Father Booth’s Weekly Reflection

More Ballot Morality

Given that it is immoral to vote deliberately for a pro-abortion candidate, it might seem as if Catholics are nothing more than one-issue voters. This is hardly the case. Abortion, euthanasia, and if it ever came to it, infanticide are the preeminent issues of our time. Associated issues include embryonic stem cell research and cloning where human life is treated as a mere means to an end. All other considerations or issues regarding the choice of whom to vote for are secondary because every other human right hinges upon the very right to life itself. If some people can be denied the right to life, then anyone can be denied the right to life. If anyone can be denied the right to life, then all other moral and civil rights can be denied. As if on cue, a journalist recently called for anyone and everyone who supports a particular set of beliefs to be ‘prosecuted and convicted and removed from our society.’ Freedom of speech? Freedom of thought? Due process? The rule of law? Convicted of what crime? By removed from society does he mean execution? Anyone who disagrees with this journalist no doubt is unworthy of freedom or even life.

Nevertheless, other issues exist that cannot be supported through our vote. Denial of religious liberty is one such issue. While not rising to the same level as the right to life, religious freedom is an inalienable human right. By natural law and by our own Constitution, we have freedom of religion. Now it is more common for people to think that we have a right to freedom from religion – not meaning the right to personally reject any set of religious beliefs, which is a right – as if the right, nay, the duty exists to expunge religion from all public discourse. The position that we do not have a fundamental right to freedom of religion or policies reflecting a denial of religious liberty should disqualify any politician of our vote or political support.

Another issue that falls into the same category of the right to religious liberty is the sanctity of marriage. Marriage was instituted not by government decree, not by some legislative action, not by mere social convention but by our Creator. This is self-evident in nature. It is self-evident in our nature. It is self-evident biologically. The physical complementarity of man and woman and the lack of the same complementarity between a man and a man and the lack of the same complementarity between a woman and a woman tell us directly what the basic nature of marriage ought to be. This complementarity tells us that marriage is between male and female. Now it must be said that it is much less obvious that polygamy is a deviation from what our Creator had intended – He tolerated polygamy early in man’s history – just by nature alone, but human experience speaks almost as loudly as the testimony of Scripture. After all, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Likewise, the indissolubility of marriage, while attested to in both Old and especially the New Testaments, should also be self-evident. The stability of the family is essential for the culture, which is particularly true with regard to the health and well being of children. In other words, any candidate for office we vote for must uphold the one-man, one-woman nuclear family and reject any form of social engineering seeking to redefine, undermine, or dissolve the family.

Racism and other forms of unjust discrimination constitute yet another moral issue that cannot be tolerated in a political candidate. What makes racism more difficult is that it takes many quite subtle forms. Likewise, racism has become a common slur leveled against those not championing certain political opinions or causes but who are not necessarily racist or are even less racist than their accusers. Therefore, thorough discernment is essential. We see racism in the form of pandering to one group over another, in merely seeing people as nothing more than a demographic, in assuming that some groups are incapable of advancing by their own merits, and in the exploitation of vulnerable people for political or economic purposes. Human dignity demands that all be treated as true equals. Our Lord demands that we treat one another consistent with the fact that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Failing to recognize that we are all made in the image and likeness of God is the very root of how we end up with abortion, religious intolerance, policies undermining the family, and racism.

—Fr Booth