Monday, October 10, 2005

The flip side of bias for Catholic candidates for public office

Equal to Catholic bias for Supreme Court justices within conservative insiders, the faithful face political prejudice when they try to win elected office in Bible Belt states.

To illustrate, after watching the debate between Republican governor candidate Jerry Kilgore and Democratic candidate Tim Kaine on C-SPAN for the Virginia race, it was obvious Kilgore was trying to make political hay out of Kaine's personal religious beliefs as a devout Catholic.

The recent ruckus over newly appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and whether or not he would ensconce his own religious convictions into case law makes it difficult to reconcile Kilgore's attack on Kaine and the death penalty when measured against unanimous support by Republicans for Roberts, another Catholic, who persumably agrees with church doctrine.

Here's what Kaine had to say on the matter during the debate: "I'm against the death penalty and abortion. That's what my church teaches and those are the beliefs that I've come to believe in 47 years of adult life. I don't apologize for my religious belief, and I'm not going to change my religion just to get elected."

To which Kilgore replied: "While I was busy abolishing parole and bringing truth in sentencing to Virginia, he was busy trying to abolish the death penalty."

Kaine has the better philosophy. Virginia's lovefest with the death penalty is a disgrace to humankind and justice. For example, new evidence that exonerates a death row inmate must be submitted within 21 days or it is inadmissible; and there is ample evidence the Commonwealth has executed more than one innocent person in the past.

Only a few years ago, as attorney general, Kilgore tried to destroy evidence in a California laboratory that could prove Roger Coleman, a man killed by the state in 1992, was wrongfully executed; the laboratory refused to turn over the DNA and the evidence is still being safeguarded by Edward Blake, "a nationally known authority in forensic DNA analysis who conducted tests on the evidence in 1990."

"I'm not sending it anywhere," he told the state when they tried to force him to ship it. "It's my work product."

In yesterday's debate, Kilgore besmirched an entire religion by equating noble tenets as a mark of weak character; and showed a total lack of moral discernment while promoting even more crimes to the already too long list of crimes punishable by death.

Society problems cannot be solved through easy answers and 15-second political sound bites. In an overwhelming one-party state, it takes a strong leader to address and try to solve complex issues, not a Richmond party hack or rubber stamp who vilifies an opponent's religion for political gain.

The 21 day rule is insane, has that made its way to the Supreme Court yet?
I do have a problem when a politician uses his religious convictions to make a political point. When he gives his reasons as “That's what my church teaches” for any political issue I have a problem. You can have strong religious convictions but you cannot bring them into the political arena. It has become common but it is not right.
There are plenty of reasons to be against the death penalty, those reasons need to articulated. If I were a voter in Virginia it wouldn’t convince me at all if the reason to be against the death penalty was because the Catholic Church said so.
Kilgore was George Allen's hatchet man when Allen was governor.

I guess Kaine knows it's a losing proposition to argue the merits of the death penalty when the stupid electorate just loves to fry them.
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