Separation of Church and State

I received an email today from a cyber-buddy of mine. Normally, all those “forwards” (and I suspect that’s what this was) are just deleted, but the subject line “Separation of Church and State” caught my attention.

Here’s the text of the email I received:

A Priest in Greenville South Carolina has told his parishioners to refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barak Obama, saying that supporting him “constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil.” The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote. “Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ’s Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.”
I suppose Rev. Newman felt this Presidential election was a one-issue vote, despite the war, the economy and the changing face of America in the world.

With Thanksgiving approaching, It’s important to remember that the Pilgrims risked their lives and left everything behind to travel to this new world so they could simply follow their religious beliefs free of political interference or coercion. That was the cornerstone for the separation of religion and government (aka Church and State) to fight against the repression that was rampant in Europe. How ironic that this Priest feels that our political beliefs should be subject to interference and coercion by the Church. No matter your political or religious conviction, you have a right to vote for the candidate who will best serve all your needs, just as you have the right to practice a religion that serves your soul. To deny one or the other is simply un- American.

I felt that I would be remiss in just deleting this email rather than responding to it.

I believe that the willingness to put a pro-abortion politician in office when a prolife alternative exists means that people are willingly cooperating in the evil of abortion. Denying someone the basic right to life only opens the door to denying other groups of people the same right. When a group of people (whether unborn, aged, handicapped, or of a certain religion, class, color or sexual preference) is considered expendable, we all know what can happen—because we know what HAS happened.
I also believe that it is the right and duty of religious leaders to encourage the members of their churches to prayerfully consider their vote IN THE LIGHT OF THEIR FAITH.
Please read this letter from Scranton Bishop Joseph Martino on the subject.
I do not believe that I leave my faith behind when I enter the voting booth. On the contrary, I expect that my faith has informed my choice—as I expect that it informs ALL the choices I make each day.

Pray today that people of faith everywhere will take the time to inform their consciences and their choices, and to defend them to others who believe that faith should be left behind when we exit the church on Sunday mornings.

There’s more here, with links, at The Deacon’s Bench.

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