Monday, February 6, 2017

An Open Letter to Catholics Who Voted for Trump

There may have been many principled reasons not to vote for Hilary;
let's make sure those same principles guide reactions
to the Trump administration's executive orders.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Concern for life at its most vulnerable stages, for protection of religious liberty, and for the defense of marriage and family were obvious principles which could have guided you to help elect Donald Trump.  Principles of Catholic Social teaching, such as the fundamental dignity of the human person, the call to solidarity and concern for the common good, may have also influenced your vote.

You are neither "anti-women" nor "anti-Latino"; you are not an "Islamophobe" or a "Homophobe." You love Jesus, and you love being part of the one authentically multicultural and global community in the world--the Catholic Church.  You are also deeply grateful for the privilege of being an American citizen. 

But after years of watching executive orders, Supreme Court decisions and mandates from the federal government erode and eviscerate inalienable rights--and after years of obstinate refusal by the federal government to afford conscience protection to those who disagree with the prevailing social agenda--you joined a majority of Catholics in the U.S. in supporting Trump.  It was most likely a matter of resistance.  You may not have even liked him as a candidate, but maintaining the status quo was not an option.

Now what?

Trump has given you a favorable executive order on the Mexico City policy, to stop our country from exporting its abortion and contraception agenda to developing nations. In addition, it looks like Supreme Court nominees will stand opposed to judicial activism. This is good news. But the question is whether you will continue to help demand that the Trump administration be faithful to the core principles which motivated your support for him.

In other words, will you simply allow the new ruling party to impose its will on the nation (isn't this how you felt the previous administration conducted its business?), or will you hold the Trump administration accountable for prioritizing rights in relation to fundamental realities and corresponding responsibilities?

For example, the right to private property is not absolute, but is limited by the universal destination of goods and the responsibility for the common good. Therefore, for the American family to isolate itself from the world, in the name of self-preservation, would be to act like we don't have a responsibility for helping other families around the world flourish. How will you help resist this temptation facing the Trump administration?

Analogously, a nation's right to regulate its borders and control immigration is not absolute; it is limited by the fundamental human right that people have to migrate and by the responsibility the United States has to assist those forced to flee political or economic injustices. As you properly defend the family--and highlight the importance of the family as the essential foundation of society--how might you insist on a principled, pro-family approach to immigration?

You spent the past number of years decrying how radical secularism has been established, de facto, as the new state religion, and you clamored to have the free exercise of religion protected.  Will you now stand by the principle that religious liberty is a fundamental human right, and not allow the issue to be co-opted by those who would want to act like our enemy is Islam, rather than radicalized Jihadists? Just as you resented that "reproductive rights" were used to rationalize trampling on other more fundamental rights, so you should not allow concern for "safety" to justify new injustices.

These are trying times, indeed, but you have a view of issues that could help exercise positive influence on the Trump administration.  You are not just "haters," but you are ready to stand in solidarity with those who sincerely want to make America an even greater nation. The 2016 election was historic, but the real work lies ahead--and you need to help prevent the conversation from devolving into mere partisan politics. 

May God bless America with a deeper vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--


P.S. Here are a few ways that the Catholic Church is moving forward with principled responses to the Trump administration: