I am increasingly dismayed by the number of Catholics who support President Trump. At the March for Life earlier this year, most of those participating were not only “pro-life,” but were demonstrably pro-Trump. I have heard many Catholics, including the Archbishop of New York, praise Mr. Trump’s supposedly pro-religious values.
The president himself seems to believe he has the support of many Catholics. His campaign’s “Catholics for Trump” initiative, and his recent visit to the Saint John Paul II shrine, are attempts to promote this perceived connection.
What I want to know is why? Why are many Catholics loyal to this president, a man who is so transparently not Christ-like? He lies, he cheats and he foments racism. He would do anything to support his own selfish interests. While Jesus preached love, forgiveness, humility and acceptance, President Trump is the essence of selfishness, narcissism, hate and divisiveness. He could hardly be a worse example of Christian values. What makes this particularly puzzling is that Mr. Trump’s prospective opponent in the 2020 election is a lifelong Catholic, whereas Mr. Trump is known to be nonreligious.
Clearly, Mr. Trump’s support is rooted in the abortion issue, which dominates all others for many Catholic voters. Because Mr. Trump and his Republican disciples are on the anti-abortion side of the aisle, they are the ones regarded as the defenders of Christian principles. This is completely wrong.
I am a Catholic, and I do not for a minute believe that I must vote Republican to stay true to my faith. In fact, given our current political climate, I believe the opposite is true. Don’t get me wrong, I am decidedly anti-abortion. I find it hard to understand how those who support love, acceptance and the equal protection of all members of society can leave the unborn completely out of this equation. But there is more to being “pro-life” than merely being against abortion.
As a Catholic, here’s what I also believe: I am against the death penalty. I believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. I do not believe the government has the moral authority to take a person’s life, no matter how evil that person might be.
I am pro-environment. You can’t be “pro-life” without also believing we must do everything possible to care for this planet, which sustains all life as we know it. Addressing global warming and other environmental problems is a moral imperative.
I am in favor of gun-control. How can we say we care about the sanctity of human life while doing nothing to reduce our rising rates of both suicides and homicides by firearms? Unrestricted access to guns is not “pro-life.”
I am in favor of universal health care. This is a basic human right. If you truly value the sanctity of all human life, you should also support the availability of affordable health care for all people.
I am pro-immigrant. Valuing the sanctity of human life includes treating all people humanely, and with dignity. Does anyone truly believe that Jesus would support Donald Trump’s immigration policies? If so, then a refresher on the Gospels might be in order, particularly the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25.
The right to life also includes the right not to be suffocated by those who have sworn to protect us, and the right to peacefully demonstrate when human life is treated with callous disregard, as it was in the murder of George Floyd. Even Mr. Trump’s criticism of those who wear a mask in this age of COVID is “anti-life.” If you care about people, you advocate for their safety.
Finally, I am in favor of simple goodness and kindness. Everyone is worthy of basic human respect. Christians believe that all people are unique creations of God. They deserve to be treated as such. In contrast, President Trump is crude, condescending and simply mean. Constant disrespect to other people is not consistent with respect for life.
To those who believe you must support this president to be a good Catholic, please reconsider. Neither party has a monopoly on Christian values. There are good Catholics who are Democrats and good Catholics who are Republicans, but it is clear to me that the party more closely aligned with Catholic values is not the party of Trump.
Christians who support Mr. Trump are distancing themselves from the very essence of Jesus’ teachings. If Jesus were walking the earth today, he would not be wearing a red MAGA hat.
John A. Ralph (email@example.com) is a retired naval officer and licensed clinical psychologist.