Precinct 333

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Archbishop Speaks on Faith, Morals, and Democracy

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput makes an excellent point in his commetary in the Chroinicle.

Lawmaking inevitably involves some group imposing its beliefs on the rest of us. That's the nature of the democratic process. If we say that we "ought" to do something, we are making a moral judgment. When our legislators turn that judgment into law, somebody's "ought" becomes a "must" for the whole of society. This is not inherently dangerous; it's how pluralism works.

Law and morality usually (should, in fact) go hand-in-hand. It is not a violation of the Constitution to enact a moral precept into law. Indeed, it is the responsibility of people of every faith to seek to enact laws that deal with fundamental moral issues.  That is, in the end, the obligation of each believer -- to work to enact that which they believe makes for a more just, more moral society.

Words are cheap. Actions matter. If we believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, we need to prove that by our actions, including our political choices. Anything less leads to the corruption of our integrity. Patriotism, which is a virtue for people of all faiths, requires that we fight, ethically and nonviolently, for what we believe. Claiming that "we don't want to impose our beliefs on society" is not merely politically convenient; it is morally incoherent and irresponsible.

As James 2:17 reminds us, in a passage quoted in the final presidential debate, "Faith without works is dead." It is a valid point. People should act on what they claim to believe. Otherwise they are violating their own conscience, and lying to themselves and the rest of us.

Salt and Light!


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