As a political quasi-junkie, I have at least kept up with a current coverage of the Iowa and New Hampshire presidential debates, polls, etc. Huckabee has made an apparent surge in Iowa, amidst the question of Mitt Romney's religious beliefs and perhaps amidst Rudy Guliani's religious "un-beliefs." The question is, how should the candidates' various beliefs influence our vote, as Catholics? More to the point should Catholics consider voting for Rudy for President because he's Catholic, and not for Mitt because he's Mormon?? (Sorry Mr. Huckabee, we'll get back to you in a bit)
Here's the way I look at it, and I would be interested in other opinions. First of all, I wouldn't base my vote on the faith of the candidate, except to the extent that the strength of their belief might influence their performance and decisions in the White House. I don't really think that having a Mormon president would endanger us to suddenly wake up to find an LDS majority in Congress. Having said that, however, I do think Romney is being purposefully coy about some of the major tenets of his faith. To be delicate, the origins and history of the Mormon church are... "interesting." Romney has been more than happy to let the media defend his faith for him, without having to actually step up and give an account of exactly what Mormons believe. In a nutshell, Mormons are not Christians if your definition includes a Triune God. Romney is thus running for President of the United States and he's not a Christian, but is rather passing himself off as a Christian. In his case, it's a matter of personal integrity: he is simply being (passively) dishonest.
Now on to Guliani, with this caveat: judging another when it comes to God and righteousness is risky business; we may not truly know their heart when it comes to faith and beliefs. But in the case of Rudy, we do know that he claims he is Catholic but he's liberal on abortion. Some of his other actions also point to a cafeteria-style Catholicism, but again for all we know he is completely reconciled with the Church on those other topics. Here again, Rudy likes to say he's Catholic but doesn't necessary like doing what it takes to be in full agreement with the Church.
Political expediency: 2 Personal integrity: nil
So, how to navigate the treacherous waters of the electorate? Romney is (at least now) pro-life and Rudy is pro-choice. Both play fast and loose with the explanation of their religion. Does Huckabee trump them both by being more open about his faith, assuming he is more open after all? All three of them have been executives (one big-city mayor and two governors) which is good training for the Presidency.
My opinion: Rudy is OUT as a weak-lemonade believer. Romney and Huckabee remain IN for now. There are a few other candidates available so maybe one of them will emerge as a better choice for Catholics.
Let me know what you think!
P.S. This is all about Republicans. Think about the same questions for Democrats; are there ANY Dems who offer a decent choice for Catholics???