Every once in a while I get overly interested in a topic. I make google alerts, follow certain columnists on twitter, and bother my wife about everything new that I’m learning. For example, the “Mormon Moment” dominated much more of my mind than it really should have. The gun control debate is another example of an unnecessary, media-driven obsession that I have. One that remains relatively consistent, however, is abortion. I consider myself to be a moderate on abortion (like pretty much everything), buying into Clinton’s (and Obama’s) suggestion that it be safe, legal, and rare. Safe and legal because we all know of instances where it’s necessary for the health, be it mental or physical, of the woman. I say mental because of the rape/incest issue. Rare because, as a person who really does believe that protecting lives should be the ultimate goal of any community, I can’t help but worry that a relaxed opinion about abortion is damaging to society.
My two most current newsy obsessions converged yesterday, with a column in the New York Times. Laurie Goodstein reported that in the wake of the Newtown shooting, and a midst Friday’s March for Life – a pro-life demonstration that takes place yearly in front of the Supreme Court building – over 60 Catholic priests, nuns, scholars and even two former ambassadors to the Vatican sent a letter calling for stronger support of gun control legislation. In order to defend life, they said, they must be willing to support legislation that could potentially lower gun deaths in this country. They called out Republicans like John Boehner and Paul Ryan, as well as Democratic Senators like Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, asking them to stand up to the NRA.
They aren’t just asking for the easy stuff either. They want bans on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, two proposals that haven’t been terribly popular but are increasingly gaining support.
“I accept the Catholic teachings, which promote the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.” Wrote Thomas P. Melady, a conservative Republican who once served under Bush 41. “certainly the death of the 20 young kids and 6 adults in Newtown was not natural.”
The fact they are using their own religious ideology is probably frustrating to some people. Much like the religious conservative arguments against gay marriage that upset those on the left. Personally, I think it’s too impossible for me successfully separate the environmental and cultural factors that gave me the opinions I have. I like recycling because I’m from Oregon. I believe in welfare programs because of my time in Brazil as a missionary. And I believe in progress, personal and political, because I’m a Mormon.
Maybe saying you support gun control legislation because you are Catholic is an inappropriate form of political involvement, but I’m more than willing to accept it.
Blessed are the peacemakers, indeed.