Wanted: Political Party With a Consistent Life Ethic

When American voters object to both abortion and gun violence, where can they go?

BY: Father John Breck

 

The other day I was talking with a journalist friend who was born and reared in Paris. He had just finished a six-month stay in the United States, listening to Americans and writing articles on his experience. "Though we admire you Americans more than you think," he said, "what strikes us most is the odd--may I say crazy?--inconsistency in the way you take sides on issues of life and death."

He went on to give a few examples, beginning with current politics. On one hand, he pointed out, the Republicans oppose abortion yet heartily support the death penalty. George W. Bush is friendly with the National Rifle Association, despite the fact that American children are committing mayhem in the classroom with readily available handguns. The Democrats, on the other hand, are in favor of gun control. But their candidates usually favor abortion rights, to the point where some oppose outlawing partial-birth abortions.

"What gets me," my friend concluded, "is the inconsistency inherent in the respective positions of both parties. It seems to me that it would make more sense if at least one major political party in the country held to a really consistent 'pro-life' philosophy, as we try to do in Europe."

I couldn't argue with him, since I've been troubled by the same inconsistency myself. What has bothered me all the more, though, is the realization that the problem isn't limited to political parties. It infects the thinking of a great many Christians as well, including many Orthodox.

We Orthodox are by nature "conservative," hopefully in the true sense of that word. We feel called by God to preserve--to conserve--our faith, which saints and martyrs have transmitted as the Tradition of the Church. And this is all to the good.

But in this country especially, that conservative bent has often embraced the platforms of conservative political parties as a matter of principle. Most Orthodox seem to vote Republican. This is because they see the party of Lincoln as the one that defends individual rights, family values, and the life of the unborn. They point with dismay, and sometimes with eager condemnation, at Democrats who violate those values. When they are questioned about the inconsistency in being pro-life regarding abortion while defending both capital punishment and the "right" to bear deadly weapons, they usually reply by invoking the innocence of the unborn and the (presumed) guilt of those destined for the chair or a lethal injection.

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