Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

I love Pew transcripts

This one features Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who spearheaded the drafting of the House Catholic Democrats’ Statement of Principles, about which I wrote here and here.

Here’s an interesting bit:

My hope is that we can let faith play a big role in the public arena and in our politics, but without the bitter divisions that we saw two years ago. For my part, I’m wholly comfortable with the clergy guiding parishioners and politicians on issues of morality. That is very different than religious authorities dictating what elected officials and, indeed, voters should do under threat of religious sanction. I was alarmed when some bishops stated that the sacraments should be withheld from certain Catholic legislators because of their votes on public issues. That conflicts with my fundamental beliefs about the role of Democratic representatives in a pluralistic America. It clashes with freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, and those in the hierarchy who cast the stone, I think, put at risk something that was very precious.


Senator Kennedy answered the skeptics who worried about his Catholicism. In his famous speech on September 12, 1960, to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association he said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote…I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant or Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source."

His election affirmed the principle that our public life is enriched by the diversity of views that are nurtured in a civil society and are arbitrated in politics to a national conclusion. To be honest with you, I didn’t get elected to public office to undo John Kennedy’s accomplishments. I’m not willing to qualify his commitment not just to Catholics, but to Americans of all faiths whom I represent in this job. And I’m not conflicted on the issue; I’m comfortable with John Kennedy’s vision and with my oath of office. Whatever the issue: immigration, abortion, death penalty; the church should seek to guide us on the right path. But we can not go back on what John Kennedy achieved and have religious authorities dictate what elected officials and, indeed, voters should and should not do under the threat of religious sanction.

Am I right in detecting a tension here?

Discussions - 1 Comment

Well, the pretty clear problem here is that he wants to draw a distinction between someone giving moral and political instruction, as if the latter had nothing to do with the latter.

These debates are all pretty tired by now and it seems clear that most everyone merely objects to religious expression/instruction with which they disagree.

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