Op-Ed: Faith and the VP debate

  • Tuesday, October 4, 2016 9:40am
  • Opinion

In every election cycle since Jimmy Carter introduced “born again” into the political lexicon, a politician’s faith has been an object of curiosity and contention.

At an appearance in Iowa in January, Hillary Clinton responded to a question about her faith, saying she is a Christian and a Methodist and that to her “the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself.”

She is correct, but the challenge comes in how that commandment and Scripture are applied in the political arena. The same Scripture in which Hillary Clinton says she believes also teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman and that human life begins at conception. Hillary Clinton is pro-choice and favors same-sex marriage and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funds being used for abortion.

This brings us to Tuesday’s debate between the two candidates for vice president. Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) is a pro-life evangelical Christian who believes in traditional marriage. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA.) is a Roman Catholic who takes the opposite view.

Most evangelicals believe “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Many Roman Catholics accept the authority of Scripture, but also place tradition and the teachings of the Pope on par with it.

Why does this matter? If candidates for high office claim inspiration, even instruction, from an Authority higher than themselves, they should be asked about it. If they deviate from their faith’s teachings, they should be required to explain.

Tim Kaine often refers to his Catholic faith and to what he calls “a turning point in my life,” which came in 1980 while on a “mission trip” to Honduras. Left out of his narrative is the liberation theology taught by radical Catholic priests in the region at the time, a theology which closely tracked with Marxists committed to the violent overthrow of Latin American governments.

We have been down this road before with Catholic politicians, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, all of whom have taken political positions diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching.

About his departure from Catholic instruction and statements from the current and previous popes, especially on social issues, Kaine has said: “I think it’s going to change. … Who am I to challenge God for the beautiful diversity of the human family? I think we’re supposed to celebrate it, not challenge it.” That attitude might legitimize a multitude of sins.

Writing about church teachings on same-sex marriage, Maureen Ferguson of The Catholic Association says, “If Sen. Kaine wants to go beyond politics to opine on the theology of the Catholic Church, he should at least consult Pope Francis’ most recent exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, in which Francis states, ‘There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’”

The same can be said of consistent Catholic teaching about human life.

In another statement from the Catholic Association, Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie writes: “Senator Kaine’s attempt to cloak his political pandering as theological speculation exposes the Clinton campaign’s profoundly anti-Catholic ideological agenda. Hillary Clinton has previously stated that pro-life people of faith will simply have to change their religious views. … Now her running mate suggests the Church needs to do the same on the issue of marriage and family…”

These issues of faith and public policy should be raised during the one vice presidential debate Tuesday night.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

More in Opinion

Nurse Sherra Pritchard gives Madyson Knudsen a bandage at the Kenai Public Health Center after the 10-year-old received her first COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska Voices: A mom’s and pediatrician’s perspective on COVID-19 vaccines for children

I want to see children and their parents who have yet to get vaccinated roll up their sleeves.

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: The foolish men claiming self-defense

It’s not just misguided teenagers carrying guns who find themselves in trouble with the law.

Larry Persily (Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: State defends its right to cut nonexistent taxes

This from a state that has no property tax on homes or businesses, only on the oil industry.

Dr. Jay Butler, former chief medical officer for the State of Alaska, is seen in this undated photo. (Courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Feeling grateful this Thanksgiving for the COVID vaccines

The COVID vaccines remain our strongest tool in combating the pandemic and helping us return to our lives and the things we love and cherish.

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Voices of the Peninsula: All votes matter

In the beginning, only property-holding white men could vote.

Cristen San Roman. (Photo provided)
Point of View: Is management of Cook Inlet catered to special interest groups?

If these fish are so at risk, why is BOEM able to move forward with lease sale 258?

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Grateful for the hidden ‘good’

Gratitude: Noun The state of being grateful; thankfulness. The state or quality… Continue reading

Homer High School Principal Douglas Waclawski. (Photo provided)
Point of View: What is Homer High School about?

What I consider Homer High’s strength is that we are a place for learning.

UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. (courtesy photo)
Alaska Voices: Invent your future at UAA

At UAA we’re providing the tools to help students of all ages and skills chart a new course forward.

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
The sad diminishment of Rep. Don Young

Young seems afraid to demand his party leader defend the dignity of the institution he loves.

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Alaska Voices: Restore our strong campaign donation limits

Without campaign spending limits, the ideal of one person, one vote is no longer really true.