalization, then she must be aware that she will inevitably endorse unfit, or even criminal, candidates.

The moment that a bishop enjoins Catholics to vote Republican under pain of sin, you'll find me preparing for chrismation.

A Sinner said...

Then you misunderstand me. I don't imagine anyone threatening people to vote Republican under pain of sin from the pulpit (though I wouldn't leave the church over one bishop doing that, either).

What I would imagine is a Third Party being formed with the full support of the Catholic hierarchy that was fully "Catholic" on all issues (though also robustly allowing for diversity in issues on which disagreement is allowed).

What we really need in this country is to break the Two-Party system...but it's hard for that to happen.

One reason it is hard is because of abortion. The stakes are too high for people to risk "throwing their vote away" on a Third Party that has no chance of winning (at least not right away). Yet exactly what a Third Party would need to gain momentum is to gradually get more and more support over a few elections (even if it didn't win in the first few).

But I think people don't like to risk voting for something that has "no chance" in general, hence the Two-Party vice-grip continues.

If the Church threw the weight of its institutional authority behind a Catholic Third Party, however, people might show a lot more willingness in (and feel moral) voting for such a Party.

A Third Party needs a major endorsement like that.

If the Church could ban Italians from voting for all those years in the Italian Republic after the Papal States were taken, and could interdict whole kingdoms and excommunicate could do this.

I don't imagine them telling people who to vote for, but they could officially endorse a new third party and therefore give it a fighting chance.