Friday, October 1, 2010

Why I cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat

Please notice that this post is not entitled "Why I Have Never Been a Democrat." In fact, I was a registered Democrat in 1992, and I voted for Bill Clinton. My dear husband (now a conservative Republican) has a long history of being a Democratic activist, starting with his work on Harry Reid's very first campaign, continuing with his internship at The Carter Center at Emory University under Jimmy Carter, and interning for Democratic Senator Wyche Fowler at the Capitol.

Weeks ago, Rebecca was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post on why I am a Catholic and a Republican. Or, perhaps more accurately from my perspective, why I am a Catholic and cannot be a Democrat. This is a slightly edited version of that post.
My reasons are pretty cut and dry.
The last two popes and the bishops have taught that there are certain “non-negotiable” issues for Catholics involved in politics, issues which trump all other considerations. The non-negotiables come down to these:
  • Abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
  • Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned. 
  • The traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman must always be upheld.
  • The right of parents to educate their children must always be upheld.
All other issues (for example, immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, etc.) are considered policy issues, about which Catholics are free to disagree. As Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has clarified in a guide for Catholics called, Catholics in the Public Square
On each of these [policy] issues, we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter.
Indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote:
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.  (Christifideles Laici, 38)
In his letter, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:
Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.
In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:
    • Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
    • Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
    • The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

In light of that crystal clear teaching, consider the following:

On Abortion
Today’s Democratic Party supports abortion unequivocally, to the point that even the word “rare” (as in “we believe abortion should be safe, legal and rare”) was finally and purposefully removed from the 2008 Democratic Platform. By contrast, the 2008 Republican Platform affirms that the “unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”
On Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning
The Democratic Platform champions taxpayer funding for the destruction of human embryos to be used as research material, denouncing those who oppose it as putting “ideology” (i.e., their Catholic Faith) above “science.”
Compare that to the Republican Platform: “We call for a ban on human cloning and a ban on the creation of or experimentation on human embryos for research purposes" and a "ban on all embryonic stem-cell research, public or private.”
On Euthanasia
The growing push for the legalization of euthanasia at both the state and federal levels also comes from Democrats (who often refer to this type of killing as “death with dignity”).  The Republican Platform, however, explicitly condemns this intrinsic moral evil: “[W]e oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society.”
On Defense of Traditional Marriage*
Today’s Democrats are much more likely to promote homosexual rights and push for “gay marriage” than Republicans, whose Platform calls for protection of traditional marriage, in the form of a Constitutional Amendment.
On the Right of Parents to Educate Their Children

Democrats (and the liberal teachers’ unions to which they are beholden) go to great lengths to deny parents a choice in their children’s education, not only opposing school vouchers for private schools, but also opposing secular public charter schools, which often deviate from the leftist model. Laws that seek to limit the rights of homeschooling parents also come overwhelmingly from Democrats. By contrast, the Republican Platform states: “Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child.” 

On every non-negotiable point for Catholics, the Democratic Party takes the wrong side. It is no wonder that it has become known as the Party of Abortion or the Party of Death. 
Catholics should take note that it is also the Party that is most hostile to traditional religion, and becoming more so. 
I want to make one thing clear: I am a Catholic before I am a Republican. In fact, I am not overly thrilled with the Republican Party these days and may become an Independent if the Republicans ever change course. But the one thing I cannot do is align myself with the Democrats. Catholics must evaluate candidates and vote based on the non-negotiable issues. (I have heard tell of a mythical creature called a “pro-life Democrat politician” but I have never actually seen a voting record that would confirm its existence). 
It’s a sad truth that the Democratic Party of today is nothing like the Democratic Party of our grandparents, which still had a moral grounding. We must not confuse the present with the past, and yet many Catholics do. They are either unaware or unwilling to admit that the Democratic Party (once supported overwhelmingly by Catholics) has become little more than a mouthpiece for secular materialism, an extremely anti-Catholic ideology. 
Finally, to the Catholics who have not left the Democratic Party: Please consider that the Democratic Party has long ago left you.

*Update: In 2012, the Democrats made acceptance of gay "marriage" a part of their Party platform. They considered the move "non-controversial."



  1. Leila-- this pot PERFECTLY captures what I argue about with my parents, particularly my father. He's Catholic and 100% pro-life, but has a union background that predisposes him to vote Democrat. Of all the things to choose as a leg to stand on, I CANNOT fathom why he goes with that one!

  2. Well said. It is exactly the same reasons that I changed party affilitiation to Independent, but then had to switch to republican to vote in the primaries. It was hard, I always had in my head that Democrats stood up for the little people and education (special ed) is my field. But clearly they don't stand up for the littlest people of all. I used to call myself a prolife democrat, but even that doesn't cut it anymore. After the same documents you cited, I couldn't in good conscious vote Democrate. I realized if 9/11 happened daily, then the issue of terrorism would be all we voted on until it was rectified. We lose the same # of children to abortion, every day, so the comparision is a valid one. I am not thrilled with the Republican party 100%, but for now it will have to do.

  3. Btw, at the University I attend and work at, it is assumed in my field that we are all Democrat. It filters into every class, every email sent by the dept, every everything. It isn't just democrat, but very far left beliefs. I worry about the students who go there thinking that they are getting a balanced view, or those that are impressionable. I am grateful for my Catholic belief system and that I see it all for what it is. I imagine this University is not unique.

  4. I completely agree. I cannot, as a Catholic, be a Democrat.

    But I don't think that being a Republican is in line with Church teaching, either.

    It is time for a new political party, one with a strong philosophy, grounded in natural law, that seeks to make a just society, where, as Dorothy Day put it, "the state makes it easier to be good." I suggest Distributism. Check it out

  5. For me, I am okay with being a Republican because the Republican Party does not take a stand in opposition to the non-negotiables. So I don't think it is "out of line" with Church teaching, per se.

    I'm not a fan of third parties, in general.... I agree with Michael Medved's position on that, but that's a whole other post and it would be only my humble opinion. :)

  6. The nicest thing about being a Catholic, it seems to me, is there is no need for debate. It not possible to debate on any of the points above, because the premise is that the Catholic Church teaches it. What follows is not " ... and I have put much thought into it and I agree" or even " ... and I agree". What follows is "and so this is how I act."

    One of the reasons I am a Democrat, and am no longer a Catholic, is that I have put a lot of thought into each of these teaching points, and disagree with some (if not all) aspects of all of them.

  7. Mai, wow. If you think there is no love of debate in Catholicism, may I suggest you start reading 2,000 years of theology and philosophy? The Church has an intellectual treasure of debate and discussion the likes of which you've apparently never seen. Introduce yourself to it... you will be blown away.


    Mai, see above to understand that some truths (the Deposit of Faith) are transcendent, and not dependent on what you or I think. That is why those truths are not negotiable.

  9. Hi, Leila - I've actually read a number of books on the topic. It took me many years to finally turn away from the church. One of my favorites is "Voting about God in Early Church Councils", (it's highly amusing if you can get through the academic nature of it), and then there is also the stuff by John Dominic Crossan (, the best of which is "Historical Jesus" in my opinion. My husband had a number of classes with Crossan while he attended DePaul.

    It is very hard for me to accept something without first thinking about it - so at my heart I can't agree that some truths are non-negotiable and not dependent on what I think. I still want to write about that "Your truth, my truth, THE truth" thing we talked about the other day, but it takes a while to get my head around it.

  10. Mai, Crossan and the Jesus Seminar folks basically don't believe in Christianity, the literal resurrection of Christ, etc. I give them ZERO credence. They are basically secular humanists.

    Read Christian stuff if you want to know about Christianity. There's plenty of intellectual Christian stuff. You don't need to read books that preach heterodoxy. You can turn on CNN for that.

  11. If there were no objective truth... can you imagine what kind of world we'd live in?? I totally understand the desire (even the need) to think about things before accepting them. I myself (like Leila) am a very logic-based person. But seriously, you could "argue" a case for just about anything, make it YOUR truth, and live accordingly. And then there's be chaos.
    For example:
    "I'm a man. I have studied biology at the top Universities in the country, and I strongly believe that I have needs of a sexual nature that must be fulfilled. Therefore, after thinking about it long and hard, I have decided that I do NOT agree that rape is wrong. If a woman I see does not want me to fulfill my needs with her, she just does not understand my truth."
    And so on and so forth.

    Can you see that objective truth, then, should NEVER be dependent on what "we" THINK?

    Leila, one of the reasons I'm happy to be leaving my parish is because there are mostly Catholic Democrats at my current one. And vocally so. Oh, and the pastor is one of them.

  12. Well said. It's not so much that the Republican party is pristine and perfect. I wish they would follow through more often on some of the things they supposedly stand for. But the issue here really is that the Democratic party is hostile to the Catholic faith. Yes, some Catholics still belong to the party, but when you really understand and live the Catholic religion, well, your last line is perfect: The Democratic Party has left you.

    Also, I find it interesting that Catholics are accused of putting "ideology" before science. This is a very narrow view. Plenty of secular ethicists are still debating stem cell research etc. There are bans on this research in other countries, even European countries last I checked. America is one of the few countries willing to throw all caution to the wind and move forward with this when others recognize the ethical stickiness. Yet they have to gall to act like Catholics are just being "ideological" and "unscientific." Okay, end rant lol.

  13. MaiZeke... it's not a matter of either thinking about things OR accepting something as a non-negotiable truth. The Catholic Church's "non-negotiables" have been thoroughly thought through... and many who embrace them have thought and researched long and hard about these issues. It's not about lacking debate, it's about debating for the purpose of uncovering what is true. If nothing is objectively good or true, then why even bother debating? What is the goal or purpose? What are you discovering or uncovering through discussion of anything? If anything, not believing in objective truth squashes debate. Everything is just, "Well I feel..." "Oh that's interesting... I personally think... " with no intelligent resolution.

  14. Great post, Leila! You outlined it so well. Can you find a way for all Catholics to see this post? Haha..

  15. I don't follow a religious tradition but that doesn't mean that I have no morals. For example, TCIE, for the man who says, " ... therefore I think rape is ok." I believe that one person's rights end where another person's begin. Rape is a simple example where the rights of the woman are (almost) universally accepted, but (back to the topic) homosexual unions are a better example. Both sides use the argument that their rights are being trampled on -- the gay community says "Why should you care if I get married? How is your marriage affected if I am in a monogamous relationship with my partner?" And the conservative community says "My rights are trampled because if we allow YOU to do this, my children might do this (and then my children would be dead to me)."

    When I look at those two competing individual rights, I think that conservatives can continue to teach their children that homosexuality is not acceptable, while still allowing someone wholly unconnected to them their rights to the legal benefits of marriage.

    Like I said, I'm still mulling over how to write about this "truth" thing - I really want to defend it, if even for my own satisfaction - if not for more interesting discussion here. I wouldn't say I subscribe wholly to non-cognitivism, but it's an interesting idea.

    And one last thing, I disagree that in order to debate Christianity I must read Christian-sanctioned material. You say that the Church has debated these topics for millenia, and I read an historical account of some of the earliest of those debates (the "Voting about God" example)! How can that not be acceptable?

  16. Macmullen (the "Voting about God" guy) says in every one of his books that he is not trying to prove any point, he is merely recording for the sake of history. He is not on any "side" of the argument at all. And I'm a little shocked that Crossan doesn't believe in Christianity, I never got that from reading his books (in fact I thought he was still Catholic). I have to go look him up some more, and dig those books out.

  17. Mai, when you say "voting about God" are you talking about the Council of Nicea and the formulation of the Creed? I think maybe you (or the author) are confused about what Councils do.

    Also, since you are not Catholic, nor Christian, this post is not written with you in mind. I am glad you are reading it, but this particular post should only be of peripheral interest to a non-Catholic.

    When you write on truth, I think the overarching question you should address is how "your truth" is different from "your opinion".

  18. PS: Crossan and the Jesus Seminar folks may self-identify as "Christian" but they don't believe in any of the core Christian tenets. It's like if I said I were a vegetarian but I believed in eating meat.

  19. Mai, I too need to think and research things to death. In college I had many profs who touted Crossan and the Jesus Seminar folks. I found myself becoming more and more agnostic as I fed on their beliefs.
    But I decided that before I could profess myself as an agnostic I needed to give the Church of my parents one final say. So I started reading the catechism and solid Catholic apologetics. I wanted to hear what the actual faithful members of the Church had to say. It was hard six month battle where I read and read and read to get my questions answered. I came out on the other side of fully Catholic. (More so than my parents).
    My point is, plenty of people have "reasoned" themselves into the Church. I am just one of them, and not even close to being the smartest or deepest thinker. It is possible to be "against the Church" so to say, and then in a short time find yourself part of her. Just a fair warning. :)

  20. On the contrary, this post was actually very interesting to me. I did find out that if I would be having discussions with you, I should only mention writings that are Catholic-friendly. Since this is the only blog I still read that has that quality, I'm sorry that your "liberal quotient" in the bubble will go back down by 1.

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  22. I just love this post. I loved it the first time I read on someone else's blog and I love it again.

  23. Oh and Leila...just because the republican party doesn't explicitly take a stand against the non-negotiables stated (certainly that isn't an exhaustive list) doesn't mean it is in line with Church teaching. The democratic party may be further from the mark, but that doesn't make the republican party on (or even near) the mark.

    That being said, I should be clear...I've voted for republicans before when I haven't been offered a better choice. But I could never call myself a republican, because I don't prescribe to their platform. In fact, I think their platform is hurting our country.

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  25. Mai, you must have misunderstood me. I am glad you commented. I enjoy reading your opinions. I just wanted to make sure you knew that this post wasn't designed to convince you of Christianity or Catholicism. This particular one was mostly for Catholics. That was my only point. There will be other post where I am defending the actual tenets of Christianity, but this isn't one of them.

    Of course you are always welcome here and welcome to comment. Sorry for the confusion.

  26. Paul, I appreciate your comments! And I am glad it helped to clarify things for you. I am also glad you have some pro-life leanings. (A subject for another post is the high user failure rate of contraceptives, as well as the fact that everywhere contraception is accepted, abortion follows. They are two sides of a coin, and as the Supreme Court has written, one is a back-up for the other.

    Lowly, I would call myself a political conservative, so my only beef with Republicans is that they have been major wimps lately, and they have spent almost as recklessly as the Democrats. Since we Catholics are free to disagree on policy issues (i.e., how best to serve the poor, how best to care for the sick, the proper role of government, etc., then I don't see anything in the Republican platform that is sinful for a Catholic to follow. Just my opinion, of course.

  27. There you go, opening a can of worms again! I love it when you do that!!!

    I agree 100% with this post and appreciate the clarity with which it was written! I especially appreciate the title. The implications of the title are that we're left with the Republican party. Yes there are 3rd parties, two of which I will vote for this November, but you do feel as though you are "wasting" your vote. But I swore after the last election that I would never vote for the lesser of two evils again, instead I would stand by my principles and make a statement in that regard. In any case, while there are frustrations on the Republican and third party side of voting, I could never, EVER, vote for a democrat.

    Lowly- I'm curious as to why you could not vote Republican as a Catholic? Is this a hard and fast rule or simply a basic feeling for you? Are you a free market kind of girl? I don't want to steal your thunder, Leila, but can I point Lowly to this post:

    Thanks for a fabulous post, Leila!

  28. Lauren, you can plug your blog any time here. :) I don't mind anyone doing that.

    Mai, you've inspired me to put another post in the queue: "Are Ecumenical Councils the same as 'voting about God'?"

    It may be a while till I get to it, but I hope it will clear things up for you when I do. Thanks for patience!

  29. Paul, I noticed that twice you wrote "stem cell research" and your full support of it. Just wanted to clarify that as Catholics, we fully and 100% support stem cell research, EXCEPT for embryonic stem cell research, which would require the intentional death of a living human being.
    And to this day, no disease has been cured using embryonic stem cells, and in fact, it can be a very risky (dangerous) treatment because the cells from embryos can become malignant. (Here is a quick Myth-Debunker site about embryonic stemm cell research:

    Mai, my example was merely to prove that there are indeed objective truths, which are "universally accepted," independent of any one person's (or group of people's) opinion about them.

  30. I just skimmed these comments and I realize I am being dumb. Why is that a common realization for me? :)

    I have voted republican. I don't think it is necessarily sinful to vote republican, but really only because it is the lesser of two evils. Republicanism creates and relies on plutarchic capatilism...which is bad bad bad. It is bad like socialism because in undermines the dignity of the human person.
    BUT Republicanism (currently) does not condone abortion, etc....therefore it puts it a step above the Democratic platform.

    So, I am sorry for implying that voting for republican was absolutely sinful.

    I'll do a little post on Distributism tomorrow...and maybe I'll post more about it in the future...I think the only reason why it isn't a real option in the polls right now is because more people don't know about it.

    Anyway, Leila...thanks for point out so clearly why voting Democrat is NOT an option. You are truly awesome.

  31. Mai, you wrote:

    the gay community says "Why should you care if I get married? How is your marriage affected if I am in a monogamous relationship with my partner?" And the conservative community says "My rights are trampled because if we allow YOU to do this, my children might do this (and then my children would be dead to me)."

    I don't recognize this as the conservative community's argument at all. I've never used that argument.

  32. lowly, under no circumstances would I ever associate you with the word "dumb" (unless you lost your voice). :)

  33. Mai, you also said:

    And one last thing, I disagree that in order to debate Christianity I must read Christian-sanctioned material. You say that the Church has debated these topics for millenia, and I read an historical account of some of the earliest of those debates (the "Voting about God" example)! How can that not be acceptable?

    So, in your first comment on this post you said that in Catholicism there is "no need to debate" and then later you mention that you have read about all the debates in the Church. That is why I am sometimes confused and want to ask for clarification. Do we Catholics debate and discuss or don't we debate and discuss?

  34. Gosh, Lowly. I have to admit, I've never heard of plutarchic capatilism. Can you tell me more?

  35. Leila, good point about the conservative argument against gay marriage. Mai, I, too, have never heard that argument used and have certainly never used it myself as a reason for not wanting to sanction gay marriage. Not only would I never say that last parenthetic statement EVER (my kids could commit every sin known to man and still never be "dead" to me... or, for that matter, to God), but I don't believe anyone views the sanctioning of gay marriage as a threat to the future homosexual union of their own children.

  36. Wowza...lots of comments here... I don't have time to read through them all...but I totally agree with your post Leila!

  37. I have decided to post in this discussion to pose a query about whether or not one may be religious privately but remove those considerations while acting publicly whether simply voting or acting as a representative of the people. In short, may one be a Democrat by being personally opposed to abortion while publicly acknowledging that others need not follow what one finds to be God's will? In essence internalizing the belief of separation between church and state.

    Before I go any further I feel it only appropriate to inform you that:

    1) I am an agnostic, and am not now nor have ever been a believer of Catholicism. I was once a protestant, specifically a Baptist in seminary before I became what I am now.
    2) That I deeply respect the sanctity of forums where individuals of the same faith wish to debate and solidify their own beliefs and if my posts are unwanted or disrespectful, please simply say so and I will no longer bother you with my questions.

    With that in mind I wish to humbly ask, may one be a Democrat because of their sincere beliefs in helping those in greater need and because one respects the precepts of a democracy where pluralism must be accepted; that publicly while certain acts such as abortion or euthanasia are things an individually may never condone for their loved ones or themselves they must allow others with differing belief systems to practice in their personal lives as they so chose?

    Thank you for the opportunity to make a posting on your site, and by all means feel free to remove my material if I have posted something that is beyond the site's purpose.

  38. Justin, welcome! Your question is a good one, and please don't hesitate to keep engaging us all here in the Bubble!

    The short answer to your question (if I'm reading it right) is that one cannot live his faith privately while supporting an agenda against his faith publicly. It's really a matter of integrity.

    A longer answer to the question is found here:

    One excerpt, in reference to those Catholics who hold public office:

    What line should an elected official draw between his faith and his political commitments?

    Elected officials should bring their faith to bear on all of their activities, including public affairs. In living out their faith, they should have a proper respect for the civil liberties of all people, including those of other faiths, or with no faith at all.

    It should be pointed out, however, that sometimes Catholic politicians mistakenly claim that they need to abandon their faith out of an obligation to respect those of differing opinions or to honor a political commitment inherent with their office. These claims are perhaps most frequently made when Catholic politicians claim to be personally opposed to the killing of innocent unborn children.

    Incredibly, it is somehow claimed by such people that it would be inappropriate to support legislation protecting human life because doing so would impose their faith on others or somehow violate their oath of office. These claims are ludicrous. Protecting human life is not only a religious imperative, it is a human imperative, and it is an imperative for all people.

    People of faith have every right to bring their beliefs into the public square just like anyone else. In fact, Catholic elected officials should always live out their faith while promoting the welfare of all, including the protection of innocent human life.

  39. Justin, here is another excerpt, which might speak more directly to the question you posed:

    • How do you respond to statements that Catholics should not impose their religious views upon others?

    Some Catholics and other believers have been frightened into silence and even confused by charges that they are imposing their morality on others. It is contended that a person's faith should have no impact on his or her public life. This leads the infamous “I am a Catholic but….” syndrome! Of course, if one's faith does not impact on one's whole life, including one's political and social responsibilities, then it is not authentic faith; it is a sham, a counterfeit.

    A democratic society needs the active participation of all its citizens, people of faith included. People of faith engage issues on the basis of what they believe, just as atheists engage issues on the basis of what they hold dear; they fight for what they think is right and oppose what they consider wrong. This is not an imposition on other's morality. It is acting with integrity. Moreover, people of genuine faith strengthen the whole moral fabric of a country. The active engagement of Catholics in democratic processes is good for society and it is responsible citizenship.

  40. What a way to start my day! I've had a great time reading all of the comments and thinking about each argument.

    Justin- the Catholic church is one of (if not the) the biggest supporters of social justice. I'm not saying that the Republican party toes the line with the teachings of the Church, but merely that the Democratic party, which supports doing away with the most innocent of our citizens and creating an environment where life is not valued from conception until natural death, cannot be counted on to provide anything resembling "justice" in the long run.

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  42. I'm glad to see there are some other people on here defending democrats, and making some very good points! I'm angry with the Dems right now but no how no way am I voting Republican.

    Here are my non-negotiables (just for the heck of it, I know they're no official or anything)

    1. healthcare for ALL. In fact, let's all have the same healthcare as congressmen and the president!

    2. taxes. Why does 1% of the population hold almost half the wealth? And why aren't they taxed more??? (thanks GW Bush)

    3. Environmental/social justice. What a coincidence that power plants, coal extraction, uranium extraction and other environmental disasters are usually perilously close to where marginalized, poor people live. Enough!

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  45. Actually the top 5% pay 53.25% of taxes.
    The bottom FIFTY percent pay less than 4%.

    So I agree. The system is totally unjust.

  46. Paul and Gwen, interesting stuff. My dear daughter's Sweet Sixteen party is today, so I'll comment as soon as I can.

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  49. Paul, couldn't stay out of this... TCIE is right to point out what she did. With embryonic stem cell research, not only is a human life being killed, but there are also no known benefits. So, she is disputing the utilitarian's argument as well as stating the pro-life objections.

    And, you can bet that embryonic stem cell research is all bound up in abortion politics. Because scientifically, all the momentum, all the cures, are coming from adult stem cells.

    Off to party! See ya!

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  51. Hi Paul, I normally stay away from debate, but I am interested in your last paragraph on your most recent comment: "but that knowledge is part of what makes life worth living." Well, to stick with the main argument...if a researcher is killing human embryos, (which yes, are human persons), as part of the normal course of doing the research, then the researchers have actually deemed that persons life not worth living. (I know you have not reached this same conclusion yet, but maybe there will be a time when we can agree that there is some research not worth doing. Just because we can do it, doesn't mean we should in every case.)

    As Archbishop Fulton Sheen frequently exclaimed "Life is worth living" and I think that should include all human life - from the tiniest embryo to our dear elderly and everyone in between.

  52. Paul, Leila already beat me to the punch in pointing out what I did why I did. Basically I realize that those who advocate abortion rights (not saying you personally, but anyone) has already set in their mind that an embryo is not a "person" worthy of rights. So, the main argument there, for me anyway, is obsolete for those with whom I would debate. Thus, I made the second point.

    And I'm intrigued by this paragraph of yours:

    "It's science. And it's worth learning more regardless of whether anything useful results. It should be funded for the sake of human curiosity. The world is an amazing place, and understanding more about biology will help us appreciate it at a deeper, richer level."

    I wonder if you might shed some light on what you think, morally, of the Nuremberg Trials. Should those Drs have been held accountable for "war crimes" for merely performing scientific experiments? I'm sure they were satisfying their human curiosity.

  53. I strive to be an educated Catholic voter. However, voting for a third party, if one exists that is more in line with Catholic ideals, seems to be a lesson in futility. Though I no longer live in Texas, I am a registered voter in Texas (Army perks). And, come hell or high water, Texas will vote Republican. I feel it is my duty as a citizen to vote, but I struggle with how much I can make a difference.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

  54. Paul, I have no idea what you said re: the contraception stats. I am not a mathematician, actuary, or statistician. If you can put that in layman's terms, it would help. :) :)

    As far as what the Pope said, it was backed up by a Harvard prof with no horse in the race. And, look at Uganda (the only African nation to make headway vs. AIDS) to see what really works.

    Basically, using condoms to fight AIDS is Russian Roulette. Not what I would advise to anyone I love.

    Besides, my point was about abortion being the logical back-up to contraception (which has a high user failure rate). As I said, even the Supreme Court recognized that we have ordered all our relationships around the availability of abortion, should contraception fail. More on that later, when I get to that post.

    Also, I'm a bit confused as to why you started talking about condoms, AIDS and STDs, as well as promiscuity rates, when I think we were talking about contraception being a precursor to abortion.

  55. Miss Gwen,

    1. Why not a house and a car for all, too? I would love that as much as you would, and I am being serious. How nice that would be. But, how do we do that in reality (not just in theory) without bankrupting the nation?

    2. I understand that liberals love taxes, and they like to pit rich against poor in some sort of oppression model. But let's say you tax the top earners at even 75%.... would it really make a dent and fund all the liberal projects? Or perhaps at some point the rich will just leave the country and take their productivity and jobs with them? Look at what happened in NY with the millionaire tax. People just left NY and went to other states. That didn't turn out too great for NY....It was a net loss.

    (BTW, speaking of class warfare, I don't think you ever commented on this post with my daughter's thoughts. I'd love to know what you think:

    3. Have you been to a coal plant? I have. I took a private tour with my small children in tow, and went right up to the gigantic furnaces and into the heart of the plant. Amazing! And clean as a whistle... Not a wisp of smoke coming out of the live stacks, and when we left hours later, our clothes, hair, skin, and car were totally free of coal dust. I was beyond impressed. Technology is an amazing thing. Clean coal is a good thing.

    I'm sure you recognize that if we don't get our cheap energy here in the US, then China and India will be happy to supply it to us and others, except that their plants will be dirty, causing much more damage to the environment. Plus, as even the Dems admit, all Americans (including the poor) will see their energy bills skyrocket as we go "green". So, we will have higher energy bills and a dirtier environment. Does that sound good to you? Liberal policies always sound good in theory, but are a disaster when applied to real life.

    Finally, I wonder if you are as upset about abortion clinics being placed strategically in poor and minority neighborhoods, as much as you are about energy plants?

    You know I love you. Let me know what you think. :)

  56. TX Army wife- I'm a military wife, too, registered in Texas. I will be voting 3rd party in two of the elections this year- governor and US congress rep. I doubt either one wins, and hate that, but feel I must vote my conscience and not just attempt to be pragmatic. I vowed I'd never do that again after voting for John McCain b/c I thought he could win. It is such a hard decision.

  57. Lauren, I agree that at least in the primaries we must vote for the candidate that is the closest to what we consider the ideal. But in the general election, a third party vote = a vote for the Dems, not in theory, but in practice. I can't in good conscience throw away my vote like that. I know we disagree.

    It's only my (very fallible) opinion, but being an independent is preferable to going with a third party, simply because in America, a third party is never going to be viable and only acts as a spoiler. That is so frustrating to me. As long as it's not immoral to vote for a particular candidate who is less awful, then I will always vote for the one who is able to defeat the liberal (usually the Democrat) in the race. I am very pragmatic, it's true. :)

  58. Leila,

    Hello, and thanks for this GREAT post. You hit the nail on the head. Both my brother and I have had similar political "conversions," when we woke up and realized that the Dems were so out of line with our faith (true confession: I interned for Steny Hoyer...yikes!). Since then I have likewise been searching (mostly passively) for the "mythical creature" you spoke of. Thought we might have found one in Stupak (a fellow KofC), but alas, he too had a price.

    Look forward to reading more, especially your thoughts on objective truth.

  59. One Man, thank you! I know... Stupak was a heartbreak. Steny Hoyer? Really? Ha!

    I would love if you would answer TCIE's question about Nuremberg and the idea of using humans beings (or embryos) to satisfy "human curiosity". That was a shocker for me to read.

    Also, regarding the "personhood" of the embryo (and whatever arbitrary line we draw to declare that "personhood" now exists), please read the post here, and leave a comment there if you would:


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  62. Leila, I just finished reading through your linked response to Christa. AWESOME, especially your comment about being "soulified." If I may offer a quick (or not-so-quick) thought for Paul and others who do not see any rationality in the Church’s teaching:

    Even if, hypothetically, we accepted that somehow that body of distinct DNA, blood type, etc., were not a human being from the moment of conception, but is at birth, the question that logically follows and demands an answer is, exactly at what point does that “transition” take place? How do we identify it? Would it be at X weeks in one case and Y weeks in another?

    Of course there is no consistent answer to this question; there are as many answers as there are “experts.” Basically, at that point, it comes down to human opinion (which, because of original sin, is horribly flawed and fallible). Theology aside for a second, that would leave a huge grey area as to whether or not it is the taking of human life, the place where we most can NOT afford for there to be a grey area. If this “soulification” after conception is somehow the case, then in one nanosecond, minute, hour, etc.—wherever that change takes place--a person goes from being a physician one instant to an inconceivably horrible murderer the next. I should think that we should want to identify that point without error and, if not able to, then err on the side of caution (i.e. treat life as though it begins at conception until it can be proved as certainly as the existence of gravity that such is not the case).

    The clarity, unambiguity, and consistency of the Church’s teaching on human life beginning at conception is so beautiful because, like everything its Author creates—including his laws—the bear his distinct marks of being true, good, and beautiful (and also clear, unambiguous and unchanging).

    Faith (belief that what He says is true—revealed to us through the Scripture and Tradition of His Church) always, without fail, precedes understanding.

  63. Hi One man. I prefer to position myself as pro-abortion instead of pro-choice. So I'm also pro-stem cell research. If you want to absolutely technical about it, I have no problem with the use of embryos stem cells to find cures for diseases like cancer. Not every egg needs to be fertilized and not every fertilized egg needs to become a person.

    Leila, I responded/answered your earlier comment on my blog


    I just saw this and thought I'd share.

    Gwen, maybe every baby doesn't need to become a toddler, either? And every toddler doesn't need to become a teen? Where on the continuum does a human life become "a person"? I know you said you are in some agreement with Singer, so your arbitrary line starts somewhere after birth?

    I do appreciate that you don't shy away from the "pro-abortion" label as so many abortion supporters, do. I like your integrity.

  65. Some people believe just what you've said, Leila. Why should every baby become a toddler? You should have at least 28 days to judge what the baby's quality of life will be, and if it's not positive, than smother baby with a pillow, says both Peter Singer and the following woman:

    (Warning- shocking)

  66. Lauren, isn't that horrendous? I posted that on Gwen's blog for comment...

  67. For the record Gwen, every Catholic here is for stem cell research --adult stem cell research (the kind responsible for many cures already. We are against embryonic stem cell research, which has netted zero cures (and lots of problems, some nightmarish, not to mention that it uses and destroys human beings for research material).

    I know you know the difference, but it gets a little frustrating when liberals never quite get around to making the distinction. There seems to be a game that the media especially love to play, in making it seem as if pro-lifers are against stem cell research altogether. They either do that to fool the populace into thinking the pro-life stance is "radical", or the media do not themselves have enough knowledge to make the distinction between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells (which would be journalistic malpractice in my mind.)

    As an honest liberal, Miss Gwen, I hope from now on you will always make the distinction. Thanks!

  68. Why do I always forget to close the parentheses???

  69. Oh, shoot, that's what happens when Leila posts too many times in a matter of days. I never see the responses to my questions!

    Paul, since I just saw your response about Nuremberg (or rather, Tuskegee), I am only now able to respond. I don't think you really answered the question. In retrospect, we can make lots of opinions about if things were "good" or "bad." Hindsight is 20/20. But unfortunately we don't have time machines and we have to be responsible people living in society. So, if you HAD been living at the time of what occurred at Tuskegee, would you have said that what those Drs were doing was wrong? Or, better still, put it in present time. If Drs today wanted to perform harmful (and even deadly) experiments on all of the men who work at your office (I'm just assuming you work somewhere, but you can fill in that blank with {your place of work}), to try to gain knowledge and fulfill their curiosity about science, would you object?
    (Forget about embryos for a second, I'm not making the quandry here.)

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  71. If only all Catholics would do their research on what it means to be Catholic. There are 67 million Catholics in America (according to baptismal certificates, certainly many attend Protestant churches because they HAVEN'T done their study of the early church fathers) and it takes 51 million people to elect an American president. Can you imagine what this country would look like if all Catholics lived out their faith truly and wonderfully?

  72. And wow, Ms. G...guess you got lucky your mom chose life.

  73. You do make some good points here, but that is also about party affiliation. It is hypothetical, but I suppose individual candidates for individual positions might be better... but just conjecture.

    I actually would like to see a rise in 3rd Parties. I believe the entrenched nature of the two parties is what allows them to abuse their bases on these kind of non-negotiable areas.

    Also, if a 3rd party were to begin to gain any real traction, the major parties would be forced to alter their platforms to recapture that segment of the electorate. So backing a 3rd Party that really fits your agenda could push the major party to make platform concessions in that area.


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