Should fundamental religious differences between Catholics and Protestants influence our vote?

I’ve given a lot of thought to religion and politics over the years and in my humble opinion one has squat to do with the other. That said I do realize I’m in the minority. It’s pretty clear from various polls most Americans feel a candidate with deeply held religious beliefs would make a better leader of the free world. With that in mind I wanted to breakdown some of the basic differences between the 2 major religions represented by the 2016 Presidential candidates to see if those differences might give us a window into how religion could potentially sway decision making in the Oval Office.

Just for the record, I am aware that just because a person is affiliated with a particular religion doesn’t mean they buy into it hook, line & sinker. We can pick and choose what we want to believe, what principals we want to stick to and what we think is a load of crap. Some politicians are especially good at embracing religious doctrines that support their views and objectives and ignoring or downplaying those that don’t. The truth is we’ll never know all of the answers about religions influence on political outcomes. Maybe we can at least learn when to ask the questions.

 For the sake of this article I want readers to try to pretend we live in a world where conservative candidates extolling the virtues of their religious background would, in office, stay very true to its fundamental belief system and be guided by it in making policy decisions.

Let’s start with the fact many Protestants agree that Islam is a false religion. Would a seriously conservative Protestant in the White House believe 1.6 billion people (23% of world population) follow a false god? Could that ideology influence political decisions in dealings with Islamic countries? Would that necessarily be a bad thing? Demographers say Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet and Muslims may well outnumber Christians within the next 50 years. Conservative Catholics are seemingly more accepting of other religions and the Pope has given high praise for Islamic values.

Catholics believe in the infallibility of the Pope whereas Protestants don’t think he’s all that special. Would a staunch Catholic President have a problem taking an action that would be in direct conflict with a Papal edict?

Conservative Protestants believe that homosexuality is morally wrong and that it’s a result of poor parenting or other environmental factors. They feel one can simply choose not to be gay or in some cases be “cured” of it. Catholics believe that homosexuality, in and of itself is not a sin but to act on it (anything other than total celibacy) is a sin. Would a Protestant President be any less likely to grant a Presidential pardon to a gay person or to appoint an openly gay man or woman to any office?

Catholic doctrine says abortion should never be performed under any circumstances. Most Protestants believe that abortion should be permissible in cases of rape or incest. Would a Catholic President look less favorably on any legislation tending to support a victimized woman’s rights?

Generally speaking, Catholics are opposed to the death penalty and Protestants are in favor of it. Would a pro-death penalty administration tend to undermine or reverse years of progress gained by anti-death penalty activism? 

Conservative Protestants generally believe that aside from Christianity all religions are worthless, dangerous and demon-led. Catholics think most other religions hold at least some kernel of truth but just don’t get the big picture. Would a conservative Protestant Presidents belief in his or her religious superiority have any impact on foreign policy decisions? 

Protestants believe that salvation (being saved) is a one-time event. Once saved you are always saved even if you commit an abominable sin. Catholics believe that salvation can be repeatedly lost and then re-gained through penance.  In either case you can sin your little heart out and still end up with a clean slate!

It sounds like a belief system that was custom made for politicians!

Published by Bill Hoover