Faith and politics
By Rory Leishman
Special to The Interim
At a White House press conference on July 30, President George Bush
fielded a number of questions about Iraq, Saudi Arabia and homeland
security. Then a reporter asked: "As someone who's spoken out in strongly
moral terms, what's your view on homosexuality?"
To begin with, Bush aptly responded: "I am mindful that we're all sinners,
and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of their neighbour's
eye when they've got a log in their own."
Heterosexuals, especially, should take that admonition to heart. Heterosexual
fornication and adultery rank among the most serious sexual sins, because
they engender not only heartache and venereal disease, but also divorce,
unwanted pregnancies and abortion. Up until about 40 years ago, virtually
the entire Christian church - Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant - affirmed
what is evident from both reason and revelation: that the deliberate
killing of a baby in the womb is a grave sin that can never be justified.
In his remarks on homosexuality, Bush added: "I think it's very important
for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good
hearts, to be a welcoming country. On the other hand, that does not
mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage
… I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between
a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that (in law) one
way or the other."
Bush is a devout Methodist. To fulfill his responsibility to represent
all the people of the United States, he avoids mentioning Jesus Christ.
Yet it's evident that in every decision he makes as president, he seeks
always to uphold the traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality.
Is that wrong?
Paul Martin, the all-but-officially designated next prime minister
of Canada, thinks so. Asked about a Vatican statement calling upon Catholic
politicians to oppose gay marriage, he said: "I am a practising Catholic
and I have responsibilities as a legislator and those responsibilities
must take in a wider perspective."
What wider perspective might that be? Martin explained: "The courts
have spoken and government cannot discriminate."
Isn't that pathetic? Groucho Marx was joking when he quipped: "These
are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others." But Martin,
alas, is serious. Instead of upholding the moral truths revealed in
the Bible and affirmed by the teaching magisterium of the Catholic Church,
he has proclaimed his intention to tailor his moral convictions to the
immoral edicts of our gods in the courts.
Martin, of course, is not alone in practising such moral equivocation.
For the past 30 years, Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Heritage Minister
Sheila Copps and every other so-called "practising Catholic" in the
federal cabinet have gotten away with flouting the solemn teaching of
the Catholic church on abortion.
Now, at last, some Catholic bishops in Canada are finally beginning
to fulfill their responsibility to call these errant "Catholic" politicians
to account, clearly and unequivocally. In reference to Martin's failure
to uphold Catholic teaching on marriage, Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe,
president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, pointedly observed:
"A politician cannot be totally schizophrenic. If he is, he is not being
In response to such clerical rebukes, Chretien insists, "There has
to be a separation of church and state." That's nonsense. The hierarchy
of the Catholic Church is not trying to run the government of Canada.
It's simply saying to Catholic politicians that they should not be hypocrites,
claiming to be Catholics, yet flouting the basic moral teachings of
the Catholic church.
Would that the leaders of Protestant churches were no less forthright
in rebuking their wayward parishioners. As it is, most clerics who have
not already embraced the apostate teachings of the courts are all too
reluctant to speak out publicly in defence of the controversial moral
precepts that they know to be true.
Granted, any would-be prime minister of Canada who nowadays avows the
traditional principles of Judeo-Christian morality is likely to go down
to defeat. So be it. To paraphrase Calgary's forthright Bishop Fred
Henry: It's a foolish Christian who would pursue electoral success at
the risk of eternal salvation. Rory Leishman is a columnist with the
London Free Press, where this article first appeared Aug. 9.