Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Faith a complex factor  in US politics

To the editor:

A recent letter (“A Catholic’s call for pro-life president,” Sept. 29) beautifully illustrates how, in a time of complex economic, environmental, and political crisis, many people try to reduce an election to one issue that bothers one part of the population. The ongoing abortion debate is interesting, but anyone who thinks it is the most important issue is ignoring the millions of underemployed, the very high number of children in this country who are underfed and undereducated, the environmental disasters we are trying to prevent and the continued conflicts created by the age-old contest for access to the world’s limited resources.

As for the responsibility of all good Catholics ... well, perhaps the letter-writer was around in 1928, when for the first time a major party (the same party Barack Obama belongs to, by the way), nominated a Catholic for President. That was Al Smith, whose nomination prompted one Baptist pastor in Oklahoma to tell his congregation, “If you vote for Al Smith, you’re voting against Christ and you’ll all be damned!”

Catholics in the Bay State must have heard and decided to retaliate: While Herbert Hoover glided to victory everywhere else, Massachusetts was one of eight states Smith won. The others were Rhode Island and six in the Deep South, where, incidentally, the population was mostly Baptist or other Protestant.

Let’s accept the complexity of the decision and not reduce the vote to simplistic thinking.

John Stifler


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