I probably should start this piece of commentary by pointing out that I am myself a Catholic, because I think that Catholic philosophy makes more sense than any other religion. St. Thomas's and other Catholics' proof for God's existance is quite good in my opinion and makes a lot of sense. I also think that Catholics have the best interpretation of the bible, and I agree with just about all of the underlying philosophies at the root of the religion.

The problem, however, is whats on the surface. Over my years its become harder and harder to figure out what the hell is actually going on. You have the pope saying one thing, some crazy archbishops saying something else, wacked out theology teachers preaching stuff that makes you wonder if they want you to stop believing in the religion... and everyone else who has some authority and an opinion.

So who are you supposed to believe?

There are so many variables in the religion that I still can't comprehend. Take for example confession.. you confess your sins, a priest intervenes, and God forgives you as long as you make a penence. Now, the whole concept of penance confuses me as I've had everything from attempts to reform my life, to things as simple as praying for the priest's family, or praying for American troops overseas.

Catholics never could quite agree on whether the Iraq war was just or not. Apparently, some types of war are OK in the eyes of the church. Sophomore year we had articles from one bishop saying the war was just for x reasons, and then another bishop with the exact opposite argument. Catholics try to be so 'pro-life' but everyone seems to forget about that time when Catholics killed all those Spanish people... or that time when they sat out on the sidelines during the Halocaust... or that the Catholics justify the death penalty and wars...

You have to concede that at least some Catholic priests are homosexual, and you have to concede that at least some Catholic priests are not perfectly chaste. So why does the Church have such a strong stance on banning gay marriage? Some priests disagree with the Church's stance and refuse to preach against gay marriage at mass. In fact, it seems like differnt priests do a lot of things differently. Some don't like to have people shake hands or exchange peace during mass, some skip all the songs so the mass can only last 15 minutes.. the list goes on. The point is that recently there has seemed to be a lack of uniformity.

And so I finally get to the question I want to ask... why is the Church attempting to take back control of the political system? After the distribution of Bush/Cheney stickers at school the other day, the shit kinda started to hit the fan. It seemed like everytime a Kerry supporter and a Bush supporter got in an argument it was the same thing:

Kerry guy: Bush launched an unjustified war when there were no weapons of mass destruction
Bush guy: But Kerry doesn't even know his stance on the war, he voted for the 87 billion before he voted against it.
Kerry guy: At least he knows the war was wrong and wants to fix the problems.
Bush guy: *awkward silence*... baby killer!

The sad thing is that the whole abortion issue is mostly the doing of the Catholic and other evangelical churches, and they portray the issue to seem like voting for Kerry is a vote for death and that it'll send you straight to hell. And thats fine for them... but the downfall of our two party system is that making this argument causes everyone to support Bush.

I laugh everytime I see stickers around school that say "vote pro-life". What does that actually mean? A vote for bush is a vote for the war... death of thousands of soldiers, innocent Iraqi civilians; its a vote for a man who executed the most people in Texas history; and its a vote for the death of the environment. A vote for Kerry is a vote for the right to choose... either way you look at it, somebody is going to die! So I guess voting pro-life means not going to the polls and instead praying for a miracle that can make a difference.

Bush had a GOLDEN opportunity in yesterday night's debate to prove that he really was sincere about making abortion illegal. The question was asked, "who would you appoint to the supreme court?" This was Bush's chance to tell America that he would appoint a judge who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. This was Bush's opportunity to tell America that he sincerely felt abortion was an issue that needed to be changed. Instead... he said he would appoint a justice who was against slavery. wtf? and that he would support a justice would wanted to keep 'under god' in the pledge. Any conservative, moderate, or moderately liberal judge would support those things. He then went on to say there would be NO litmus test for choosing based on political isssues.

I guess its a sad day for Catholics, to realize their 'pro-life' candidate really doesn't care that much, and that its now a complete shot in the dark whether anything can happen during the next four years. Personally, I agree with Thomas Frank's argument in the book Whats the Matter with Kansas?. In a nutshell, one of the thing Frank argues is that Republicans have been able to win the hearts of evangelicals who aren't especially political but feel strongly about issues like abortion and gay marriage, they tune into Rush Limbaugh and go to church and are convinced these are the only issues worth voting on. The problem is... once these issues actually get changed, these evangelicals will have no incentive to vote Republican anymore, and they'll either stop voting, or start voting on economic and other social justice issues. They'll realize that the democatic pary care significantly more about protecting blue-collar jobs and supports social justice and programs to help the poor. And lets face it... both the Republican and Democratic party wants to be in power, giving up a significant chunk of the base would be devestating.

So in essence, Bush has more to gain by keeping abortion legal and campaigning against it. For the past four years Bush has had Republican control in both houses of congress and yet you didn't read a whole lot about him pushing pushing a lot of anti-abortion bills. He brags about the partial birth abortion ban he signed. But what did that thing really do? It stopped one of the extremely few partial birth abortions performed in extreme situations such as to save a women's life. Partial birth abortion was pratically 99% illegal before bush signed that bill, and yet evangelicals think this is the best piece of legislation to ever pass through the congress. Even the ACLU concedes that partial-birth abortion is not a medical term and doesn't apply to any type of legal abortion procedures.

I thought John Kerry's explanation as to his stance was very clear during the debate. It amazes me to see the number of people who automatically discredit anything he says because he isn't strictly and openly against abortion. The issue of choice is an issue of what the state can and cannot tell and make people do. I am stauntly against smoking and drinking, and I think they're problems that cause massive social problems. But I don't think that the state should tell people they aren't allowed to do these things. I can, however, try to tell my friends not to do these things and try to personally get people I care for to stop.

I give John Kerry credit for being open and honest about his stance on these things. I am quite disaapointed that so many support Bush for what they think he is going to do, as am I with the Catholic church for trying to get its hand back in politics. Sadly, in 4 years, regardless of who the president is, when everything is the same as it is today, I'm sure I'll be hearing these same bad arguments as to why I should vote Republican and save a life.