Your Faith, Your Vote 2016
by Christopher Dodson
Executive Director, North Dakota Catholic Conference
Your Faith and Your Vote
Each election cycle the bishops of North Dakota issue a guide to help Catholics through the voting process. It begins by summarizing the process a Catholic should follow when moving from faith to the actual vote. In addition, the bishops identify important issues for this election year, which are presented in the form of questions to ask the candidates.
Below is this year’s guide with questions to ask the state candidates. To easily email these questions directly to your candidates, go to yourfaithyourvote.org. The website also has questions to ask about the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and the Presidency.
As people of faith and reason, Catholics are called to bring truth to political life. Faith helps us see more clearly the requirements of a good society, namely respect for the dignity of all human life and a commitment to the common good.
A well-formed conscience equips us to address political questions. “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. . . . [Every person] is obliged to follow faithfully what he [or she] knows to be just and right” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1778). We have a lifelong obligation to form our consciences in accord with human reason, enlightened by the teaching of Christ as it comes to us through the Church.
The questions listed below can help Catholics make moral and prudential decisions about candidates and public policies. Please use this when contacting candidates. Some issues are more important than others. Some concern policies, like attacks on human life, that a Catholic can never support. Catholics can legitimately disagree about how to address some other issues. All the issues, however, deserve our attention.
Find out the candidates’ positions on each of the issues. Look beyond party politics, analyze campaign rhetoric critically, consider the character and integrity of the candidate, and examine political leaders according to the principles of your faith.
When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the voter may take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.
Catholics have an obligation to participate in the democratic process. Remember to vote and, no matter what the outcome, become involved in the legislative process. One way to get involved is by joining the Legislative Action Network at ndcatholic.org.
Where does the candidate stand on:
Right to Life & Dignity of the Human Person
- Protecting unborn human life and committing state resources to ending abortion?
- Preserving the state bans on assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, and human embryo research?
- Preventing state funds from paying for abortion and abortion advocacy?
- Allowing individuals and businesses to offer services to the public in accordance with their religious beliefs?
- Providing the highest level of legal protection for religious freedom without unduly infringing upon the legitimate and compelling interests of the state?
- Supporting pregnant women and the life-affirming centers that serve them?
- Respecting the freedom of parents to educate their children, especially in matters of moral development?
- Enabling parents to choose the best educational setting for their children?
- Opposing policies that force government agencies, businesses, charities, and schools to accept false gender ideologies?
- Ensuring access to health care while respecting human life, human dignity, and religious freedom?
- Preserving and promoting programs that help the poor and most vulnerable members among us, including those with disabilities, mental illnesses, and chemical addictions?
- Ensuring safe and affordable housing?
- Criminal justice reform that allows low-risk non-violent offenders an opportunity to receive services for mental illness and chemical addiction instead of incarceration?
- Providing safe havens for properly-vetted refugees, regardless of race, nationality, or religious affiliation?
- The right of local communities to regulate for the common good?
- Policies that ensure a just wage, economic initiative, and the right of workers to form associations to collectively represent their interests?
- Policies to protect and foster family farms, rural communities, and good stewardship of natural resources?
- Economic development that respects families, the community, creation, and the dignity of the human person?