I received a more direct letter from Bishop Dewane than I have from many others. I appreciate his taking time to reach out to me. I did find some things in his letter worth examining more deeply. I don’t expect the bishops to be well-versed on politics AND religion. I consider myself a decent bridge in that breach. They know far more about our faith and morals than I ever will… but I do have a perspective on where our faith intersects with the political sphere.
Our correspondence: venice-fl-bishop-dewane
I don’t have the ability to copy and paste his remarks here, you will find them at the link above. I can paste my own comments, though.
Dear Bishop Dewane,
Thank you for acknowledging my book. I understand the positions expressed by the Church in regards to not taking partisan positions in elections. From the FCCB guide you mentioned in your letter:
“While individual citizens are free to engage fully in partisan politics, churches and other 501(c)(3) institutions that qualify for tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code are not. The Church and Church organizations may not be involved in partisan politics. Expressions of preference for a political party and of direct or indirect support for or in opposition to specific candidates or political parties are not permissible.”
“Pastors and others should be wary of outside organizations seeking to distribute voter education materials through parishes. It may happen that issues covered in outside materials do not address the range of issues of importance to the Church. Moreover, their content, format and presentation may not satisfy IRS regulations applicable to Catholic organizations.”
However, earlier in your booklet, it says:
“However, genuine religious expression guarantees authentic freedom, nurturing a mutual respect among the members of our society.”
How free are we when our Church considers Herself subject to the rules of government? The Church isn’t tax-exempt because of 501c3. She was tax-exempt before churches were added to the code in 1954. The Church is tax-exempt because she pre-dates the government and our Founding Fathers did not want to have government control of churches. It’s that simple. The 501c3 code is a primary example of the way government takes control… it says it is merely codifying an existing relationship and nothing will change. However, once it has been codified, the government holds the threat to rescind the code. What should exist after the rescission is what existed for 200+ years before that… churches are still tax-exempt. That is not what the government says will happen, though, so the Church is silenced.
Churches were added to the 501c3 code as a tool of control and specifically to silence the Church. Sen. Lyndon Johnson did not like the Church having such a significant influence in shaping public policy. What we have become is direct result of this action. The Church has a greatly reduced influence in public life and intrinsic evil has become a staple of public policy. Are you aware that churches do not actually have to apply for 501c3 qualification? For almost all organizations, they must fill out Form 1023 and 1024. Churches are not required to file form 1023 because they are considered covered by 501c3 automatically. Donations to churches are automatically tax-deductible. Churches have a mandatory exception to filing tax returns. The IRS code automatically exempts churches from its basic requirements.
In short, Bishop Dewane, the Catholic Church’s silence is voluntary… and misguided. It is not an endorsement of the GOP to point out the evil supported by the Democratic Party. We don’t compromise our impartiality by opposing the sponsors of evil in positions of public authority. We have compromised our authority by our failure to do so.
If a Democrat (doesn’t matter if it turns out to be Hillary Clinton) becomes President, we will have generations of Americans grow up not knowing there was even a debate about the constitutionality of abortion rights. The next president will likely appoint a 7-2 Supreme Court. Although the quote below is from Hillary Clinton, keep in mind that both of the issues she addresses are in the Party Platform:
“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests, because the next president could get as many as three appointments,” the former first lady responded. “It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.” . . . “We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community, we’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe V. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed.”
Catholics represent as much as 25% of the electorate overall and as much as ⅓ in CA and NY. No politician should be able to advocate for intrinsic evil and expect Catholic votes—no politician can be elected without Catholic acquiescence in a national or state election. Yet, Catholics have split our vote down the middle for a number of election cycles. No one respects our priorities because we don’t stand for them ourselves, as a group. Our bishops have done next to nothing to correct this problem.
We are scandalized among even the atheists who wonder where our Catholic leaders are when the issues are so polarized and clear in this election. Even our foes see that the Church is silent when it shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, our leaders are supporting the Democratic Party. How can I say this? What if I told you the USCCB came out in favor of tax cuts, strong national borders, and 2nd Amendment rights… you would logically conclude the Church favors the GOP. Here’s the reality… the Church has been a major factor in pushing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), immigration reform, and climate change. These are Democratic policy priorities and people rightly conclude the Church favors Democrat policies.
Msgr Charles Pope wrote an article that read like it came directly out of my book and posted it to Facebook recently. I follow him. The one main difference between his article and my book? He said, “but I’m not going to name the party.” From that, there were posters on that thread who concluded they should inform their own consciences and choose “the lesser of two evils”—that was Hillary Clinton to them. Msgr Pope and I put that delusion to rest but this should be a wakeup call that there are too many who will take any amount of latitude perceived—no matter how infinitesimal—to vote for the party sponsoring intrinsic evils. The Church must be direct, forceful, and quick… before it’s too late.
Despite all of our efforts so far in our marches and prayers, if Hillary Clinton becomes the next president, she gets the chance to cement abortion and a redefinition of marriage as law for generations. We can stop it. My hope is that you and your fellow bishops will make support for evil the next “third-rail” of politics that no politician would ever dare touch again.
I look forward to discussing this with you further and will pray for our efforts as a Church.