“Oh, What Did I Do?”
I’m one of those Evangelical Catholics who voted for Trump. I was convinced that I was following my conscience. I attend mass every Sunday and expect my pastor to be my moral guide in most areas of my life.
I must admit, however, in the area of birth control, I felt ok with my wife’s practicing birth control. We were both open to having children, but just not more than we could provide with food, shelter, health, education and love. We knew that the church was not against birth control per say, and even encouraged “natural” family planning. Our first two children were the result of that method and so we realized that it did not work for us, We felt God could not be offended if we used a method that did. Even at that, we always felt some guilt about it, and my wife often abstained from Eucharist until her child bearing years were over.
Being active in our church’s anti-abortion campaign was a way for us to prove to God and ourselves our genuine respect for life and for the unborn. Voting our conscience meant voting against candidates who supported a woman’s right to choose. Gratefully our church had made our political decisions easy and clear. All other moral or political issues could be ignored, or minimized as merely “character flaws” as long as a candidate claimed to oppose abortion. We did not have to weigh party platforms or any impact an election would have on our democracy or on our relations with our global neighbors. Being anti-abortion was equivalent to being on God’s side and what else could matter?
These past months of political chaos, created by Trump and his advisors have left me uneasy and remorseful. The lack of compassion shown toward immigrants and the sick and disabled are difficult to watch on nightly news. I was horrified by the hatred and violence openly displayed in Charlottesville, and by Trump’s reluctance to renounce Nazism and white supremacy publicly. I was sure I would hear and see a stronger stance from my pastor and the bishops but I am both disappointed and still waiting for the same degree of moral guidance that I was given during the election campaign.
Every day the threat of nuclear war escalates. Massive flooding and other natural disasters around the world are proving that climate change is real. Both are threatening the stability of life on our planet. I feel helpless and responsible while my church and the other evangelical religious leaders continue to give consent to this ineffective and morally diminished administration.
While our intelligence agencies are working feverishly to trace Russia’s collusion and interference in our elections, I can’t help feeling that they might just as easily examine our evangelical and catholic churches as co-conspiritors in swaying the results of this past election from inside our country. Many of our religious leaders have been involved in hacking the consciences of American citizens in order to influence the results of the 2016 elections and to gain political power in our government. They too, in the name of religious liberty, have had a significant role in undermining our democratic process. Now I anxiously wait for them to repent and to call us to repent of our failure to develop free and mature consciences and to shed our childlike dependency on moral authorities.