Tube City Almanac

October 15, 2004

And Yet Another Tiresome Rant

Category: default || By jt3y

They say you should never discuss religion or politics in polite company.

I've never been accused of being overly polite. Here comes one of my political rants; skip to the end if you don't want to read it.

On the front page of Wednesday's Daily News was this Associated Press story with a Washington, D.C., dateline:

A political guide is urging Catholics to vote against candidates who support abortion rights, stem-cell research and other "evil" issues --- an appeal that could undercut Democratic Sen. John Kerry's candidacy.

Catholic Answers, an independent group based in El Cajon, Calif., expects to distribute 3 million copies of its "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" nationally by the end of the month. The guide urges Catholic voters to disavow candidates who support euthanasia, human cloning and gay marriage. The guide also was published Tuesday in a full-page newspaper ad in USA Today. ...

Karl Keating, president of Catholic Answers, said his nonprofit group is not backing any particular candidate or political party. "Our purpose is to get the Catholic moral principles out, and we leave it up to the individual reader to apply them, we hope, at every level of government," Keating said. "But we're definitely not endorsing or disendorsing any candidate."

Ahem. An aside here: "Disendorsing?"

But the principles are aligned with Bush's political stands --- and against most of Kerry's. As a Catholic, Kerry opposes abortion but says he can't support denying a legal right to others. And while the Democrat opposes gay marriage, he has criticized Bush's effort to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex unions.

I make no attempt to hide the fact that I'm a practicing Catholic, though far from perfect (that's why I'm practicing, ha ha ha), and definitely no Charlie Church. But this whole attempt to paint Yawn Kerry as some kind of hypocrite --- or in this case "evil" --- is, in the words of the movie reviews that used to run in the Pittsburgh Catholic, "morally offensive."

Unless we intend to turn the United States government into a theocracy --- and don't worry, some people would like to --- we are unlikely to ever get a government whose leaders shape every policy to fit their own religious beliefs. Nor would I want one.

As a Catholic, I frankly don't want a Southern Baptist like Al Gore telling me what is, and isn't, moral. Nor do I think many Southern Baptists want me impressing my morality on them.

What astonishes me about Catholics who are angry at Kerry and are embracing Bush is that they seem to be falling in line behind the President solely on the basis of two issues: abortion and gay marriage.

Yes, the Vatican has spoken out strongly against both abortion and gay marriage.

But guess what the Vatican and the Catholic Church are also strongly against? Capital punishment.

Guess which Governor of Texas signed 152 death warrants --- more than any other governor of any state in modern history? And who executed mentally-ill prisoners? And who rejected appeals from Pope John Paul II and other clergymen to spare the lives of some prisoners, including those who had reformed and devoted their lives to Christianity?

Hint, hint: His middle initial is "W."

OK, more guessing games, because this is fun. Guess what the Catholic Church says about pre-emptive war?

Catholic social teaching has long advocated a more integrated international system to serve the cause of human rights, to reduce war between and within states and to help transform political and economic interdependence into moral solidarity that reflects the common good. At this moment in history, we wish to affirm the positive duty of political leaders and citizens to support the development, reform and restructuring of regional and global political and legal institutions, especially the United Nations. The United Nations should be at the center of the new international order. ... Effective multilateral institutions can relieve the United States of the burden, or the temptation, of becoming by itself the world's police force.

No fair peekin' on this next question: The Bush Administration "intends to produce," in the words of the San Jose Mercury News, new tactical nuclear weapons for use against non-nuclear countries. Gee, I wonder, what does the Catholic Church say about that?

We must continue to say No to the very idea of nuclear war. A minimal nuclear deterrent may be justified only to deter the use of nuclear weapons. The United States should commit itself never to use nuclear weapons first, should unequivocally reject proposals to use nuclear weapons to deter any nonnuclear threats, and should reinforce the fragile barrier against the use of these weapons. Indeed, we abhor any use of nuclear weapons.

Why is it that conservative Catholics only care about "protecting life" when it's the lives of the unborn? Aren't the lives of, say, actual people who have already been born just as important? If Kerry's failure to be anti-abortion and anti-stem cell research is "evil," then Bush's failure to be anti-death penalty and anti-nuclear weapons should be just as equally "evil" to most thinking Catholics.

And yet it's only Kerry who gets hammered by conservative Catholics. Huh.

Could it be that issues like the death penalty and nuclear weapons aren't exactly black and white? Perhaps.

Wouldn't it stand to reason that issues like abortion and stem cell research also are not exactly black and white? Get a group of theologians and clergy of different faiths --- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu --- into a room and ask them, for instance, if life begins at conception. It's not a universally accepted doctrine.

Kerry has been accused of dissembling on some of his answers during the three presidential debates, and he did, but I found his response to a question about his faith to be remarkably like my own feelings:

My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There's a great passage of the Bible that says, What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead.

And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.

That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth.

That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.

Kerry, by the way, was quoting the Epistle of James, 2:14-26.

Bush certainly talks about his faith a lot. But I'm starting to wonder which candidate is actually putting their faith in action, and also exactly which one is the "compassionate conservative."

I know that the President has the second part of "compassionate conservative" down pat, but I'm not so sure about the first part.


I stumbled over this story about Idora Park by former co-worker, Lucky Strike smoker, Trib staff writer and Y-town native Vince Guerreri. The story's a real treat. I never made it to Idora Park, but it sure sounds a lot like Rainbow Gardens.

Which come to think of it, I never got to see, either.


As you might imagine, many, many people in the media are breaking out with nasty red welts of Schadenfreude over Bill O'Reilly's little problem. Over at "Sweet Jesus, I Hate Bill O'Reilly International," they're practically wetting their pants with insane glee.

And from the people who brought you "Outfoxed" comes "The O'Sexxxy Factor", about you-know-who. (You need to have Quicktime or be a Mac-using hippie to view it, apparently.)

Oh, Mr. O'Reilly? There's a bunch of people here with your petard. They'd like to hoist you with it.


To Do This Weekend: McKeesport Area School District hosts an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow at the new "Founders' Hall" and technology facilities at the newly-remodeled and expanded "Voke," on the campus of McKeesport Area High School, Eden Park Boulevard. A ribbon-cutting will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow, and bus transportation to the campus will be available from all parts of the school district, beginning at 9:22 a.m. Call 412-664-3762 or visit the district's Web site.

Also, the Rolling to Overcome Poverty Bus Tour rolls into St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Downtown, with a prayer breakfast at 8 a.m. Sunday. Call 412-672-8490 or email ghmason at webtv dot net. (Information via Rauterkus.)

Your Comments are Welcome!

This O’Reilly business will be interesting to watch. Remember, HE filed suit first. So, did he engage in the behavior claimed, or is she trying to hoist his petard without a rope? I’m sure this one will be tried, fairly or unfairly, in the “elite media” O’Reilly despises so much.

And re: Kerry, Catholics, etc. did you happen to catch the 700 Club the other day? (I’m sure you didn’t, but…) They featured a book by some conservative author and showed a page with the line “Is it a sin to vote for a Democrat? The answer is, probably yes…” and the piece went predictably downhill from there.

I’m pretty conservative, but even for me, that went beyond the pale.
Alert Reader - October 16, 2004

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