Can a Church Hold Its Members Accountable? Tobin v. Mathews (Video)


Is it wrong for a church to hold its members accountable? That is the real question that has been brought to the forefront, as the Catholic church addresses its members, who happen to be Congressmen and women, that seem to not take their faith seriously. Blinded by their liberal ideology, the left will do anything they can to advance their agenda, even if it means turning their back on the teachings of their church and it seems the Catholic church has had enough of it. The church asked Patrick Kennedy to stop taking communion in 2007 because of Kennedy’s actions on abortion legislation.

This week on Hardball with Chris Mathews, Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin was vigorously questioned by Mathews on the churches position.

Since when did John F. Kennedy become the standard for how we must measure the people that we choose to represent us? Mathews brings up Kennedy as if he were the end all be all in the debate over how ones religion should affect ones personal decisions. Do I think that there are congressmen and women that allow their religion to affect their decisions? Yes, and that could very well be one of the main reasons why they were elected by the people that they are supposed to represent. Mathews brings up this quote from John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on religion:

“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish–where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source.”

That is how former President Kennedy believes he should act when it comes to his actions in public office, something that I strongly disagree with. Whether or not he should allow his beliefs to influence his decisions is completely up to him, he has that right. But just as he has the right to not allow his religion to influence his actions as a public official, he can just as much allow his religion to influence his decisions, who‘s to say he can‘t. I think that a person will be elected because they want to uphold a certain moral values within society or they don‘t, and if they are not elected, it shows that the people do not agree with what that person will do.

The nature of voting on something means that at some point you will have to disagree with someone’s position and push the values that you believe in. Whether its influenced by religion or something completely subjective is beside the point. “This isn’t about values” Mathews tells the Bishop, with all due respect, it is about values. Values are certain principals that are accepted as something that should be upheld within society. All law imitates from values. In regard to abortion people have different values, which proves that the argument, while about law, is also about values, as law is shaped by values. Do we not get our laws that punish murder from a certain value that say’s that it is not good to murder another human being? Do we not get our laws against stealing from a value or principal that says that it is not good to steal from another human being? This is about values.

But that is all tangential, we must center this on the original question, is it wrong for a church to hold its members accountable? I say no. If a person is freely joining a church they should know that a church can freely kick them out. If the church does not agree with what they are doing they can tell them to leave. And that is not even happening in this case, the Bishop just doesn’t want Kennedy to receive communion, he is still allowed to be a member of the church.

Contrary to what Mathews say’s the Bishop and the church is not meddling with the law and has not “gone into the area of law making” and has not “assumed an authority” anymore than a voter does when he or she elects a certain person to represent them. The church is a separate entity from the government, and that allows them to take certain stances on public policy, though it cannot tell an individual how to vote or who to vote for. But this case is unique, they are not addressing Kennedy as the individual, but Kennedy as the man who works as a public servant and his actions as that public servant.  Kennedy is freely a member of the Catholic church and the church can recommend whatever it wants to its members, who once again are not forced to join. Kennedy is Catholic that happens to be a congressman, would it be any different if there was a plumber that was an open adulterer that had to be dealt with? No. Kennedy has made his choice and the Bishop believes that he is openly contributing to murdering innocent people, how can he honestly allow that to go on in his congregation, he can’t and obviously he won’t.

I don’t happen to agree with the Bishop in regard to abortion. I do not think that it should be outlawed all together. First, the power needs to be given to the states to decide what happens with abortion. I do think that abortion should be outlawed for the purpose of convenience. I don’t think that a woman should be able to have an abortion just because its not “cool” to be pregnant or its socially degrading to walk around with a baby. And the evil that is partial-birth abortion should be outlawed all together. However, I do think that we need to at least allow for the doctor to make an educated decision as to which patient has a viable chance of surviving, either the mother or the baby, provided something goes wrong with a pregnancy. That doesn’t mean that we should always put the mothers life before the babies, it should be whoever is more viable, which sometimes might be the baby. The left likes to use “the life of the mother” issue as a way to make current abortion law seem more useful than it really is, just so they can keep it on the books. Don’t get me wrong, the life of the mother matters, but to me, just as much as the life of the baby.

What should the punishment be? Again, that should be handled by the states. And as we all know there are different degrees of punishment, perhaps there should be a different punishment for partial-birth abortion and another for a regular abortion. This is all something that would have to go through the process of becoming law on the state level. Should jail time be involved, probably not, but it is nonetheless being punished somehow and is using the law promote a values within a culture that cares about life more than convince.

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