One of the great controversies of our times involves the juxtaposition of our constitutional rights, Christian faith and politics. Some say faith and politics should be segregated and separate in our lives. But, recently, an insert in the weekly bulletin of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Wilmington (www.iccwilm.org) reminded me of the connection between these activities and why it is important that we recognize it.
The Diocese of Raleigh prepared a guiding statement for Catholic voters: “Concerning Religious Liberty and Human Dignity.” Although I’m not a church member, I think that this guidance to faithful Catholics has wisdom that applies to all American citizens.
The Diocese counsels Catholics to be informed on the “issues of our day,” their church teachings and what positions and policies political candidates advocate relative to church principles. I agree that those best prepared to vote wisely, should base judgment on moral principles, be informed of the issues and know where the candidates stand.
Diocese writers explain “The Nature of our Freedom.” They observe that Catholic faithful participate not only in private worship, but also simultaneously as “citizens of this great nation.” God-given “foundational gifts” of human dignity and freedom provide that right. “Our exercise of this freedom naturally inserts us into the public square,” they write.
These thoughts hark back to The Declaration of Independence: that we assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle (us)….” And the self-evident truth that we “are endowed by (our) Creator with certain unalienable Rights….” Further, that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” It’s implied that citizens, regardless of faith, are obliged to participate.
Finally, the Diocese page illustrates a current threat to religious liberty: “The freedom to exercise these beliefs has been removed by our federal government in the recent Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate, which requires all private health plans to include abortion.” Cardinal Dolan wrote: “Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This should not happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.”
Statist legislators and federal officials have wedged the law between the marketplace and citizens, and violate our rights. They coercively meddle in our private lives. Those of us who value our Constitution as the guiding political document for our nation should stand with the principles of liberty the Catholic Church now fights for—regardless of our religious beliefs.
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