The issues of 2016 are not just political. They also have moral dimensions. As we vote on November 8, we, Christians and all people of good will, are compelled to face and address the underlining moral issues that confront us today.
(The following citations are taken from the Paulist Fathers Statement on Moral Issues in the 2016 Presidential Election.)
1) Immigration: “You shall not oppress an alien; you well know how it feels to be an alien, since you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” (Ex 23:9) The story of the church in the U.S. is the story of immigrants and refugees coming into our country. Once in our history, the Irish, German, and Italian immigrants were discriminated against because of who they were. Now they are part of mainstream society.
We have seen growing support in the electorate for sweeping and inaccurate generalizations that put down the intrinsic worth of men and women who are new to this country. We have seen the plight of millions of refugees from Syria and Somalia disregarded because of fear and the harmful actions of a few.
We have seen the integrity of a federal judge put down because of his parents’ country of origin. We have seen Muslim-Americans belittled based solely on their religious affiliation. This included a call to ban entry by all Muslims into the United States temporarily, which would be an unprecedented violation of the Freedom of Religion enshrined in our Constitution.
The inscription on the Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Let us be true to our values.
2) Violence and murder: “You shall not kill.” (Ex 20: 13) The many recent incidents of mass violence and individual gun violence in the U.S. and other parts of the world have rattled the collective nerves of our society. We brace ourselves at news of each bombing or shooting. We brace ourselves as they announce the death totals and we learn about the victims and the injured.
We pray that God will turn the hand and soften the heart of the next man or woman who is contemplating violence. We pray for God’s inspiration for the best pastoral response and the best public policy response. May our societal and public policy response to these acts of violence be seen as a pro-life issue alongside war, abortion, torture, the death penalty and euthanasia as attacks upon the sacredness of all human life.
3) Sanctity of human life: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (Is 55: 8) We exist in a society that does not always cherish human life. Abortion of the unborn also threatens our culture. We pray that all people will see human life as a precious gift from God that begins in the womb. We also recommit ourselves to be present to single women and couples facing unplanned pregnancies. We recommit ourselves to support those who have welcomed children despite difficulties and challenges.
Similarly, the death penalty and euthanasia are the easy solutions of a culture seeking to avoid the heavy-burden of reconciliation and pain. Our society will be stronger when we protect all human life from conception to natural death.
4) Just wages: “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” (James 5: 4) Pockets of the U.S. have never fully recovered from “The Great Recession” of 2008. Income disparity is at historic levels with the richest Americans controlling more of the country’s wealth than ever before.
Simultaneously, the middle class is shrinking and many poor families are having incredible difficulty rising out of poverty.
We join with church leaders in the belief that “social and economic policies should foster the creation of jobs for all who can work accompanied with decent working conditions and just wages.” We also believe that we must overcome “barriers to equal pay and employment for women and those facing unjust discrimination.”
5) Our Environment: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31) Protecting the land, water, and air we share is a religious duty of stewardship. We need to promote effective initiatives for energy conservation and the development of alternate, renewable, and clean-energy resources.
We need to address global climate change, focusing on the virtue of prudence while pursuing the common good. This issue has a tremendous impact on the poor, particularly on vulnerable workers and the poorest nations.
Please consider these major moral issues and others when you vote.
Posted on Fri, November 4, 2016
by Rev. Wilmer Todd