Okay. Enough is enough. Now some bishops in the Roman Catholic Church are saying that one “wrong” vote in next year’s presidential primaries could send you to hell.
Writer Cathy Lynn Grossman reported in USAToday last Thursday that the day before, Catholic bishops “approved a statement on the nature of ‘faithful citizenship’ that hammers home the ‘intrinsic evil’ of abortion and reminds Catholics that their votes ‘may also affect’ their salvation.”

The statement was issued by the U.S. Conference of Bishops in Baltimore at its fall meeting. The statement labeled as “evils” euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, artificial contraception, abortion, and racism.
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota proposed an amendment emphasizing the danger of making ‘wrong choices,’ USAToday reported. “If we do not warn our people that choosing intrinsic evils will have an impact on their salvation, then we will truly fail as teachers,” the USAToday report quoted him as saying.
Not everyone fully agreed. The USAToday story said that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, N.Y. asked, “Are we ready to give the impression that one vote could endanger a person’s eternal salvation?”
Apart and aside from the question of whether “salvation” is even an issue, the very idea that God might send you to hell because of who you vote for is beyond sad. Thankfully, the bishops assembled in Baltimore did not adopt Bishop Aquila’s wording, but it nevertheless issued a milder statement that warned Catholics about voting for a candidate “who takes a position in favor of intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position.”
This leaves lots of wiggle room, because any Catholic voter could say, “It is not my intention to support a position supporting a particular issue, but I agree with the candidate’s position on all other major issues, and so I voted as I did.”
Personally, I regret the Catholic bishops’ linking of abortion and racism in the same sentence, as if they were the same sort of evil behavior. Nearly everyone in the U.S. agrees that “racism” is undesireable. Not everyone agrees that abortion is, particularly under certain circumstances, and putting the two into the same sentence is not fair play.
More universally, I am so sorry that, once again, we all have to get into this entire question of WHAT GOD WANTS as if we all know the answer, specifically and completely and accurately, and now, therefore, have standing to tell others about that — and how they should behave (and vote) in response to what we all know about God’s desires and requirements.
I am going to invite all of you to find and read WHAT GOD WANTS, a wonderful and exciting and theologically stimulating book that looks at this entire question of Deity’s Desires and Requirements. Read it, and let me know what you think.
In the meantime, can we keep our notions of God’s demands out of the political arena? Do you think? Or do we really believe that God will send us to hell for voting for Rudy Giuliani or Dennis Kucinich (Catholic candidates who, like Joe Biden, Christopher Dodd, and Bill Richardson, do not take positions opposing abortion)? Do we really think that God will send us to hell for this?
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