Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Rethinking Single-Issue Voting

 by Lisa Gulya

Tags: Spirituality, politics, Barack Obama, John McCain, abortion, Catholicism, Catholics, pro-choice, voting, Beliefnet, Commonweal,

It’s hallelujah-worthy: a thoughtful argument for abandoning single-issue voting. Catholics should examine all of a candidate’s stances regarding “intrinsic evils,” writes theology professor Gerald J. Beyer for Commonweal, not simply his or her voting record on abortion. “In the U.S. political context, where no candidate perfectly mirrors Catholic teaching on issues such as abortion, war, stem-cell research, poverty, discrimination, gay marriage, and immigration, voting should be a difficult matter of conscience for Catholics,” writes Beyer. 

Instead of automatically supporting John McCain as the stronger anti-abortion candidate, Beyer advises Catholics to look at a range of domestic and foreign policy issues before deciding which candidate acts more in accordance with Catholic values. “Not only is Obama’s position on the war and his strategy to end it more consonant with Catholic teaching,” writes Beyer, “but his vision for the place of the United States in the international community much more closely resembles modern papal teaching on international relations.” 

Beyer urges Catholics to consider supporting Obama, even though he doesn't encourage them to accept Obama’s pro-choice position. Instead, Beyer writes that Catholic Obama endorsers “should strongly encourage him to take steps to limit the evil of abortion.”