Catholicism influencing U.S. Public Policy

This is an off shoot of a discussion in Evangelization. The question raised there is “Why do they hate the faith so very much?”

Realist proposed Catholicism is hated by some because of the child-abuse scandal and because Catholicism opposes gay marriage.

jmcrae noted no one hates the Boy Scouts even though they have a greater problem of pedophelia, and that other Christian denominations as well as Islam, Hinduism and other family-oriented religions also oppose gay marriage.

to which Realist responded:

Not wanting to take the original thread off-topic I have started this thread in Social Justice to challenge the statement that Catholicism has influence in the U.S. to ‘push their agenda’ via public policy.

Catholicism teaches her flock the ways of Christ.
Islam teaches its flock the ways of Mohammed.
Buddism teaches its flock the ways of Buddah.
As an organization they don’t get involved in U.S. policy.

Individuals within the organization exercise their rights as citizens of the U.S. to voice their personal support or objections of proposed or current legislation. This is not the religion itself pushing an agenda.

Individuals in positions to influence U.S. policy tend to separate their personal beliefs from their professional ones. Just look at all the congressmen who have proposed and supported legislation which is expressly against the teachings of Catholisim, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity in general.

I disagree. The Catholic Church has absolutely involved itself in public policy. In fact, I have seen PDFs the church has circulated prior to elections informing its members what issues are important to the church and how one should vote on these issues (though it should be noted that these pamphlets do not specify who one should or should not vote for).

For me, that’s definitive proof that the church has involved itself in the affairs of government. But you’re free to disagree with me, of course, though I can’t imagine what your argument might be.

It seems to me that your argument right now is mostly semantical. A religion can’t actually involve itself in public policy, you’re right. Because a religion can’t technically do anything. But the members of a religion can. And frankly that’s the point I was trying to make in the previous thread. The people who hate the Catholic faith are afraid of the organization of its members and the influence that they have collectively. If the church releases a pamphlet saying members are free to vote however they want, but that voting against, say, a pro-life ammendment goes against the teachings of their faith, I would say that’s absolutely an attempt to affect public policy.

This is not the only example out there, but it does give creedence to my argument:

agnusdaily.com/politics/38-liberalism/49-vatican-official-simplifies-voting-guidlelines-for-american-catholics

For those unwilling to follow an outside link, this is a news story about a Vatican official, The Most Reverend Ronald Talinger, who published a voting guide for the 2008 election. Here is the introduction to that guide:

“The Purpose of this guide is to help those Catholics that are unsure of their responsibility in voting in the upcoming United States election. Catholics are bound by moral obligation to vote for the candidate that best defends issues that pertain to the sanctity of life. Because of the confusion brought about by various political officials, it has become harder for Catholics to know which candidate to vote for. That is why we have developed this simple guide that will assist you in making a decision in the upcoming 2008 election.”

Do you still think the Catholic Church doesn’t involve itself in public policy?

The Church has repeatedly acknowledged that she cannot and must not take the place of the state; history supports that. However, the Church has every right and obligation to inform her members on issues that concern her: abortion, ESSR, gay marriage, human cloning, etc. I have a question. Why do the same people who say the Church should absolutely stay out of the civil area then turn around and blast Pope Pius XII for leading the Vatican in an official stance of neutrality during WWII? (I don’t want to discuss his involvement, there are plenty of other forums for that).

To have absolutely no Church involvement in social issues was not on the founding fathers’ mind; many states before and after the ratification of the Constitution had official churches. They intended to keep the **government **out of the Church. An example of this protection being violated was the attempt in Connecticut to pass a bill which would have put Church finances out of Church hands; thankfully it was shot down.

I recommend Archbishop Chaput’s new book Render Unto Ceasar.

I take no such stance, judechild. In fact, if I were part of such a large interest group like the Catholic Church, I, too, would try to affect public policy.

I think that this question is an excellent example of what labels can do to make divisive, red herring. misleading types of considerations come to our minds as if they had any actual relevance. What I mean is that the qualities that we need to foster to do anything from conduct society to gain salvation, whatever form of those one believes in, are in fact independent from religion as is electricity or gravity. Thirsty people need water, not a dogma. Cars run on the laws of physics, not philosophy. So the question of a particular group influencing a government which is another group made of groups, all artificial and self serving, is irrelevant.

What is more relevant is the destruction of ignorance and special commercial interest. What is relevant is the gaining of personal maturity in the face of fear, greed, and in many cases, a pre-agrarian understanding of the world we live in. What is relevant is an intimate working knowledge of Universal principles as they apply to what is universally common in Man, despite the parochial traditions which, though at one time necessary for survival, are now counter productive in the extreme.

In this regard the unexamined traditions and beliefs of any particular belief group, religious or secular, are dangerous to the common good. If we accept that ALL men are the children of ONE God, even if many don’t, then we have to look at a level of understanding that is fundamental to the nature of our own awareness. That means we have to look at the container that holds our beliefs. Beliefs are contents made necessary by the exigencies of our growing up under special circumstances. They are very much like software programed in so that you can live successfully in your particular milieu.They are now carrying over from realms that were at one time only local to some degree or other, say “the Mediterranean world.” Now we have to deal with the fact of even one person saying something in one place having an effect ON THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF THE PLANET. It is no longer sufficient to use paradigms that are* local *to solve issues that are global. Our country being in the position it is, that certainly applies to our government as well.

It was necessary to translate “Lamb of God” to “Seal pup of God” when going from Aramaic through Latin, Greek, and English, each of which having its peculiar grammatical filter on the world, to Inuit, which has no referents to many things we take for granted. What did they do with “fig tree?” I don’t recall. But the point is, we are crashing our many cultures, and the paradigms of one small group cannot encompass the needs of the whole. We have to go to something pre-existing.

Since humans are older than any of their religions, those traits inherent in man must be God given by the arguments of theists, I would think. So what are those? Love? Awareness? The feeling of there being something invisible yet greater? I know for myself what those might be, but I think that as a people who need to be far more conscious of the entirety of our *actual *situation, we need to get over ourselves as believers, and do something practical before we all kill our world with our own filth. And PLEASE don’t tell me that Jesus is coming to fix it all, or take you away from all this. Please do tell me what is common between 100 random people (children of God, if you will) from all over the globe who are in one room and who will not necessarily respond to “You need Jesus.” Or Buddha, or whomever. What is inherent within each one of us *before we acquire religion or any particular belief, or not *that is a common ground?

Informing its MEMBERS. That is NOT public policy. It’s directed at educating the faithful of God’s guidelines to keep in mind as they exercise their civic duties so that they do not risk their souls. God has indeed spoken quite clearly on many issues and he established the church to ensure future generations will know his ways.

It seems to me that your argument right now is mostly semantical. A religion can’t actually involve itself in public policy, you’re right. Because a religion can’t technically do anything. But the members of a religion can. And frankly that’s the point I was trying to make in the previous thread. The people who hate the Catholic faith are afraid of the organization of its members and the influence that they have collectively. If the church releases a pamphlet saying members are free to vote however they want, but that voting against, say, a pro-life ammendment goes against the teachings of their faith, I would say that’s absolutely an attempt to affect public policy.

There’s still a difference between individuals of a religion and the organization of that religion. The Catholic church, as an organization, weighs opinion on various matters because she is commissioned by Christ to do so.

As citizens of the U.S. the bishops of the USCCB have an obligation to tend to the catechesis for the faithful in the U.S. The faithful look to the USCCB to speak to government officials on their behalf in an attempt to represent their Catholic citizens’ voices on particular matters. The Church bears no authority over the governmental bodies so she does not affect public policy directly.

When the church teaches Christ’s position on matters of faith and morals to the faithful they cannot err. They are obliged by Christ to get the message out and they do that. The faithful are called to follow Christ’s teachings, but they don’t always do so. They have free will to heed the message or not, and the consequences for not is on their conscience. But if the bishops were NOT to put out the message then THEY would be held accountable by God for failing to fulfill their duty.

The thing is, jmcrae is still correct, in that the leaders of the other faiths also teach the same message to their faithful and they aren’t hated as much as Catholics are.

“Do unto others whatever you would have them do to you” Matthew 7:12

“Love one another” John 13:34

It’s wired into our nature because we are of God, made in his image, and God is love.

Those of us who go beyond what is inherent to learn more from established religions about our relationship to God and others, learn more about his plan for mankind. It is out of our love for our brothers and sisters that we warn them against taking actions which would offend God because we don’t want them to bear the consequences of such an action.

As a group of humans under a common governmental structure, we have a responsibility to work to ensure that the structure which guides all the members is as close to God’s guidelines as possible so that the nation will be blessed with prosperity.

GAHere, I don’t understand your perspective. Do you think the church has ethical qualms about involving itself in government? It clearly doesn’t. Nancy Pelosi, for instance, recently met with the Pope at the Vatican, where he instructed her on the teachings of her faith and what they say about the issues she legislates on as Speaker of the House. The church absolutely has its hand in the cookie jar.

You even went onto say: “As a group of humans under a common governmental structure, we have a responsibility to work to ensure that the structure which guides all the members is as close to God’s guidelines as possible so that the nation will be blessed with prosperity.”

So it’s every Catholic’s duty to affect public policy, yet the church somehow doesn’t affect it? Your argument makes no sense. And you’re wrong when you say that by informing its members that it isn’t affecting public policy. That’s exactly what it’s doing. If you looked at the pamphlet I linked to, you would see the church taking a heavy-handed approach in “informing” its members, implying that casting your vote for a certain candidate would be tantimount to sin. Though because this isn’t stated directly, the Vatican can deny this implication, which is obviously there. By making this connection, the Vatican is telling its members that there is a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote. If your argument is that the church doesn’t affect public policy because its leaders don’t physically fill out the ballots of its members or because it doesn’t actually craft legislation, then I’m fighting an impossible battle and you are being pointlessly semantic.

This is off-topic, but I’m going to respond to what you said about jmcrae being right about the hypocrisy of Catholic hate. You are taking this argument out of context. In the context of that thread, it didn’t matter if the reasons why some hate the Catholic faith are justified, it only mattered why they hate it. That’s all I have to say on this tangent. Stay focused.

The only jar the church has her hands in there is Speaker Pelosi’s.
It is the duty of the Church to instruct the faithful in God’s ways. The Pope is obliged to clearly lay out for Pelosi what Christ’s teachings are on the issues which lay before her. This is not to influence our nation’s policies, it’s to guide Pelosi in living her life according to Christ. As a Catholic she is obliged to reflect Christ in all she says and does. She freely promised to do so when she made her confirmation well before she took her oath of office. Whether or not she lives up to her confirmation promise is up to her.

You even went onto say: “As a group of humans under a common governmental structure, we have a responsibility to work to ensure that the structure which guides all the members is as close to God’s guidelines as possible so that the nation will be blessed with prosperity.”

So it’s every Catholic’s duty to affect public policy, yet the church somehow doesn’t affect it?

It’s every Catholic’s responsibility to fullfill their civic and spiritual duties while on this earth. As Americans we have the obligation to participate in elections. As Catholic Americans we have the obligation to exercise our voting rights according to Christ’s teachings. That’s not in order to change public policy, it’s in order to preserve our souls so that if we should get hit by the banana truck upon exiting the polls we could be assured we wouldn’t be damned to hell. It’s about the individual’s chance at everlasting life, not about changing U.S. government policy.

If you looked at the pamphlet I linked to, you would see the church taking a heavy-handed approach in “informing” its members, implying that casting your vote for a certain candidate would be tantimount to sin.

That’s because it would be tantimount to sin. You are disregarding the purpose of the christian life - to live as Christ on this earth so that we can live with him in heaven. I’m very familiar with the votiting guidelines. They spell out what Catholic teaching is on life and social issues so that we can be clear about what Christ expects of us. Whether or not we heed the church’s guidance is up to each Catholic, and the rewards/consequences of our decisions are ours alone.

By making this connection, the Vatican is telling its members that there is a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote.

Because there is when one is Catholic. You still look at us as human first, Catholic second, but that’s not the case. We are Catholic first, human second, because when we were baptized we died to our natural selves to be born again in Christ.

As a Catholic charged to represent Christ on earth we cannot, in good conscience, portray Christ as a baby-killer. Jesus would never ask a woman to abort her child, no matter what the circumstances. He would encourage her to trust in him and our father’s plan for her and her child. Thus, we, too, are called to respond the same way - in our actions, in our advice, in our own choices, and in our votes. Whether or not we do is up to us, just as the woman to whom Jesus spoke - she will leave him and decide whether or not to carry the child to term. He won’t force her to have the child. He won’t stop her from aborting it. But if she disregards his advice she couldn’t consider herself a Christian.

That’s what the church is making clear in those pamphlets - how to represent Christ when we exercise our right to vote.

This is off-topic, but I’m going to respond to what you said about jmcrae being right about the hypocrisy of Catholic hate. You are taking this argument out of context. In the context of that thread, it didn’t matter if the reasons why some hate the Catholic faith are justified, it only mattered why they hate it. That’s all I have to say on this tangent. Stay focused.

Yes, I do understand that point you were making.

The Catholic church and the Episcopalians both even sit in on the MPAA to rate films. It is claimed that they are only “observers” and given the church’s own rating system that may be so. But we are talking about at church that used to be in the position of being the right hand of nations, being inextricably part of their operation. And it is itself a political state whose leader makes pronouncements on the actions needed or done by governments and groups, as well as being active itself, even in the sciences. A good example of the latter might be the “Pope 'scope” in Arizona. Examples of the former abound.

So, though there may only be Catholics as members of different parts of our governments, it makes sense that, by extension, that religious influence is felt in policy making.* Yet they are also just one of many. Look at the influence atheist groups have on public policy in some instances. Or that of the Jewish faith. These are all special interest groups. And I care not a wit if some of them base their views on contrarian God beliefs or the lack thereof, they each contribute to the danger we now face of major upheaval. If they stuck to the two tenets put forth by GAHere, plus “know thyself,” it would be one thing. We could move ahead. But in fact the religious people are secular in their actions in more ways than one, in particular in attempting to promote agendas from their viewpoint, not of mankind as a whole.

Interesting video, thanks.
Explains why atheists don’t like religions, but it doesn’t explain why other religions hate on us so much.

The thing to remember, and I understand why it’s troublesome, is that our government is structured to represent the people and the goal is to be a forthright, upright nation, the best of the best, protecting personal freedoms, and so on and so forth. Because our government represents the people, the majority of any faith at any given stage of our nation’s history should be reflected in legislation.

It’s troublesome because of the majority rules aspect. I’m not so sure that was the intent of the founding fathers, but it appears to be the way it works. Catholicism was well regarded during Bishop Sheen’s time but the past 20 years or so has seen a swinging of the pendulum away from that and more toward Oprah philosophy. If Islam grows here as it has in Europe we may see another major shift in our future. Each group fights for truth to be represented in our laws, but each group’s ‘truths’ conflict.

The beauty of our governmental structure is that it does allow for such shifts. I suppose, then, that the Catholic faith is taking the brunt of the anger at this time because there are so many leaning toward the ‘live and let live’ philosophy.

GAHere, you appear to have a very good understanding of ideals and a very naive understanding of how our government works and for whom.

I submit for your consideration:

storyofstuff.com/ ,
The Death of Common Sense: how law is suffocating America, by Philip K. Howard, *Coming Dark Age *by Jane Jacobs,
Plan Cby Pat Murphy or communitysolution.org/plancbook.html miniature-earth.com/

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