Since yesterday I’ve been embroiled in a lively debate about whether or not it’s a violation of the tax code for the Catholic Church to remind its members that to vote for a candidate who supports abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, cloning and/or same-sex marriage – each a non-negotiable moral principle of the Church – is a sin. Just such a publication has been prepared and is being distributed by one teaching arm of the Catholic Church and has come under great scrutiny. Does such a voting guide run afoul of the IRS rules which exempt churches from paying taxes? No candidate names are mentioned – only the moral implications are discussed.
I’m thinking that since the Holy Roman Church teaches its members from cradle to grave that abortion is murder and heinous in the eyes of God, the admonition not to support a candidate who espouses the practice ought to go without saying. I suppose this is the church hedging its bets. Nevertheless, if any church’s job is to guide and shepherd their members through the mine-fields of life, to fail to warn them when they’re about to endanger their mortal souls would land the shepherd himself in big trouble with the Almighty.
There is also the matter of labor unions – another sort of tax-exempt organization – which can and does pay people to protest at Republican rallies as we see in this video. Now, I’m reasonably certain that there is some provision made for labor unions in the tax code which allows them to meddle in politics – otherwise there would have been no democrats elected in the last 60 years – but is it right? How do we reconcile the differences?
Is it permissible for the pastor of a local church to put up a Romney Ryan yard sign on the lawn of the parsonage? Would a pro-Obama bumper sticker on a church bus be out of place? I’m just not sure.
For my part I believe that a church has the responsibility to teach its doctrine as that doctrine relates to life. If we must live by the laws of the land, and we are told to do so, then do we not have a duty to do our part to make sure the laws of the land do not violate God’s laws?
Needless to say this debate will rage on. For my part, I urge anyone who attempts to follow the golden rule to consider the voter’s guide. Even if you’re not Catholic, it’s food for thought.