Sunday, August 07, 2011

Religious Tests for the Presidency

Jimmy Akin is one of those self-appointed right-wing Catholics who has created a business out of telling other Catholics that they aren't true enough or pure enough in their Catholicism.  He's a blogger who has written books and gets on right-wing Catholic radio (including the Covenant network) to encourage Catholics to report their priest to the bishop if he says something during Mass that a right winger does not like--for instance, if the priest mentions that he thinks priests should be able to marry, or that women should not be banned from the priesthood.

That's Jimmy Akin's right.  He can make money however he wants, as long as it's legal, and he obviously has his first amendment rights.  No crime there.  But now Akin has gone on the warpath against Mitt Romney -- not because Romney's economic policies (the few that he's actually been willing to put his name to) are heartless, not at all protective of the poor Jesus asked his followers to help.  No, Akin does not think Romney should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate because....wait for it....he's not Christian.  Romney is a member of the LDS church (the Mormons), obviously, and Akin is quick to point out that the LDS church is not Christian.

Couple problems with that one.  First, Akin's own faith -- Catholicism -- is often bashed by evangelicals as "not being Christian."  That's a charge arising from ignorance; it typically comes from people who believe that Catholics worship Mary or that Catholics are not called by the church to have a "personal relationship" with Christ.  You would think Akin, as a member of a faith community that is itself often attacked by outsiders, would not want to tackle Romney on Romney supposedly not belonging to a Christian church.

The second problem is that Akin defines Christianity in strictly theological terms.  Personally, I find theology fascinating -- one of the most interesting parlor games around.  But theology is not synonymous with being a follower of Christ -- that is, a true, humble Christ-ian:  a person who attempts to love as Jesus loves.  Akin has missed the point of Christianity if he thinks it's chiefly about doctrine.

Not to mention that people who call themselves Christian should reject bigotry in all its forms--including religious bigotry.  There's no other word for what Akin has advocated:  rejecting a presidential candidate chiefly on his religious beliefs.

There's no way in heck that I will vote for Romney -- in part because he has now rejected the one clearly good thing he did as governor of Massachussetts:  helping to craft health care reform that increased the likelihood that sick people (of all income levels) will be able to get medical care without the system going bankrupt.  No, Romney is not getting my vote.  But it has nothing to do with the sort of bigotry that Jimmy Akin is busy promoting.

I truly believe that each of us is called by God to reject bigotry in all its forms.  If we work at that, we can help save the church.  (Call me naive if you must, but I do believe that.)

1 comment:

Jeannine said...

A good comment on the hypocrisy of some political leaders. Thanks for sharing. And, thanks for your blog in general. There aren't many liberal Catholic blogs around. I recently started one, in case you're interested: