By Jordan Jardine
As someone who identifies as both a left-leaning libertarian and a Catholic, I sometimes think of myself as an oddball. However, after doing some digging, I discovered something; I’m not as much of an anomaly as I originally thought. According to Pew Research, only 37% of American Catholics identify with the Republican Party or lean toward the GOP when voting. Regarding Catholic support of the Democratic Party, 44% of American Catholics identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democrats at the polls. 19% of Catholics in the United States identify as Independents/third party voters or have no particular political leanings in either direction. Though I am currently registered as a Republican, I would honestly put myself in the last category. Apparently 19% of my fellow Catholics feel the same way I do. I don’t blame them. Catholics have a relatively small voice in government. At the federal level, only 24 of our 100 Senators identify as Catholic. Only one president in United States history, John F. Kennedy, has been a Catholic. It is common knowledge that Kennedy was a Democrat, so if he were alive today, he would be included in Pew’s 44% statistic. I used to be part of that 44%, but I’m now part of the 37% and want to be part of the 19%. Though I am liberal on most social issues, I agree with the Catholic Church that abortion is morally reprehensible. I believe it should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is in danger. That’s it. Though I have always supported the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry, I also believe that, since churches are private institutions, they have the right to deny performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples without the threat of government interference. Marriages are a church matter, and thus should be handled by the church. The problem with the authoritarian left today is they don’t understand the difference between bigotry and belief in small government. As silly as it is to discriminate against customers based on race, religion or sexuality, I believe private businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone that conflicts with their religious or cultural beliefs. It’s not because I’m a bigot, but rather because I have a principled belief in having a centralized, bureaucratic state that stays as small as possible. Big government should never interfere with religious matters as long as they take place in private institutions. Public institutions are a different matter entirely. For example, I have never supported people like Kim Davis who work in local governments but don’t do their job because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. Davis should have allowed same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses because it is a matter of public service, rather than private service.
One of the most influential person breaking the stereotype that Catholics and Christians are stuffy social conservatives is none other than Pope Francis. Pope Francis is similar to me in that there are a few issues on which he leans more to the left, such as gay marriage (to a certain extent), wealth inequality, and environmentalism. Pope Francis has been met with mixed reception since he took over for Pope Benedict XVI in 2013. I, for one, hold a favorable view of Pope Francis on several issues. I think he is a remarkable man and I wish him nothing but success and prosperity. The great thing about Pope Francis is that he gives Catholics with views like mine a strong and influential voice. Though I have several disagreements with the Pope, he does offer a perspective on a few issues that the Catholic community rarely hears or expresses. I commend him for, as I previously stated, having a more open mind on the issue of gay marriage. Though the majority of the Catholic Church disagrees, I truly believe that God cares more about punishing murderers, rapists, thieves and frauds than punishing two consenting adults of the same sex loving each other and not bothering anybody else. If it is true that God has a plan for each of us, then the vast majority of gays and lesbians were born that way according to God’s individual plans for each of them. The Vatican should definitely recognize this, and Pope Francis is off to a decent start in terms of shifting the Church’s position on gay marriage in a more liberal and libertarian direction.
More social liberalism is great for the Catholic Church and could pave the way for the Church being recognized as a more accepting place that does not condemn people for who they choose to sleep with at night. It is our sacred duty as Catholics to offer our teachings and perspectives to as many people as possible. Therefore, if more people feel like they will be accepted by the Church, you may have a new influx of converts that will help the Church grow and prosper. This is not my opinion alone. As I said earlier, at least 44% of Catholics agree with me, so it is possible to have predominantly left-leaning views on social issues and still be a Catholic. No religion should be a one-size-fits-all entity because religions, while emphasizing a collective spirit, are comprised of individuals, so individual perspectives and characteristics should be openly embraced and accepted.