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  • Foto del escritorOrlando Márquez


I do not exercise the right to vote in the United States. That allows me to maintain a certain critical distance from the electoral political framework, the candidates and the campaigns. But I try to understand what is happening, in particular with the question of the Christian vote, today openly divided.

A Pew Research Center poll published on October 13[1] shows that, nationally, 51 percent of the nation's Catholics would vote for Joe Biden and 44 percent would do it for Donald Trump. The same numbers are reversed when it comes to answers from the Protestant Christians. Numbers vary substantially among believers of a different culture, thus white American Catholics favor Trump with 52 percent over 44 percent favoring Biden. But among Hispanic Catholics, 67 percent would vote for Biden and 27 percent would do it for Trump. At the same time, 78 percent of white Protestant evangelicals favor Trump, but the majority of black Protestants, 90 percent, would cast their vote for Biden.

No matter how questionable, variable or doubtful the polls are, these results would, in any case, reaffirm that the foundations of faith are not the only thing to determine the political choice of voters.

Religious leaders know it. That is the reason behind public statements from priests and bishops across the country talking about the importance of the vote. That is fine as long as this is only to appeal to the conscience of the voter and not to indicate who is “the candidate of the Church”. The Catholic Church welcomes everyone, no matter the political affiliation, although it is good to remember how important coherence between faith and life is. From the Church we have also seen different messages as was the case of the the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, when at the end of August a Catholic priest in a public video, rejected the political platform of the Democratic Party and stated that one “cannot be Catholic and be Democrat”; days later, the diocesan bishop also publicly corrected him saying that, despite “the undeniable truth that motivates his message (…) His generalization and condemnation of entire groups of people is completely inappropriate and not in keeping with our values or the life of virtue”.[2]

For Catholics, as for all who consider themselves Christians, our “user manual” is the Gospel itself. It was all said two thousand years ago. And the Magisterium of the Church can help us to better discern our actions and options each day. An example is the pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, proclaimed at the Vatican Council II. Its exaltation of the preeminence of the human being has no expiration date:

“[…] Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. […] Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator” (n. 27).

The same document assures that “respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them […] God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone"(n. 28).

That is the Magisterium of the Church, in which we say we believe according to the Creed that we pray. God did not put limits on our freedom, not even to reject Him, even if we later pay the consequences. Jesus did not force the rich young man to sell his property, give the money to the poor and follow him, He only proposed it and respected his rejection (Mt. 19, 16-26).

By casting a vote in such sort of marvelous madness that the democratic organization of society may be, I think that Christians participate in a civic but also in a religious experience: alone before God, confronted by one’s own conscience and a with a ballot in hand to be marked.

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