Religion and politics: an unholy alliance

Joey Vines

The debate between the Quinnipiac Democrats and the Quinnipiac Republicans was held a few weeks ago in the cafeteria. It’s safe to say that even fairly biased individuals (such as me) thought the Republicans won the night. The hot topic of the night was actually social issues such as capital punishment, abortion rights and stem cell research. I would like to discuss each of these issues.

Stem cell research has been all over the media in the past few months, particularly since the death of actor and activist Christopher Reeve in mid October. The Republican Party, specifically, the religious right, is against embryonic stem research because they claim that scientists are destroying life to create life. This may, in fact be true. However, what the Catholic Church and Pat Robertson neglect to mention is that the embryos that are to be used for stem cell research are already harvested embryos from couples who are pursuing in vitro fertilization. The eggs that are left over from a couple’s trials are poured down a sink drain.

The other hot social issue during this campaign has, of course, been abortion rights. Now that President Bush has been reelected to a second term liberal democrats fear that he will appoint enough Supreme Court Justices to overturn Roe v. Wade. One of the biggest misconceptions in American politics today is that overturning Roe v. Wade will end abortion in the United States. The only thing overturning Roe v. Wade will do is move abortions from the hospitals, where this procedure can be done safely under sanitary conditions by trained professionals, and move it to the back allies and dark street corners of the country.

One of the things that President Bush kept saying throughout this campaign is that he believes is a culture of life. Yet while Mr. Bush was governor of Texas; he had more people executed, than any other governor, from any other state that endorses capital punishment in the country. And why isn’t the religious right slapping President Bush on the wrist for endorsing capital punishment?

President Bush and the religious right are perfect examples at to why religion has no place commenting on politics and politicians have no place commenting on religion. It makes me angry is when the religious right takes these stances on social issues and claims that their assertions are based on religion. If their position on the right to life is based on religion, then why do they not say a word when President Bush’s record on capital punishment is called into question, or claim that embryonic stem cell research is taking a life, but not crying foul when hundreds of embryos are poured down the drain every day, denying people like Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve the science that could save their lives, essentially sentencing them to death. That’s not a culture of life. These stances on social issues have nothing to do with religion. They have everything to do with a biased political agenda. I am a devout Catholic, and in my mind using God as a front for a political agenda is reprehensible.

Twenty-two percent of people polled on Election Day said that they are basing their vote on which candidate had better values and morals, something that government ultimately has very little control over. Many pundits are saying that John Kerry lost the election because of the gay marriage issue. We have to stop letting the social issues drive the political agenda. The religious right has too much of a hold on our politics today and it is not a good for democracy. After all, making sure that there is a roof over your head and food on your table, and knowing when your children overseas will be coming home are moral issues too.

Bobby Kennedy often said “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and ask ‘Why not?'” We need to get back to that era in America, where people talked about issues and not candidates at the dinner table. We need to start thinking beyond our potential and before we ask more of the global community we need to ask more of ourselves. It’s time to start thinking and dreaming again in America.