Deal Hudson raised an important issue in his Crisis Magazine e-Letter (April 2), something we’ve often wondered about. He points out that Senator John Kerry spoke at the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis at a worship service on March 28. Says Hudson: “The senator’s appearance at New Northside Missionary is quite a serious matter. The fact that a presidential hopeful was given the pulpit in a church during an election year should be in violation of the IRS’ own regulations for tax-exempt churches (which are not allowed to be involved in political campaigning of any kind).
Kerry never came out and said ‘vote for me,’ but his political allusions were obvious.” Hudson points out two allusions: “He…[quoted] James 2:14, which he used as an indictment of the current administration. Kerry said: ‘The Scriptures say: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?'” And this: “When he [Kerry] encouraged the congregation to ‘pray by moving their feet,’ he could only have meant for them to ‘move their feet’ into the voting booth this November.”
This isn’t the only time candidates for office (usually Democratic candidates) have given sermons or speeches in churches. We do wonder how such churches get away with it. Hudson is certainly right to raise the issue.
In our New Oxford Notes section (May) we had a piece called “Reading Tea Leaves,” where we asked you to take a little quiz. We gave you a quote and asked you to determine whether it was pro-Bush, anti-Bush, neutral, or ambiguous.
Well, we have another quiz for you. We’d like you to tell us if the following quote, from a Catholic magazine, is pro-Bush, anti-Bush, neutral, or ambiguous: “This summer in Boston the Democratic Party will formally nominate a pro-abortion Catholic, Senator John Kerry, as its candidate for president. This is the man who went out of his way during the primary [sic] to identify himself as the most pro-abortion of all the candidates. When asked what his first act as president would be, Kerry replied that he would repeal the Mexico City Policy. (The policy ensures that federal money is not spent on abortions either at military bases or in population control programs around the world. It was the first presidential act of George W. Bush.) Already, Kerry has tried to wrap himself in the mantle of another president — John F. Kennedy…. But Kerry is, as they say, no John F. Kennedy: It’s one thing to divorce one’s religious faith from public duties and quite another to pledge that one’s first act in office will be to oppose the Church’s most fundamental moral teaching — the protection of innocent life…. Kerry [is] promising to make abortion as widely available as possible — even using your tax money to offer it…. If U.S. Catholics vote in large numbers for Kerry, the message to present and future Catholics will be clear: You don’t need to believe in or act on Church teaching in public life; Catholics don’t care whether you’re faithful or not. Catholics make up approximately 30 percent of those who vote in national elections. They are a powerful swing vote, especially in states with large numbers of electoral votes…. It took Bush winning 10 percent more of the Catholic vote than Robert Dole in 1996 to barely beat Al Gore. The loss of the Catholic vote to Kerry would be disastrous to Bush’s reelection. Kerry supporters are counting on this. Already a ‘Catholics for Kerry’ organization has been created…. In the past, Catholics have lacked political power because they’ve either ignored or apologized for the central tenets of their faith. In November 2004, we’ll see if that sad fact remains true.”
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