Among the speakers at the "Values Voter Conference' were most of the Republican Presidential candidates. The effort of the Republican establishment to handpick the 2012 Republican nominee is failing. The group called "Values Voters" certainly shares many of those values with people like me, a Catholic, from Dorchester, Massachusetts raised in a blue collar family, who has been in exile from the Democratic Party since it sold its soul to that strange alliance which now leads it.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - On the weekend of October 7 - 9, 2011, thousands of people gathered in the Nation's Capital to hear speakers address the current cultural, moral, economic, spiritual, and leadership crisis facing our Nation.
Among the speakers at the "Values Voter Conference' were the Republican Presidential candidates. Hopefully, the effort of the Republican establishment to handpick the 2012 Republican nominee is failing. The candidates are now engaged in a robust and volatile primary contest to determine who will oppose the current President, Barack Obama, in one of the most important elections in American history.
Some may feel my tone is too "strident" when I refer to our current situation in the United States as a "crisis". I am simply being blunt. We are in a crisis - and anyone with open eyes will not deny it. I have written before - and reiterate today - the 2012 election will determine the future of the American experiment in ordered liberty.
The "Values Voters Summit" was sponsored by FRC Action (formerly American Renewal), the non-profit and tax-exempt legislative action arm of the Family Research Council. The Conference represents an effort to ask whose values will form the foundation for our nation's future?
The media coverage of the event has been disappointing. The first allegedly "breaking news" story I saw from the mainstream media was actually an effort to "gin up" a news story out of comments made by one protestant evangelical pastor. He expressed concerned that Mitt Romney was a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
The LDS church membership of Mitt Romney has been known for years. The position of most mainstream Christian communities concerning the theology of the LDS church is also well known. Neither of these matters is newsworthy.
The positions which the candidates are espousing on the major issues of the age is what is truly newsworthy. Sadly, the reports concerning such important information are sorely lacking. That is why the alternative news sources, such as this one, will do what we can to report on those issues as we approach this critical presidential election.
I did not attend the "Values Voters Conference" conference for many reasons. However, I believe it is important. The group being called "Values Voters" these days certainly shares many of those values with people like me, a Catholic, from Dorchester, Massachusetts raised in a blue collar family, who has been in exile from the Democratic Party since it sold its soul to that strange alliance which now leads it.
The "Values Voters" effort is clear about acknowledging its members and its positions. Consider this comment in a recent article written by Tony Perkins for the Washington Times entitled "Values voters are key to election win" Tony Perkins is a gifted and impressive man. He serves as the President of the Family Research Council, whose action arm hosted this conference. He gave this accurate assessment of the goals of the movement and its primary constituency, evangelical protestants:
"President Obama knows what this election is about. It's about values - about whose values will govern America's future. Speaking to the Human Rights Campaign last weekend, Mr. Obama said: "I have to make sure that our side is as passionate and as motivated and is working just as hard as the folks on the other side, because this is a contest of values. This is a choice about who we are and what we stand for. And whoever wins this next election is going to set the template for this country for a long time to come.".
"We have heard some say that this election year, candidates can safely tune out "values voters" because only the fiscal issues "really matter." But the numbers don't lie. A Barna survey from April 2011 finds that evangelicals continue to represent nearly half of Republican primary voters. Thus, they hold a significant sway over who is chosen to be the GOP presidential nominee.
"Values voters are not only a large voting bloc, they are a consistent voting bloc. Barna notes, "Evangelical Christians distinguished themselves by their consistency. The issues that mattered to evangelicals in 1992 are the same issues that matter to them today." Some might pass this off as being out of touch, but as Barna explains, "Evangelicals' perspectives have remained stable, because they're based on a worldview that doesn't shift with the ebb and flow of cultural preferences and fads."
"The GOP presidential candidates recognize and support these timeless values. They are all pro-life. They all support marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The candidates who have strayed from these core values have owned up to it. This is important as well, in that all candidates know they cannot win the primary, let alone the general election, without the enthusiastic support of values voters."
"I must agree with Mr. Obama: The 2012 election is going to be a contest of values. Values voters - those who understand the intersection of faith, family and freedom - are determined to win this contest. Identifying the right candidate is the first step."
I have long been involved in efforts aimed at bringing faithful Protestants and faithful Catholics into action based alliances committed to building a culture of life, family, freedom and solidarity. I cut my activist teeth as "the Catholic Guy" at the meetings of the older expression of the "Values Voter movement". It was disparagingly called the "religious right" in much of the media. I attended events like the "Values Voters Conference" for years. I never felt comfortable as a Catholic Christian in the culture they seemed steeped in.
However, I strongly acknowledge the common goals I share with these evangelical Protestants who gather at events such as the "Values Voters Conference". I will also do all I can to work with them. At least the leaders of this current movement are acknowledging that what they are building is predominantly an evangelical protestant political movement.
What I - and other faithful Catholic voters who seek to act politically in a manner which our Church calls "morally coherent" - should do is stand alongside of these evangelical Protestant voters on the fundamental human rights issues of our age. We have much in common. Further, our Church, our Nation and our future as a truly free people require such collaboration.
For Catholics, it is time to build an effort which embraces the authentic Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church as its foundation for our political participation. The Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church is not only for Catholics, other Christians or even just "religious people". It is for all people and all Nations. It is offered by the Catholic Church to all who seek to build a truly just society and promote the real common good. This teaching is called "social" because it speaks to human society and to the formation, role and rightful place of social institutions.
The truths and principles it offers can be known by all men and women because they are revealed in the Natural law. They are expounded upon in Revelation. This social doctrine is neither "left" nor "right", neither "liberal" nor "conservative" - within the contemporary politicized use of those words. The Church 'walks the way of the person' and is an "expert in humanity". As the Body of Christ she continues the redemptive work of the Lord. It is in the humanity of Jesus Christ that we find revealed the fullness of the human person.
This social doctrine confronts what Pope Benedict XVI called the current "Dictatorship of Relativism" and insists there are unchangeable truths which can be known by all through the exercise of reason. They are found in the Natural Law. Those truths provide a framework for structuring our social life.
The foundational truth is the dignity of every human person at every age and stage which insists on the recognition of the Right to Life from conception to natural death. This human dignity is present in every person because we are all made in the Image of God. It demands respect for every human life whether that life be in the first home of the womb, a wheelchair, a jail cell, a hospital room, a hospice, a senior center or a soup kitchen.It demands as well a protection against the killing of innocent human persons from the womb to the tomb.
Another truth is that marriage is between one man and one woman, intended for life, and ordered toward the bearing and raising of children in the family. Marriage is not some social construct which can be redefined by courts or legislatures. It is the foundation for family and family is the first society, first church, first school, first economy, first government and first mediating institution of any just society. A just society will not only recognize this but always defer to the family as the smallest possible vehicle of governance.
Another truth is that all human persons created in the Image of God, are created for one another and called to community. We can never fully experience human flourishing outside of social relationships. These relationships are perfective of our human person. The human person is by nature - and grace - made for relationship. The first community which humanizes and civilizes us is the family.
The social doctrine rejects any notion of "freedom" which begins and ends with the isolated, atomistic, person as the measure of its application. Authentic human freedom must be exercised within a moral constitution, choosing what is good and what is true. Otherwise it becomes a counterfeit and enslaves. It must also recognize our obligation in solidarity to one another. We are our brother/sister's keeper.
The social doctrine offers principles to help us order our economies. It does not propose any particular economic theory. Rather it insists that every economic order be at the service of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and the family.
We are also called to give a love of preference to the poor, recognizing our solidarity with them. This call to solidarity is to be applied through the application of the principle of subsidiarity, rejecting all forms of dehumanizing collectivism. Catholic Christians are not anti-government but favor good government.
The market economy has been recognized in recent social teaching as having a real potential for promoting all of these goods - when properly understood and morally structured. However, the Catholic Church does not take a position on which economic theory is the "best" among many.
She properly stood against the materialism of the atheistic Marxist system. She properly cautions Nations which have adopted a form of liberal capitalism that there are dangers in any form of "economism" or economic materialism which promotes the use of persons as products and fails to recognize the value of being over acquiring.
The truths and principles contained within Catholic social doctrine are not merely "religious" positions, in the sense that only religious people need assent to them. They are revealed by the Natural Law and can be known through the exercise of reason. The truths are true for all people and for all time. The Church calls us to offer them as leaven to be worked into the loaf of human culture. We are called to build a just and truly human society.
What is obvious to anyone who places these positions alongside of many of the positions espoused by the attendees at the "Values Voters Conference" this weekend is our common ground. The mainstream media in the United States seeks to denigrate our allies in efforts such as the "Values Voter Summit". We must defend them against this attack. And then we must find a way to stand with them as we face the most important election in decades.
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