Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Pulpit and Politics: Keeping it Real and Thinking for Myself

This post might upset a few people, be forewarned.
While trolling Facebook I read a post I fact checked, because I was relatively sure the headline was misleading.
Pope Francis is a pretty smart and clever authority and great PR for today's Roman Catholic church. I am grateful he has not publicly endorsed a specific candidate. Church is not the place for politics and politics is no place for religious doctrine.
Included in this link above there is a recorded homily given by Father John Lankeit where he informs the congregation of their duty as Catholics to vote pro-life.
I listened to the entire homily. I encourage you to listen. He very carefully walked a fine line of not suggesting a specific candidate or party by name.
The Church enjoys a certain tax status with the understanding of a clear separation of church and state. However I have had more than a few 'animated' discussions with my parish priests in the past during election times regarding the appropriate placement of political agenda during a time of worship that has been designed to enhance and explain the scripture that has just been presented. On one occasion I was irate that our pastor stationed people handing out sample ballots of specific candidates to vote for as we entered church for Sunday Mass. On another occasion the homily segued directly to the issue of abortion and birth control and since that's day's gospel had nothing to do with either of those issues, I gathered my children and left. At the time of my somewhat public exit in the middle of the mass, they were mortified. I said to them, "Church doesn't tell the state what to do and the state doesn't tell the church what to do." Today as grown women with children of their own, they understand better my frustration and irritation.
America is a great democracy because a political platform is no place for the platform of specific church doctrine, which has been crafted by male mostly celibate clerics, albeit by the spiritual guidance of God, whom they serve in His name. In my humble opinion the pulpit is not the place to direct a person's vote for a civil government position. That is how a theocracy takes hold.
Furthermore, the word "abortion" has not been diluted, as the Rev. Lankeit states. It is and remains a volatile and emotionally charged issue that unfortunately has been cavalierly tossed about many political candidates to suit the tenets of their platforms at the time. Those platforms seem capricious compared to the angst of someone seeking spiritual forgiveness for something they believe has made them fall from the grace of God.
I found this priest's argument/homily articulate, very carefully worded, but there is still the threat of eternal damnation if one doesn't follow the very strong suggestion of the church and which way your vote should be cast. I think that is wrong.
In high school I attended Little Flower Catholic High School for girls, from the late '60's to 1972. It was a time of the so-called sexual revolution when views about sex outside of marriage and birth control changed radically. At least they did outside the confines of Sunday Mass and religion class for us Catholic girls. We found ourselves being taught by women of a variety of age groups, some who wrestled with their own personal opinions and what the diocese directed them to teach about sex and birth control. Abortion was never discussed, not even as a sin. I also don't recall any threat of my soul being eternally damned if I succumbed to the temptation of sex outside of marriage or use birth control. WHEW! At least that is how I remember it.
Vividly, I remember one of my teachers, a nun who taught biology, actually ending a string of classes that held energizing conversations about self-respect, pre-marital sex and avoiding STD's and health advantages of using birth control with this statement, "As a Religious, I am not permitted to discuss this with you young women any further in an academic capacity." She was removed from teaching in that school the following semester.
I was raised and educated in the Roman Catholic faith. I enjoy the ceremony of mass, especially with engaging homilies that expand on the scripture and music that enhances the liturgy of the Mass. I am also a woman of independent thinking that gained some of that independent thinking through my education. The rest of that independent thinking is ingrained in my DNA. Thanks, Mom and Dad.
There are many issues that drive a highly charged political campaign. Focusing on issues that are already the law of the land is no promise of getting anything more necessary accomplished. Threatening my soul to eternal damnation should I cast my vote against Church doctrine gives me no pause.
I am confident I will be in the company of like-minded independent thinkers.


  1. Joanne, I loved this blog because I feel that church and state should remain totally separate. I did a review on a film recently called "The Devils" for BBP where it shows what can happen when you join the two. I am sharing this blog on all my media sites