Dallas And Fort Worth Bishops Take Stand Against Obama

Bishops Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Kevin Vann of Fort Worth issued a pastoral letter that was read from the pulpit at all Catholic masses over the weekend. As you will see, it is thoughtful, clear, and unambiguous. I’ve received anecdotal reports that many people walked out of their churches in response, which I’m sorry to hear. My reaction is entirely different. The Catholic heirarchy in the United States has often seemed muddled and intimidated, perhaps because its members did not have the intellectual capacity to take on the prevailing ethos. If one believes abortion is an intrinsic evil, as the Catholic Church does, it should  fight it, as these two bishops have now done. I disagree with them prudentially (to use a favorite Catholic term) but I admire them for speaking out.

The reason I disagree is that this battle over Roe vs. Wade is now in its 45th year, and achieved very little. The decision will not be overturned, even by a conservative Court. There will be no Human Life Amendment. Therefore, those of us who oppose abortion need to rethink how to engage the larger society in reducing abortion and limiting its effects. One other point: The bishops in this letter shove aside all other Catholic social doctrine to focus solely on the questions of abortion and civil unions. That is not my reading of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, but it is theirs and it might be yours. Regardless, the two bishops have set a marker, and I am thankful for it. It is their job, and I am glad that we now have bishops who know how to do their job. Our job, those of us who are Catholic, is to respond prayerfully and thoughtfully in the depth of our own understanding to what they have to say.


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54 responses to “Dallas And Fort Worth Bishops Take Stand Against Obama”

  1. Little Miss Haughty says:

    Interesting…Where were these two “leaders” when the inherently evil action of sodomy was being undertaken and covered up by the members of the archdiocese? If they are against abortion and euthenasia, try adding the one sticking point the catholic church and the the DFW church has categorically failed to address appropriately.
    Also, why cannot a member of the church be against rape and choose to support the option of abortion in this instance? Not only is this an appropriate moral choice, this is a sticking point for many of us who actually have a brain we choose to use for ourselves without being force fed a doctrine.

  2. Jason says:

    I think the day has come where church’s are now backing a candidate. They no longer fear litigation. This past weekend at my church, Fellowship Church, pastor Ed Young made a biblical case for a conservative candidate. Next weekend, he’s actually going to choose a candidate by name….

  3. Nitpiker says:

    I thought churches couldn’t do this without risking their tax-exempt status. Remember the case of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasedena, CA? IRS launched a formal investigation after a sermon condemning the war during the ’04 election cycle.

    Still, maybe the Catholic church is part of this test-case effort …

  4. Noah says:

    If they can endorse a candidate, they should pay taxes. A Jesus bailout, if you will…

  5. Little Miss Haughty says:

    All of this religious politicizing makes me year for a real preacher like Robert Tilton or perhaps his uptown version Joel “cha-ching, cha-ching” Osteen!

  6. JS says:

    I’m no expert on the laws in this regard, but the letter does not endorse a candidate. Instead, it is a statement of religious doctrine as applied to the duty to vote. Although there obviously is an implicit message in the letter, I suspect they stayed far enough from the line so that this is an acceptable expression of religious opinion that does not imperil the Chruch’s tax exempt status.

  7. Wick Allison says:

    To Miss Haughty: Those leaders were not here when the actions you describe took place. As you may recall, D Magazine was the strongest voice against the then-bishop and led the movement for his resignation. If you don’t recall, a simple google search will help.

  8. For the record says:

    Well written, Wick.

  9. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    An honest question: Anyone watching Daystar, CBN and other TV Chrsitian Broadcasting Networks knows that there is not a dime’s worth of distinguishing separation between proudly political partisan programing and these religion based shows. Where it is clearly defined that conservative candidates are countering the devil’s ‘hate America’ evil.

    How is that legal for either party to be sanctioned from the pulpit and/or on the airwaves, unchallenged by the separation of church and state statutes? How can that not affect tax exempt status? It was my lifelong belief that this was not allowed.

  10. topcad says:

    If Ed Young from “Live On Broadway!” Church, I mean, Fellowship Church actually names a cadidate, then my Grapevine brethren should have their tax-exempt status revoked immediately.

  11. parochus says:

    You disagree with them “prudentially”? What sort of moral equivocation is that? Should combating racism (another intrinsic evil) have been abandoned because it took some time to get from slavery to freedom to equal rights? I don’t think so. The Church has seen intrinsic evils promoted for 2000 years, and it has consistently taught the Exact Same Thing. I don’t know what you’ve been reading, but from my vantage point, the tide is turning on abortion – especially as the pro-choice crowd continues to abort its progeny and future constituency. BTW – Roe v. Wade was 1973. Your math needs work.

  12. News Junkie says:

    Prolifers should spend more time helping out single parents and underprivileged kids then attempting to foist their beliefs on the public.

  13. Gwyon says:

    “especially as the pro-choice crowd continues to abort its progeny and future constituency.”


  14. The Other Marty Cortland says:

    Oooooh, my achin’ head.

    (“Henry Wade’s Taint” still might be the best unusued band name out there, though.)

  15. wes mantooth says:

    FWIW, that letter was definitely not read at the 9:15 Mass at All Saints on Sunday.

  16. Catholic and Not Apologizing for it says:

    Like Wick, I applaud the Bishops for issuing this letter and making clear to their flock the Church’s teaching on these issues. It is high time that the Church’s leadership counter the creative (though unsupportable) interpretations of Catholic doctrine offered by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, both of whom claim Catholicism but seem to think they are free to interpret it as they see fit.
    As for the issue of “religious politicizing,” it seems to me that Democratic candidates have been climbing into pulpits for decades without much complaint from anyone.

  17. sick says:

    Don’t these churches risk their non-profit status by backing political candidates? The IRS should get involved here.

  18. Long Memory says:

    Thank God for our Constitution. I think that every time I start to consider that it might be a good thing for the churches to pay taxes so they can make their voice heard on political matters. In exchange for the churches staying out of the political arena, those long-dead Deists offered the churches protection against the government. If the churches are ready to give that up, then More Power to ‘Em.

  19. towski says:

    @ Catholic and not…

    I would seriously question any religious dogma that makes you think you are not free to question the church or interpret its teachings.

  20. Catholic and Not Apologizing for it says:


    The separation of church and state is a constitutional doctrine that limits the government’s ability to tell each of us how to live and what to worship. It is not a doctrine that has any application to what each of us is entitled to think, nor does it require that people of religious faith (Catholic or otherwise) check their faith and their consciences at the door of the voting booth.
    Like most Catholics, I despise the child abuse that occurred and hope to see anyone who was involved in that abuse brought to justice. I do not think that those events deprive the millions of Catholics who had no role in the those events of the right to retain and practice our faith, nor of the right to proclaim that faith.
    As it happens, our faith (like most) teaches that rape and sexual abuse are both wrong. It also (like most) teaches that killing innocent humans is wrong (whether those humans be found walking around independently or developing with the body of a woman).

    I dare say that your dispute is with the message, not the messenger.

  21. Believer says:

    Bush is anti abortion, yet he is for execution. Our economy is a train wreck and our governmentis full of liars and cheats.
    We are in a religious war that was totally unjustified. Our young people are being killed on a daily basis as are the young Muslim innocents of those countries we are fighting.
    Yes, we hate abortion like good Catholics do but there is a lot more at stake here. If you read the document the Bishops of the US wrote you will get a great deal more information.

  22. Kirk says:

    I attended Mass on Sunday–got there early, no less–and do not remember anything like this letter. This letter seems pretty darn long to be reading during Mass.

    My mother is no longer Catholic, and I remember like it was yesterday when she walked out of church during the reading of just such a letter. In general, I agree with her that people should be able to choose how to vote for themselves. But, make no mistake, abortion is and should be a sin for those involved. But if voting for a Democrat makes one a sinner by extension, then I’ve got a lot of confessing to do.

    To those of you who are calling priests rapists and pedophiles, I wish you would appreciate the larger context of the priesthood. These are very honorable men who serve their communities. And while some may be bad apples, mis-characterizing them all is quite an ignorant act. Texas has a long history of anti-Catholic prejudice, and stereotyping the priesthood certainly does not show any improvement upon that.

  23. Miss Haughty Rules says:

    My friend,
    Texas has a loooong history an anti-non heterosexual white male prejudice, so you will have to get in line with that philosophy. Your attempt to gloss over something like sexual child abuse, while suggesting that a woman doesn’t have the right to choose might be a reason behind the continued prejudice.

    This is part of the process of distraction. Look over here, not over there. The Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest groups in the world. Why is it necessary to have a Vatican City when you also have a Darfur?

    The fact that rapist and pedophiles run rampant in the Catholic church is one issue, the COVER UP is another. You are bascially hiding from the facts in order to keep the business of moral police going. Then you wonder why the church is empty. Stop throwing stones from your glass church.
    You can set an example by not raping children. Is that too much to ask before you start setting the moral agenda for the rest of us?

    Reading a letter like this in chruch is illegal. Period.

  24. Bethany says:

    I don’t know … I just don’t think that you should be told you’re not a good Christian if you don’t vote a certain way.

    I mean, if you’re going to take a hard-line approach to the Bible, I believe Jesus said his followers were of no part of this world, and refused to take part in any of the politics going on when he was alive.

    So if you’re going that route, you wouldn’t vote at all.

  25. CBS says:

    @Miss Haughty Rules- please cite any law that makes this “illegal.” Does it impact the church’s not for profit designation? Possibly. Is it illegal? No.

    Seems to me this again is much ado over little. The leaders of a church, just as any other entity should have the freedom to support a candidate, position, or political ideal. It seems like free speech trumps any concern over maintaining any division between church and state.

  26. Catholic and Not Apologizing for it says:

    Miss Haughty:

    What legal analysis leads you to conclude that reading a letter like this in church is illegal? What ordinance, statute, or constitutional provision does it violate?

    No one is trying to “gloss over” child abuse. By the same token, your accusation that “rapists and pedophiles run rampant” in the Church is at best hyperbole.

    Finally, to your prior point about Pelosi and Biden, my issue with them is that they have misrepresented undisputed Catholic teaching in order to further their politic interests. If they want to support abortion rights, they are entitled to do so — they just ought not try to convince the electorate that they can do so and somehow still be faithful to the Catholic church. They ought instead to show the courage of that conviction, leave the Catholic church, and find a faith that endorses their view of this issue.

  27. Kirk says:

    If you’re going to insult my church like that, then please do not refer to me as “My friend”. I insulted no one in my comment, and tried to act as a peacemaker. I suggest you re-read my comment.

    Your comment shows off several common fallacies. I will address just two:

    “you wonder why the church is empty”

    My church has 6-7 Masses every Sunday. If the pews were empty, they’d lower the number of services, no? My previous church in Richardson (St. Joseph’s) is quite large and constantly fills up several services every Sunday as well. You’re clearly more influenced by the movie Dogma (a funny movie, to be sure) than by actually going to a Mass and seeing people celebrate. Clearly many people leave the Catholic church every year, and this is a problem, but not nearly as much as you characterize it.

    “The Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest groups in the world.”

    You confuse wealth in revenue for wealth in disposable income. I’ve seen estimates that there are 1 Billion Catholics world-wide. While I’d expect there are fewer active ones, there are certainly an awful lot of people working for the church. This doesn’t leave an enormous disposable income. Does the Catholic Church have a huge presence in Darfur? Not large, but it is there. Sudan, after all, is a Muslim country, and a dangerous one at that for missionaries. Sudan needs peacemakers before it can use missionaries. What you don’t mention are the thousands of missions in very poor areas of Africa and Latin America.

    The molestation charges against members of the church are significant, to be sure. But when you have a large organization these problems happen, especially when you have a unique situation like the priesthood. It is unfortunate, to be sure, and must be dealt with, to be sure. But I find your stereotyping unnecessary and ignorant of everything the Catholic church is doing. It is one thing to read the bad things that go in the newspaper. But newspapers don’t cover all the good that gets done, do they? They don’t profile the hundreds of priests in the Dallas area that have given their lives to the community: those who have chosen not to marry, to have children, to have the benefits of wealth. These are sacrifices that the heads of most churches do not make. Your comment clearly ignores the good in favor of insulting the bad, and I think that one-sided analysis shows off a significant ignorance.

  28. CBS says:

    so you’re saying it is illegal and it’s not illegal…very confused. How does an individual writing a letter that states he has a position on a political hot button issue (and something the church has a right to oppose) somehow violate the division line of church and state.

    Must be my simpleton mind that doesn’t make the connection; muchleap like I do not believe our current President is responsible for my fate in this world. Somehow, I think Congress, hedge funds and a few other fine folk played roles in the current state of the economy.

    Oh well, off to contribute to society.

    Enjoy your Monday.

  29. Nate says:

    Even I’m not Catholic and Miss Haughty’s remarks offend me. The Catholic Church is very closely related to the Protestant Christian Church, with the major differences in doctrine, philosophy and environment. However, there are very similar tenets, such as the opposition of abortion (an act of killing innocent human fetuses) but to some degree, supporting the punishment of wrongdoers, such as murderers.

    If Miss Haughty knew her church history, she would know that Protestantism stemmed from Catholicism. So in a linked, but limited, way, President Bush speaks from both churches. His opposition to abortions and fetal stem cell research (which has yet to produce any usable results) and his support of stronger justice and punishment within the courts fit into both churches. It is rhetoric-only complainers like Miss Haughty that give Democrats a bad name.

    Come to us with a sensible, tangible argument, and we will listen. Until then, do some homework. Please.

  30. Dave says:

    It’s good to see the Church take a political stand OTHER than opposition to the war in Iraq.

    I was in Catholic high school in 2004, and had a teacher tell me that I’d go to hell if I voted for G.W. Bush that year (my senior year, I was 18).

    Those who are so offended when the Church goes after Democrats on abortion need to remember that it went after Republicans just as well in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.

    Of course, Democrats are to stupid to see things that way, and so are their voters.

  31. The Other Marty Cortland says:

    A question for the group.

    It seems to me that Miss Haughty’s last post was Too Over The Top: even in light of her recent posting histrionics.

    Anyone else sense that maybe we’re getting Punk’d?

  32. Bill M. says:

    A little clear thought, please:
    All churches that are worth the name aim to inform the moral consciences of their members. That’s pretty much what churches do. That, and worship. Churches are not debating societies.
    The Catholic Church regards abortion as a grave moral evil and so teaches its members. Nothing in the Constitution forbids the Catholic or any church to teach its members. On the contrary, to do so would violate basic Constitutional law.
    The Bishops’ letter was a clear instance of such teaching. It reminds Catholics of their Church’s position on human life. Members of the Catholic Church — or any other church or religion or ethical disposition — do not abandon their sense of morality when they enter a votng booth.
    Much of the bloggery above goes on about the Church’s wealth, the abuse scandal, and so fourth. None of this has anything to do with Catholic teaching on abortion. You can assert that it does. But it doesn’t.
    Finally, the doctrine of any religion is best left to members of that religion and their clergy. Don’t agree? You’re free to choose some other religion or no religion at all. But you can’t challenge that religion’s right to teach its own members.

  33. Billusa99 says:

    Nate, I am Catholic and your remarks offend me. Specifically, the tying together of the Protestant/Catholic split in the times of Luther, and representing that in “…a linked, but limited, way, President Bush speaks from both churches.” is about as wild-eyed disingenuous as one can get.

    So, let’s leave Lord Pi$$y Pants out of it and stick to the Bishops’ letter. Which is off-base as far as I am concerned.

    Come to us with a sensible, tangible argument, and we will listen. Until then, do some homework. Please.

  34. Bethany says:

    It’s really risky for a church to actively endorse a candidate. Reminding its flock about its values is one thing – but a full on endorsement is another.


  35. Puddin'Tane says:

    Fake Courtland: some of us do love to play Devil’s Advocate.


  36. in vain says:

    I guess Wick is only a half-Catholic. I find it humorous that Wick is also a theologian who is smart enough to interpret Church doctrine when it benefits him. What else does Wick not agree with in his church doctrine?

    Wick, you support Obama. Obama is evil since he supports abortion. Therefore Wick is evil. Makes sense to me.

  37. Puddin'Tane says:

    Perhaps we should apply logic and reason in all matters of faith, including this topic and forget the label hanging over the door of any particular Christian church.

    The question to ask is:

    Does any political stance or opinion taken by any person granted a leadership role within the Christian Community meet the standards of the teachings and example of Christ and will that opinion inspire, better or protect the Human Family?

  38. Baba Looey says:

    This is just another good reason for not allowing Catholics to vote in U.S. elections. We cannot let the Pope run this country. Those who adhere to the papist superstition need to decide if they are citizens of the United States, or not. If not, don’t vote.

  39. Little Miss Haughty says:

    Hey folks please note my comments stopped at 10:47 a.m. I am not responsible for the spin-off Haughty’s!
    As an aside to Nate, I actually am well aware of the development of the Protestant church as a result of Lutherism and Henry VIII. I am opposed to two things;
    1) Any religion telling me what I should think and say (unless they are serving kool-aid aboard the spaceship) and 2) the people who don’t have the spie to exercise freedom of opinion and stand up for themselves.
    Let the churches say what they want during service, but then they should pay for that opportunity.

  40. Little Miss Haughty says:

    Pardon et moi-Lutheranism!

  41. The Haughtiest says:

    Pleased that so many of yoU find my Nonsense a bit funKy and onE sideD!

  42. Puddin'Tane says:

    Miss Haughty: “Let the churches say what they want during service, but then they should pay for that opportunity.”

    I believe they already have paid for it- beginning with the Romans.

  43. Dubious Brother says:

    Listen to what the people in Harlem think about Obama’s stand on abortion:


  44. Bethany says:

    Really? ALL the people in Harlem?

  45. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    Ugh…(thinking) would that include Bill Clinton who offices in Harlem?

  46. KRM says:

    You rock, DB. There really should be a basic knowledge quiz that all voters should have to pass before they can vote. That would eliminate most of the ACORN vote. Baba-booey! Baba-booey!

  47. Joe Blow says:

    I’m sorry but Wick Allison is wrong. He is wrong when he said, “It is their job, and I am glad that we now have bishops who know how to do their job.”

    It is not the job of a Catholic Bishop to inform the congregation of how it ought to vote. If it does so from a religious pulpit then it ought to be subject to the taxation laws like everyone else.

    The reason 501c3s and churches are limited and in some cases forbidden from promoting candidates or specific legislation is because if they did so, then it would set up tax free political organizations. Right now your donations to 501c3s and churches are tax deductible. Your donations to political parties and PACs are not. To allow churches to endorse candidates creates a loophole that not only creates a way for big money spenders to unduly influence people with a tax benefit but it cheapens the very faiths which are claimed to be professed.

    Its a bad idea and people with faith and without ought to be against it.

  48. Mark says:

    The Bishops did not endorse a candidate. Due to recent confusion set forth by Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden regarding Catholic doctrine it was necessary for the Catholic Church to clarify the Church’s position on the subject of abortion. Unlike what Pelosi thinks, this position has never and will never change. Also, compared with the more liberal churches that continuously speak out on political issues yet still some how sustain their tax exempt status, I hardly think that the Catholic church is in jeopardy of losing theirs. If you are Catholic, and support a candidate that endorses abortion, then you are not in communion with the Church and should refrain from holy communion at Mass……if you ever go.?
    For all of you Protestants this might be hard to understand since if you don’t like what your Pastor says then you simply go to another congregation that thinks the way you do or interprets the bible the way you want it to be interpreted. For Catholics, we all share the same values and morals from one congregation to the other. If you find a Catholic Church that endorses abortion….then they are not truly Catholic and are not in communion with the Church. And unlike a majority of countries, they can choose another faith if they don’t like Catholicism. Try switching from Muslim to Christianity in an Arab country…ouch!

  49. Joe Blow says:


    …yeah right… And I’ve got some ocean front property in Nebraska for sale.

  50. CG says:

    One thing that has always bothered me is that the Church is more concerned with the unborn than the born. Protecting fetuses and embroyes is noble, but let’s focus on the people who are already here, and who are suffering, starving, and homeless! Historically, the Dems are more supportive on civil rights and social programs. I think that is the real moral choice.

  51. CG says:

    And yes, I know how to spell embryos.

  52. MCH says:

    The Church is concerned with the born – with civil rights, homeless, poverty and other social issues. Just look at some parish websites and you will see work being done in those areas. From what I have been hearing it is a matter of sanctity of life being the paramount issue.

  53. nmlhats says:

    Several of my fellow parishioners have written to our local bishops, who just put out an an incredibly harsh pastoral letter that was read from the ambo on Sunday. Up to two dozen people got up and walked out. This is not the understanding we had of Faithful Citizenship–which actually tells us not to be single issue voters. I wish the Dallas and Fort Worth bishops would really give more than lip service to the intrinsic evils other than abortion. Or that they would consider how the array of positions of a candidate might do more to promote a culture of life than simply making abortion illegal.

    Some Catholics in Dallas have written the bishop, begun protests and created an online petition drive:

    Speak up!! Speak out!! Change the conversation!!

  54. AbelNEY says: