Religion and Politics

Predictably, Josh’s criticism of Madison Bishop Robert Morlino’s decision to dismiss Ruth Kolpack – and his distaste for mixing religion and politics – has caused controversy among my readers.  This is fine – they are free to express their opinion, and if anyone wishes to pen a response, I can put it up on the front page.I had intended to write this rebuttal yesterday, but got distracted. So, here’s my view of the situation:

The first issue that Josh addressed was Kolpack’s firing. Though it is certainly unfortunate when someone loses their job, Bishop Morlino has a duty, as a leader within the local Archdiocese, to defend Catholic doctrine as laid out by the Pope and the historical rules of the Catholic church. At the present time, those rules are against women in the Priesthood. By challenging that doctrine, Ruth Kolpack opened herself up to the consequences.

Now, if Bishop Morlino is, indeed, applying such action unfairly, that is, allowing others guilty of similar offenses to remain at their posts, than Josh may have a point – but only that there are others who deserve to be reprimanded.

The second issue Josh addressed related to exactly how active a role religion should play in public policy. His view, and its a valid one, is that religion is intended to cater to the religious needs of humans, while Government is intended to meet their civic and public policy needs. But is it that clear-cut? I don’t think so. Firstly, many issues blur the line between faith, morals, and politics – Gay Marriage, Abortion, Stem Cell Research, and many other issues are important social questions, as well as major moral and religious questions. Secondly, mixing the two is probably inevitable – most people vote according to their own beliefs, which are often heavily centered in their moral and religious views.

Why should we not expect Churches to offer guidance on such issues? I don’t like the idea that Planned Parenthood is allowed to lobby for more abortions while the church on the corner that is tied far more closely with the community can get into trouble for even mentioning political candidates. This does not mean we need a theocracy, or state control of religion, but places of worship should definitely be allowed to offer a moral compass to followers on public issues. Exactly what those followers do with that information is up to them.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Religion and Politics

  1. Del

    There is a critical reason why “Freedom of Speech” and “Freedom of Religion” are both part of the 1st Amendment: They are the same crucial freedom.

    We don’t want the Catholic Church to order the laws of this nation, as a theocracy. But we MUST have the freedom for Catholic Bishops to speak to Catholic citizens about moral issues before the electorate. If Catholic bishops are not free to speak about abortion, gay marriage, healthcare, welfare and immigration — then none of us can hold on to the right to speak about anything.

    Some fear that if the Bishops speak out, they might be effective at it. That is precisely why the freedoms of speech and religion must be defended.

    There is a name for the condition in which religious leaders are muzzled, and only secular zealots are permitted to heard. This is called “persecution.”

  2. Matt’s response to my first point about the firing is a little hard to respond as we are close to getting to the point where we agree to disagree. I would just say that this sets the precedent for the purging of anyone with these views.

    The second point Matt makes is that faith and politics can often intersect. Thats correct. My problem is that any issue can be informed by religion. As evidenced by Del’s comment. Add War, the economy, size of Government, many would say that their Religion demands whatever course of action. Its a slippery slope to be avoided

  3. I’m not so sure about that. You are right that you could easily include other issues – in fact, the original draft of this post included mentions of both war and welfare.

    But the idea of completely dividing Religion and Politics – public policy from personal views – doesn’t that leave us as an atheist/secular society with no real moral guide – is that really the way we want our country run?

    Anyway, Alex Knepper has done me the favor of bringing up both the religion question AND a Romney quote – so it looks like that is what you can expect to hear about tmrw.

  4. corep

    Matt,
    I actually think alot of us Romney and LDS people are pretty done for a while with Alex Knepper, Kris Lorelli and Kavon’s website.
    They just dont get that we are all guaranteed a right to believe as we like. Also the founders envisioned a nation that was guided by a moral compass but not with a state religion as you say. too bad so many secularists seem to be holding sway at this time

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