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The President and the Pope

More and more reports reveal that some ultra-conservative members of religious organizations had an illegal hand in the 2004 election.

One of the agendas that has opened some eyes are the sermons from many a Protestant and Catholic pulpit to vote Republican in last November’s presidential election.

Besides the usual suspects of “Protestant Patriots” like Jerry Falwell, Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network and James Dobson of Focus on the Family, the name of the new pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, should be added to the mix.

Sidney Blumenthal, in his April 21 column “Holy Warriors,” says following President Bush’s June 4, 2004, visit with Pope John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church made a conscious effort to get Sen. John Kerry defeated. The visit was purely part of the political campaign.

Blumenthal says Ratzinger sent a letter the week after Bush’s visit to U.S. bishops stressing those Catholics who were pro-choice on abortion were committing a “grave sin” and must be denied Communion. The pastoral letter was read from pulpits, repeating the ominous suggestion of excommunication.

“The case of a Catholic politician consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” could have only been referring to John Kerry. So to vote Democrat in the presidential election was thereby consorting with the “forces of Satan, collaboration with evil.”

In 2004 Bush increased his margin of Catholic support by 6 points from the 2000 election, rising from 46 to 52 percent. Without this shift, Kerry would have had a popular majority of a million votes. Three states–Ohio, Iowa and New Mexico–moved into Bush’s column on the votes of the Catholic “faithful.”

Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy was right when he spoke Sept. 12, 1960, in Houston. He said:

“I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the president–should he be Catholic–how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Britt Towery is a retired missionary. His opinions appear in the Brownwood Bulletin in Brownwood, Texas.