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Election is not an easy choice Print
Guest column
Written by Randy Henderson   
Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 -- 12:00 AM

As Catholics we face many complex questions and challenges in regards to being involved in public and political life.  We face similar questions and challenges in selecting a candidate.

Guest Column

I had the pleasure of attending a Theology On Tap in which Thomas Peters, an extremely articulate and funny Internet-journalist, worked hard to sell that McCain is the best choice for Catholics.  His argument was that the abortion issue encapsulates and trumps all other life issues. If you get the abortion issue wrong, how can you be an advocate for life in its later stages? This seems on the onset like a salient point.

What are these other “life issues” that might motivate a Catholic voter to either pick Barack Obama or perhaps trouble a Catholic enough not to vote for John McCain? A few mentioned but not adequately discussed were the evils of  “preventive war,” the death penalty, embryonic stem cell research, and the social sins of poverty and oppression in its many forms.

John McCain and Barack Obama score high and low in each of these other life issues often in ways that seem predictable according to their party affiliation. For example, Obama clings to Roe vs. Wade  because he believes attempts to repeal this law will increase the amount of dangerous and illegal abortions. Likewise, John McCain supports embryonic stem cell research because he feels otherwise the frozen embryos would simply be wasted.  Either way, both men support the selective death of human beings.  John McCain supports “preventive war,” a new concept invented to justify the current war in Iraq and perhaps wars of the future in which an aggressive action may be taken against a people based on suspicion alone. This concept flies in the face of nearly 2,000 years of Catholic tradition that advocates a Just War tradition.

Thomas Peters’ initial and guiding point for us as Catholics was a rhetorical question and I think a good one. How can anyone be an advocate for the dignity of human life if those who are the most innocent in this world are not defended from the horror of abortion?

Surely this presents a problem for Catholics highly considering casting a vote for Barack Obama. However, while John McCain holds to Thomas Peters’ standard for being an advocate for early human life something has gone gravely wrong for the senator as he supports the death of humans for the purpose of research (which is abortion of another kind), as he supports the death penalty, and as he supports a bogus and untenable position on national defense.  

This decision for most of us is not easy.  This decision for most of us will require prayer, most certainly  a compromise of our most cherished values, but perhaps also a wake-up for us that we need to bring  to our children and teenagers a passion for being involved and perhaps run for offices as Catholics.  

Perhaps some day, maybe even in 2012, we’ll have a candidate who truly holds a viable life ethic, from conception to natural death. Until then, may God work to change the hearts of both Barack Obama and John McCain.

Randy Henderson is director of youth ministry at St. Patrick Parish, Lodi.