An open letter to our fellow Catholics on Election Eve
posted at 12:15 pm on November 3, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Our Faith Begins At Life
by Edward Morrissey and Elizabeth “The Anchoress” Scalia
Many of our Catholic friends support Barack Obama in the upcoming election, despite being the most radically pro-abortion presidential candidate in American history. Other Catholics have publicly declared support for Obama as Catholics, arguing that their faith leads them to choose Obama over the pro-life candidate, John McCain. We believe that they have overlooked in their arguments of “social justice” the foundation of our faith and of social justice: the sanctity of human life, and its origin.
It is not our intent to argue legalistically from the Catechism to our brethren. We have both covered that extensively in posts over the last few months. We want to remind our parishioners of the central fact that social justice has to start with the protection of innocent human life, and that our faith does not allow a trade between abortion and other social-justice policies.
A few months ago Doug Kmiec, a former official with the Reagan administration and prominent Catholic, made a public endorsement of Barack Obama and stated that Obama’s noble intentions on a full range of social issues made the Senator’s stance on abortion negligible. As Obama addressed every injustice, righted every wrong and wiped the tear from every eye, Kmiec seemed to reason, all of the complex social ills of the ages, from poverty, to war, to the death penalty and human rights would be suitably resolved and abortion would simply fall by the wayside as an issue.
Except, Obama has said himself that his very first act as President will not be some sweeping anti-poverty legislation; it will not be an end to war. “The first thing I’d do as president” Obama told NARAL, “is sign the Freedom of Choice Act“.
Kmiec’s argument might sound compelling to some – Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput admits to having reasoned similarly about Jimmy Carter in 1976 – until one considers Obama’s priorities. Under the heading of “human rights” Obama has made it clear – despite suggesting that the question of when a baby gets human rights as being “above” his “paygrade” – that in his mind a “woman’s right to choose” is a most basic human right; a singular priority. So passionately does Obama believe this that the Senator, who rates a perfect 100% with NARAL, unhesitatingly supports the procedure known as “partial birth abortion,” – an act so nakedly inhumane that his own running mate voted to ban it in 2003. And beyond that savagery, Obama has clearly articulated his position that a baby born alive during an attempted abortion should be refused medical attention.
Logically, then, a President Obama – whose presidency, we are told, will usher in a heyday for fundamental human rights – will always support abortion, even at its most extreme, even when its very definition changes to infanticide. We have already seen Obama protect infanticide in a disturbing attempt to protect abortion in Illinois, and nothing he has said since shows any change of heart on this question.
The “abortion reduction agenda” which Obama mush-mouths and others, like Kmiec, seem to interpret as they wish, is a kind of “trickle down social economics:” once poverty is eradicated – presumably through higher taxes, higher energy prices, higher unemployment and the redistribution of wealth – once all of the priorities of war, famine, capitalism and injustice are taken care of (this would include absolutely ensuring “a woman’s right to choose” in any circumstance) and all the complex and messy matters of humanity have been sufficiently resolved, well, then the abortion issue will simply melt away.
Excuse us, but we see this as nothing more than fantasy – the mirror image, in fact, of another fantasy, one that holds that a reversal of Roe v. Wade will simply “solve the problem” of abortion. In each case, the fiction is misplaced because it refuses to look at the human heart. President Bush said in 2005, “a true culture of life cannot be sustained solely by changing laws. We need most of all, to change hearts.” He was given grief for that by some pro-lifers, but he was quite correct. Abortion has always existed, and it will always exist, as long as something remains broken within the human heart.
Even beyond this, though, consider why the Church supports social-justice issues. Our faith does not emphasize fighting poverty and oppression as mere Boy Scout merit badges, or to give Catholics something to do on the weekends. The emphasis on social justice springs from the foundational belief that all human life is sacred, anointed by God for His purposes, and not ours. The need for social justice is for us to recognize the spark of divinity in all of us.
What does abortion says about human life? It reduces it to commodity, and values it based on convenience. If that is what we think about human life, then that rejects the entire idea that God created humankind at all, let alone for any divine purpose. Without that fundamental understanding of the faith, then all kinds of horrors become possible — abortion, euthanasia, genocide on massive scales, war for acquisition, and the exploitation of the poor.
Why care about the poor if humans have no divine purpose? If we can kill millions of our offspring without a second thought, why not leave the poor to their own devices? Abortion represents the ultimate rejection of God and God’s plan.
And bear in mind that Barack Obama is no moderate on abortion. The FOCA will federalize the question of abortion with the specific intent of striking down every moderating state law concerning abortion: parental notification, waiting periods, term limitations, and information requirements will end with its passage. It will also re-impose federal subsidies of abortions by repealing the Hyde Amendment, forcing taxpayers — including Catholics — to pay for the abortions of others.
The question, then, boils down to one of reason: does your reason tell you that Sen. Barack Obama – a mere human being with a thin resume and a seeming propensity for shutting down, punishing, intimidating or otherwise harassing those who do not fall in line (through the force of government, if possible) – is going to heal the human heart through his social programs and his redistributionism?
Matters of the heart are never resolved through worldly machinations. More importantly, to expect a human man – who because he is human carries within him another broken, imperfect heart – to successfully, righteously and most of all disinterestedly resolve issues which have tested mankind for thousands of years is to assign onto him inhuman abilities; this smacks of idolatry and thus flies in the first and most fundamental priority of a believer: to have no gods before the One, the Creator.
Catholicism does not reject reason for faith but demands integration of the two, and prayerful discernment, before taking any action.
One’s vote should come after weighing reason.
Reason tells us that a human fetus is a human being and as such deserves inclusion into the whole notion of “human rights.” A candidate with consistent notions of human rights should be able to acknowledge that.
Reason tells us that an “abortion reduction agenda” is inconsistent with the stated priority of signing into law a sweeping, tax-payer funded abortion-rights legislation.
Reason insists that an ideology embracing the idea of genocide – whether that means eliminating people conceived with an extra chromosome or of wiping a sovereign nation off the map – is a warped ideology that is inconsistent with a commitment to human rights. Reason wonders why an electorate is not permitted to hear what a presumptive president might say to some such ideologues, and reason becomes very uncomfortable.
Reason tells us that one human man will not eradicate poverty. One human man will not eradicate war. One human man will not distribute justice to the nations. History is pockmarked with the graves of those slaughtered to the ambitions of human men who have tried to perfect and justify the world, according to their lights.
Barack Obama – inconsistent though he be – is no Hitler, or a Stalin or a Pol Pot. However, developing a fanciful notion of Obama’s ability to do and be more than man has ever done or been before – based on nothing more than a bit of charisma and an highly overprotective press – is to surrender, rather than apply, one’s use of reason.
Tomorrow is Election Day. By all means, each of us must vote for the candidates we believe will best serve the nation. ACORN aside, you only get one vote. Before your pull the lever, take some time to consider whether you have really applied your God-given gift of reason to it. And as Catholics, consider carefully which candidate best fits within our view of human life and God’s purpose for it.