There’s no room for faith on the ballot

Neither major political party- Democrat or Republican- can fully encompass what we believe as Catholics, and this becomes more and more of a problem once you try to vote in accordance with your moral beliefs. Choosing one is compromising another part of yourself.

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by Gabby Staker, Design Editor

I’m a cradle Catholic, gratefully so, and as I’ve gone through high school, I’ve grown into and embraced my faith completely. I couldn’t live or find purpose without it. But I’ve also been raised in a conservative, Republican family and I hold those same values.

But recently, I have found myself really conflicted about what that means. I feel stuck between two different sets of proscribed beliefs that overlap in some places and contradict in others. It’s something that I didn’t let bother me for a long time, but lately it’s become sore and I’m still not sure that I’ve reached any kind of conclusion.

After the devastation of the Parkland shooting, losing seventeen beautiful lives, I’ve had to think really hard about what it means to be a Catholic and support the second amendment– to at the same time have to be pro-life and pro-gun.

I can trace it back to the very day, a few weeks ago in a Stars for Life meeting. We had a conversation among our group about consistent life ethic: loving, respecting and protecting all human life from womb to tomb. As a club, we questioned what it meant to be Catholic or Christian in a world that offers so much gray area- so much morality to be up to our individual consciences.

We read off statements and stood on one side of the room or the other, creating a spectrum of how much we agreed or disagreed with what each asserted. Some read, “Being pro-life means opposing all war,” or “Being pro-life means you should vote pro-life.”

I felt initially compelled to walk to a corner based on my politics, but I found myself really struggling with my faith pulling at my heart to feel differently. I’d been caught in that little consolation lie I’d been feeding myself. It’s okay, you’re on the right side wasn’t working anymore.

In an attempt to differentiate themselves, each major political party has seemingly hijacked every issue so that taking either side means you potentially compromise some part of yourself, leaving little room for faith on the ballot.

We’ve become so polarized in our politics, feeling the need to quickly support one side or the other, as opposed to thoughtfully debating the issue with our moral conscience at the forefront to guide our actions. These issues are way too important to just check one box or the other.

It’s remarkable that in today’s world, we push so hard for personalization and choice, and yet our political system has simplified it down to just two choices: red or blue. Each candidate has to buy into one those colors, boxed in by partisan agendas, regardless of how they themselves feel. Doing otherwise would mean they wouldn’t get enough funding to win an election.

I guess my point is that in wrestling with these ideas, I’ve realized that choosing one party over the other does not mean you subscribe to every part of its platform or agenda.

My goal is not to announce any political conversion or advocate one side, but instead to open up a conversation. When we say we’re Catholic and Republican or Catholic and Democrat, who are we really listening to? Who can we really say is right ? Should we listen to saints, not politicians? Are we asking “What Would Jesus Do?”