Opinion: Blatant hypocrisy

Matt Vroom

Matt Vroom

By Jon Monteith

When I found out the second presidential debate was going to be in St. Louis, I was delighted. It was on a Friday night, and St. Louis was only three hours away.

Before I knew it, I was driving down with three friends to a debate-watching party at the St. Louis Convention Center. I was surrounded by thousands of John Kerry supporters, and we gloated throughout the debate as Sen. Kerry dominated.

Afterward, the crowd waited anxiously as Kerry made his way to the convention center for a post-debate rally. Eventually, the Democratic presidential contender took to the stage. The applause was deafening – I was shocked to see so many die-hard fans in a right-leaning state like Missouri.

All of the sudden, I was bombarded with hypocrisy. A line of charming Catholic protesters, many of them priests, stood just outside the convention center. One held up a sign that read, “We vote pro-life.” Another read, “Mr. Kerry, you say you’re a Catholic. Now prove it.” Throughout the debate-watching party and rally, they had stood outside with their signs.

Eventually, a huge crowd formed, and police officers had to intervene to protect the protesters. Kerry supporters, including Catholics, were enraged by the demonstrators. One Kerry supporter screamed, “Catholics are also anti-war, why don’t you support John Kerry for that?” Many people angrily reminded the demonstrators that Catholics also are opposed to the death penalty, and they should be supporting Kerry for his conviction on this issue.

I applaud the Kerry supporters for making a necessary point. Why weren’t these priests, who are supposed to be consistent in their support of the Catholic doctrine, picketing a Bush rally with signs condemning the president’s positions on the death penalty or the Iraq war? As church officials, it is not their job to pick and choose for political purposes, but that didn’t seem to matter to them.

No matter what a Kerry supporter said, the priest or protester would just look on silently, an arrogant grin on his or her face. Many of them were chanting the Our Father, as if that would do anything. We were getting in their faces, because we were looking at a line of hypocrites, and nothing was going to change that.

These “men of God” weren’t going to pray their way out of facing the facts. The Catholic Church firmly opposes the current situation in Iraq, as does Kerry. President Bush, on the other hand, firmly stands behind it. Wow, Kerry’s such a bad Catholic!

Pope John Paul II frequently slams the death penalty, calling it a grave sin. Guess which presidential candidate supports a federal moratorium on the death penalty? It’s certainly not Bush, who as governor of Texas set the record for most executions by any governor in U.S. history.

These protesters conveniently ignored the crowd when they were reminded of Kerry’s pro-Catholic record on many issues. Was this supposed to be an implicit endorsement of Bush? Did these demonstrators neglect to realize that Bush has conveniently changed his stance on abortion rights? In 1978, during a failed bid for U.S. Congress, Bush opposed the pro-life amendment and favored leaving the abortion question to a woman and her doctor. Sorry, Bush, but you’re the only “flipocrite” I see.

A majority of Catholics actually support Kerry on abortion, according to a survey conducted in June by polling firm Belden Russonello & Stewart. Of Catholics, 61 percent believed abortion should be legal. What gives a Catholic priest the right to make 2004 a single-issue election, particularly when Catholics are split on this issue?

John Kerry has fought for what he believes in as a Catholic, and I am sick of people saying otherwise. As any good Catholic should, he firmly opposes what is going on in Iraq and he passionately supports a federal moratorium on the death penalty. On these issues, Bush is basically out of sync with the Catholic Church. Keep that in mind, Catholics, when you go to the polls in three weeks.

Jon Monteith is a sophomore in LAS. His column runs Tuesday. He can be reached at [email protected]