DATE: 4/07/2004 10:56:00 AM
The Meaning of Faith - John Kerry's recent misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine regarding the sanctity of human life has started quite a good internet discussion on the subject of faith and politics. Hugh Hewitt enters the fray with a column on Kerry's catechism of convenience. Carson Holloway, writing in National Review, says that Kerry deserves rebuke from the church on his recent statements.
This situation reinforces what I think is Kerry's most glaring weakness as a candidate, and as a politician - his almost total lack of personal conviction. John Kerry doesn't seem to believe in anything. The rationale behind his campaign isn't that he would be good for America, only different. Even his campaign slogan, "A New Direction for America" suggests the negative foundation upon which his campaign rests. He's saying 'I don't have any real ideas for America I can promote, but I'll be different from the guy that currently holds the office.' After spending decades in elected office, Senator Kerry has no record that he can use to help him. Such is the bitter fruit of political expediency.
So what does this have to do with faith?
Kerry's statements on his Catholicism and the "freedom of conscience for Catholics " doctrine that he has apparently created show that in faith as in politics, he wants to have it both ways. Kerry wants to be seen as religious without actually allowing his faith to impact his life or opinions. Catholic doctrine is very clear on the issue of abortion - it's a mortal sin. Kerry's absolute support of abortion rights, even to the point of voting against the ban on partial-birth abortions, goes against a major moral teaching of the faith he claims as his own.
Instead of just saying that he disagrees with Catholic teachings on this point and finding scripture or teachings to support his position, Kerry invents a doctrine to make himself right. The senator has something of a boundaries problem here - in Congress, he's allowed to write the laws. In religion, we're expected to obey them, even if that means giving up a personal belief or opinion.
John Kerry wants an easy faith. It seems he wants to go to church, take communion and most importantly, be seen as a religious person. If that's the case, though, he's picked the wrong religion. Christ didn't advocate the easy path, in fact He spoke against it. Christian writer C.S. Lewis once wrote the following:
I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity. G.K. Chesterson said:
lf the Church marries the spirit of the age, she will soon become a widow.It's time for Kerry to realize that religion doesn't exist to make him happy, or comfortable, or to provide him with excellent opportunities to impress other people. The church also shouldn't sway with what society, or a particular politician, believes.
In short, Kerry can't parse faith, or take both sides of this particular issue. That may work in the Senate, but I wouldn't recommend such an approach with God.