Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of mail from the Republican National Committee. They’ve been trying to “engage” me, find out what makes me tick, where I stand on issues, how I feel about candidates. Most importantly, they’d like to find out how to get me into the polls this fall. It all goes back to two years ago, when I received an urgent letter from the RNC telling me they noticed I had not registered to vote. Please fill out this registration form and mail it in ASAP, they said. Your party needs you!
I didn’t do it.
Scott was horribly sore with me about it. He loves to get into all of the political madness. I know it’s my civic responsibility, but I’ve been so disillusioned with the world of politics, I find it hard to care. When I look at Washington, all I see is corruption and politicians trading favors to get reelected. At some point, I just decided that none of them were worth my time and opted out. My political stance has been refusal to participate. “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,” right?
During a presidential election year, however, it’s impossible not to get sucked in to the occasional political discord. It’s like trying to avoid the 110° heat. It’s all around me as soon as I step outside the house. However, as election day draws nearer, I’m starting to feel ill at ease with opting out. The thing I hear over and over again that causes me concern is “You can’t bring your religious beliefs into politics.”
Let me make this clear: I am a Catholic. My faith isn’t just part of who I am, it is who I am. I do what I do based on my values, which grow from my faith. I don’t have a set of values for Sunday and another for Monday through Saturday. I believe what I believe everyday. It would be impossible for me to separate myself from my faith.
Looking for a little direction, I sat down and watched a 2008 episode of EWTN Bookmark, in which Archbishop Charles J. Chaput discusses his book, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life. Archbishop Chaput pretty much knocked the wind out of my “opting out of politics policy,” by stressing that not choosing is making a choice. He also emphasizes that as Catholics, we are Catholic first and party loyalties come second. “Party loyalty is a dead end. It’s a lethal form of laziness. Issues matter. Character matters.”
The Second Vatican Council agrees in Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. “…. The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both are devoted to the personal vocation of man, though under different titles . . . [yet] at all times and in all places, the Church should have the true freedom to teach the faith, to proclaim its teaching about society, to carry out its task among men without hindrance, and to pass moral judgment even in matters relating to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it”
By not exercising my right to vote, I am essentially sitting down, rather than standing for what I believe, and for those who need someone else to stand for them. It is my duty as an American citizen to vote, and my duty as a Catholic to vote for the candidates who best represent the values of the Church. Some people say that voting based on your faith is forcing your beliefs on someone else. The truth of the matter is that the alternative is having someone else’s beliefs forced on you.
“Any notion of tolerance that tries to reduce faith to a private idiosyncrasy, or a set of opinions that we can indulge at home but need to be quiet about in public will always fail. As a friend once said, it’s like asking a married man to act single in public. He can certainly do that–but he won’t stay married very long.” –Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
I guess I’d better start researching and get registered. Not because my party needs me, but because my Church needs me.