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24 Responses

  1. Kat
    Kat November 15, 2008 at 8:56 pm |

    I’m Catholic and, like the majority of my fellow Catholic voters, I voted for Obama. That’s really a strong message. This issue has definitely got the Catholics divided, but I find that of my Catholic friends who are so opposed to Obama, many don’t seem take into account anything but abortion. Any other poltical stance seems to be fine as long as women don’t have choice. That’s just crap.

    The church’s own guidance on the issue was not to name one candidate or the other as the church’s choice for president, but instead to urge all Catholics to carefully consider their choice after considering all the issues.

    I read an interesting article that has been circulating the blogosphere here: http://ncronline3.org/drupal/?q=node/2058.

  2. Marnanel
    Marnanel November 15, 2008 at 9:45 pm |

    The Episcopal Bishop of Bethlehem wrote an interesting discussion of the implications for the separation of church and state of the actions of this priest. I thought I’d pass on the link.

  3. victoria
    victoria November 15, 2008 at 10:48 pm |

    I’ve gotta chime in on this as both a Catholic and as a theology grad student. This priest got it WRONG. He needs to take a refresher course in moral theology–no classmate of mine would be able to pass comps if they didn’t get such a basic question as this right. It is simply not true that voting Obama (or any pro choice candidate) = No Communion. He is twisting Catholic teaching to suit his agenda.

    It upsets me deeply that a leader of a congregation can promote such misinformation and cause such unnecessary turmoil in people’s hearts. I feel terrible for people who look to him as a teacher and spiritual guide.

  4. Holly
    Holly November 15, 2008 at 11:37 pm |

    Separation of church and state. If a church chooses to be involved in politics, it loses its tax exemption. Report them to the IRS.

    Personally, I think all churches should pay taxes.

  5. Priest Warns Obama Voters Against Receiving Communion | Pelican Project Pro-Life

    […] Go here to see the original:  Priest Warns Obama Voters Against Receiving Communion […]

  6. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz November 15, 2008 at 11:57 pm |

    The church’s own guidance on the issue was not to name one candidate or the other as the church’s choice for president, but instead to urge all Catholics to carefully consider their choice after considering all the issues.

    Well, it’s not as though the church can name a candidate without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. (Cue the bizarre passive aggression of Pulpit Sunday or whatever they called it.)

    If a church chooses to be involved in politics, it loses its tax exemption. Report them to the IRS.

    Holly, this is a bit of an overreach. Tax-exempt organizations like churches are free to counsel their members on political positions and to take positions on matters of public policy. They just can’t name candidates and make specific endorsements (although they are allowed to weigh in freely on ballot measures).

  7. bastard.logic
    bastard.logic November 16, 2008 at 1:58 am |

    Catholic Priest to Obama Supporters: ‘No Communion For You!’…

    by matttbastard

    Stay classy, Rev. Jay Scott Newman:
    A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports …

  8. ol cranky
    ol cranky November 16, 2008 at 10:49 am |

    If a church chooses to be involved in politics, it loses its tax exemption. Report them to the IRS.

    Holly, this is a bit of an overreach. Tax-exempt organizations like churches are free to counsel their members on political positions and to take positions on matters of public policy. They just can’t name candidates and make specific endorsements (although they are allowed to weigh in freely on ballot measures).

    fizz: normally, I’d agree with you except this goes beyond telling people how the church stands on an issue, this says that anyone who votes (or voted) for a candidate who doesn’t vow to legislate in accordance with religious doctrine is not eligible to receive sacraments. In short, Catholics were told specifically which candidate they were to vote for/against and does cross the line.

  9. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz November 16, 2008 at 11:07 am |

    this says that anyone who votes (or voted) for a candidate who doesn’t vow to legislate in accordance with religious doctrine is not eligible to receive sacraments. In short, Catholics were told specifically which candidate they were to vote for/against and does cross the line.

    Isn’t this an ex post facto issue? There was no pre-emptive statements that votes for Obama would disqualify one from communion, just that those who did vote for him should refrain from taking communion later. It seems this sort of nonsense rears its head all the time when a prominent pro-choice politician is elected. Kerry supporters were told the same thing.

    As much as I find it distasteful, the Catholic church and/or its surrogates are free to make abortion the dispositive issue in their political theology without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

  10. levicat
    levicat November 16, 2008 at 2:10 pm |

    I agree that churches should lose their tax-exempt status when they start preaching about politics. Especially when they NAME candidates, like in this case. Just b/c Obama is elected now does not mean he won’t be running again in 4 years, and denying communion based on political views is messed up. Doesn’t this send the message that whenever a person votes for a pro-choice politicians, they shouldn’t take communion, thus influencing voters/church-goers in every election?

    And how come the Catholics and Mormons pour so much money directly into politics (e.g., Prop 8) and still get to enjoy tax-exempt status?

  11. Adrian
    Adrian November 16, 2008 at 2:47 pm |

    This is appalling. Even for people who believe aborting a fetus is wrong, always more wrong than having a pregnant woman die, I am outraged beyond words at the idea of holding such a value as more important than trying to stop war or torture, or relieve poverty or sickness.

    I’m curious about whether this priest went over the line of telling his parishioners that voting for Obama was an unforgiveable mortal sin before or after the election. (He didn’t say they could do penance for it before they could be Catholics in good standing again. *Murderers* can repent and be accepted in the church.) I think that if he only said it after the election, it’s a theological offense which the church is dealing with internally. If he said it before the election, it also becomes a civil problem relating to the tax-exempt status of the church.

  12. Kat
    Kat November 16, 2008 at 4:03 pm |

    I was in church every week in the months preceeding the election, and was never told which candidate to vote for. The church seemed to be actually extremely careful not to name one candidate or the other (although we probably all know they aren’t in favor of ANY pro-choice candidate). This particular priest broke ranks by making an issue of it, and the church is scrambling now to throw the disclaimers out there, and trying to figure out how so many Catholics voted for Obama without doing so in opposition to their own guidance.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/us/15bishops.html?ref=us

    Adrian — I do believe that the priest in question told his parishioners that they could confess their sin and then receive communion (which is pretty much the standard for any sin). However, IMHO there is no sin to begin with — the Bishops set forth that a vote could be made “despite” the candidate’s pro-choice stance as long as the voter believed he/she made the decision to vote for that candidate in good conscience after weighing all the issues.

    As an aside — my aunt is a nun and has been for 40-some years, and also identifies herself as a feminist. She voted for Obama and was horrified by Palin. So there are a lot of Catholics, even in the ranks, who don’t agree with this guy.

  13. exholt
    exholt November 16, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    Though I am not Catholic myself, I grew up around many Catholics in my childhood neighborhood and live near a neighborhood with a large Catholic population.

    If this priest attempted to pull that BS in my area, he’d be laughed, ridiculed, and asked for his resignation/being pulled out of their church as the are tends historically to vote overwhelmingly Democratic and Obama won my area handily on Nov. 4th.

    Not only that, you’re far more likely to raise their ire by mentioning the GOP and its candidates in anything approaching a complementary manner….especially in this past election considering what transpired over the last 8 years.

    Moreover, what this priest pulled sounds far more like what some Protestant denominations, especially those of the fundamentalist right variety would pull judging by what I’ve observed firsthand and heard from classmates/co-workers.

    Also, this would not surprise undergrad classmates who were born and raised in South Carolina who frequently recounted how religious fundamentalism and social conservatism permeated their daily existence until they went out of state to attend college.

  14. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz November 16, 2008 at 4:27 pm |

    And how come the Catholics and Mormons pour so much money directly into politics (e.g., Prop 8) and still get to enjoy tax-exempt status?

    Because of the way Congress and the IRS framed “politics”. Here’s their press release explaining 501(c )(3) status and political activity.

    As they state: “Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c )(3) organization as one “which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

    Ballot measures, like Prop 8, are not candidates, and thus churches get to weigh in however they’d like. There are other issues floating around (for example, related to the Mormon church’s advocacy and reporting its expenditures), but they are free to preach as they see fit on policy issues.

    If you’re asking why as a practical matter, it’s a 1st Amendment issue as well.

  15. Steeeeeeev
    Steeeeeeev November 16, 2008 at 4:37 pm |

    As Karl Rove has shown us with “W”, any incompetent moron can profess to be against abortion and get a lot of votes… if he screws up the country, so what?

  16. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead November 16, 2008 at 4:46 pm |

    Moreover, what this priest pulled sounds far more like what some Protestant denominations, especially those of the fundamentalist right variety would pull judging by what I’ve observed firsthand and heard from classmates/co-workers.

    Interesting that you are saying this. Jay Scott Newman was raised by a Baptist single mother in NC, proclaimed himself Rebel Atheist at a very young age, and eventually converted to Christianity after he got to Princeton. I’ve always thought he had a sort of southern-Protestant approach, which is likely a regional trait, simply from growing up here.

    Thank you for the link and the great comments. This whole thing has thrown me for a loop, to say the least.

  17. evil_fizz
    evil_fizz November 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    Cara, I have to disagree with you. Regulation of churches is, inevitably, a 1st Amendment issue, whether we’re talking about speech or the Establishment Clause (even if the 1st Amendment winds up being ancillary). With respect to 501(c )(3) status, it’s a bit different, but I think that the 1st Amendment is inevitably in the background.

    There’s a huge contingent of churches and church leaders who think that the tax-exempt rules should not preclude them from naming candidates. (And let’s be honest: if you stake out enough policy positions as a church, it becomes fairly clear which candidates you have in mind.)

  18. Unanimous_Person
    Unanimous_Person November 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm |

    The issue of pro-life, and pro-choice is something that will raise controversy no matter where it rears its head, but I cannot help but think there may be a more underlying issue to this priests behavior. Lately I have seen many implications of racism towards Obama, and southern US DOES have that reputation, and what better way to conceal immoral and controversial motives, than with an understood immoral and controversial issue?

  19. ol cranky
    ol cranky November 16, 2008 at 5:11 pm |

    I’ve seen the petitions against the Mormon church regarding the work on Prop 8, and haven’t signed because I know that they were within their rights legally, if not morally.

    Cara: there’s been a lot of chatter that LDS actually funneled money to the YES on 8 campaign by telling congregants that donations to the fund would count towards their tithe. I’m not sure if this is true or not (I’m sure if it is they were very clever in how they handled it) but if it is true were does this fall on the legal spectrum?

  20. prefer not to say
    prefer not to say November 16, 2008 at 7:29 pm |

    If anyone has read this far and is interested in the US Catholic Church’s *official* advice to its members on voting, you’ll want to take a look at this:

    http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf

    It’s the document the bishops write and have distributed to church members in the month before election, reminding them that human life, family life, social justice, environmental stewardship and global solidarity are all values which a voter must take into account in order to make a moral choice.

    There were a number of bishops who refused to let it be distributed in their dioceses simply because it did not name abortion as the number one overriding issue on which to vote.

    Regardless of where you stand on abortion, voting your conscience is difficult and takes time and information, because there are many issues to be considered and weighed. Those who fantasize that they can do right simply by voting on one issue sell short the difficulty of being an honestly conscientious citizen.

  21. Jorge
    Jorge November 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm |

    Also a Catholic (more spiritual), I sent a letter to St. Mary’s Church but have yet to receive a response. Please read it and my position at: http://www.examiner.com/x-948-Miami-Law–Politics-Examiner~y2008m11d13-An-open-letter-to-Pastor-Newman

  22. birdfarm
    birdfarm November 27, 2008 at 4:52 am |

    Adrian, he did say you could confess –

    Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance.

    The Sacrament of Penance is the official name for what is commonly called confession.

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