A dear Catholic friend emailed me the following election ad:
So many things cross my mind as I watch this political advertisement:
1. TAXES! I am stunned (as I’ve previously posted) that right-wing strategists seek to link lower taxes to Catholic doctrine. This ridiculously dramatic ad implies that how we vote on TAXES will “be recorded in eternity.” Those who understand the social justice teachings of the Church recognize that paying taxes enables us to care and support the rights for all who reside in our country, while lower taxes have historically demonstrated that they support a small and very wealthy minority. And, beyond these modern-day realities, Jesus was pretty clear on the subject of taxes. (Render unto Caesar. Remember?!)
2. Cardinal Dolan? The ad quotes Cardinal Dolan: “When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental, one shudders to think what lies ahead.” Of course, this is the same Cardinal Dolan accused of paying off (with as much as $20,000) rapist priests so they would quietly leave the priesthood — clearly an effort to protect the patriarchy of the Church by leaving pedophiles free to prey on more children. Actually, Cardinal Dolan protecting pedophiles and the Church patriarchy at the expense of children . . . THAT makes me shudder.
3. Whiteness. This ad — with its portrayal of white Americans concerned about taxes and energy policy, jobs and gay marriage — speaks directly to the white privilege that populates the GOP and completely ignores the changing ethnicity of actual faithful members of the U.S. Catholic Church.
4. Recorded in Eternity? The ad offers the infantile suggestion that how we vote will go on our permanent record — our “really” permanent (eternal) record. There may be privacy in the voting booth but not from the always snooping eyes of God, who eagerly has nothing else to do but record your votes is some big book in the sky. Yep, because America is that important! Forget Galileo’s suggestion that the sun is the center of the universe . . . clearly the United States is.
5. Phony Freedom Language. It has become increasingly hard to empathize with a Church who uses Karl-Rove tactics of lying to make Americans (and Catholics) think that their unfreedoms are really “freedoms.” According to this system: 1) Choosing your own health care is NOT freedom. 2) Denying others insurance to pay for their health care IS freedom. And, of course, there is always the freedom to force others to follow your own Catholic beliefs, the freedom to be political from the pulpit, and the freedom to continue to garner tax-exempt status. This is how the neo-con Catholics have defined Freedom of Religion. It is this kind of “freedom” that U.S. Church fathers argue is “not negotiable.”