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VP debate underscores that personal Religion shouldn't steer political decision making
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Dear Editor,
I watched the Vice Presidential debate between contenders Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. As an INDEPENDENT VOTER myself, I personally wish we had “different choices” on both major-party tickets---but I watched the so-called ‘debate’, nevertheless. I really expected Biden to put his foot-in-his-mouth. He didn’t. For the most part, although a little feisty, Biden kept his composure more dignified and restrained than usual. His facial contortions were quite lively and varied. Both men are Roman Catholics, as am I.
Young congressman Paul Ryan normally tows the hard-Catholic doctrine that a person cannot separate one’s private life from one’s public life in regards to public policy decision-making. I am glad that Vice President Biden correctly noted that individual personal faith can shape “values” or “morals”; but that he serves in a federal office where “Liberty and Justice for ALL” extends to people of other faiths, too.
Ryan repeated Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion: That it should be RARE and only in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother was at-stake. This is in stark contrast to Ryan’s hard-line belief that abortion shouldn’t be an option for a girl or woman who had been raped. I realize that Catholic bishops parrot what Ryan uttered. Yet, they use faulty logic. They forget their Baptismal Vows “to reject Satan and all his works”. I consider a rapist to be doing the Devil’s Work--and that a poor, victimized woman should be able to have that “Seed of Satan” removed from her body. She should NOT be forced to carry it; and Society shouldn’t be forced to monetarily support “bad fruit” arising from a crime. If the woman was shot by a bullet from a gun society would readily recognize her need to have it removed. The same principle should extend to the evil consequences of a rape. Sadly, Paul Ryan is too rigid in his thinking. That is why governmental decisions shouldn’t be clouded by faulty religious dogma (even if the supposed intention is well-meaning). The “big picture” must be analyzed.     
In 1987, I had a rare class at Wichita State University, which was cross-listed under two different college departments, Business Administration and Political Science, and it was titled: “Decision-Making”. It was taught by a former Governor of the State of Kansas, Gov. John W. Carlin, who is himself a Lutheran.  
Centuries ago, various European Nations were a theocracy where Bishops ruled with an iron-fist. We must not return to the misery of those failed systems. Well-intentioned religious guidance can easily spill-over into a totalitarian religious-dictatorship, if the peer-pressure gets too emboldened. Granted, we are a nation built on Judeo-Christian principles and traditions; however, our Founding Fathers did not want to see our citizens shackled into a totalitarian religious mindset, nor be coerced into marching in lockstep against their own free will and accord. America was built upon a foundation of “FREEDOM”...but let me emphasize “RECIPROCAL FREEDOM of Worship...whereby Religious worship wouldn’t be infringed upon...yet religious proselytizing wouldn’t be allowed to bleed-over to infuse narrow religious bias (or bigotry) in public policy or laws. We can keep genuinely sincere religious faith in our hearts without making it a gaudy or oppressive billboard in the public square. There is only so much room on the courthouse lawn or the capitol steps for signs, slogans, protesters, and demonstrations.   
This nation’s sputtering economy and high unemployment rates are largely due to one word: “Uncertainty”. I want to see the political bickering cease...on ALL sides. Both parties are to blame for passing the buck; borrowing heavily from foreign nations (such as China); and spending wildly. Much of the discord over health-care, taxation, and policy rests on the crux of the question of “Who Pays for it?”. In my view we need to follow the lead of the great actor, the late John Wayne who said we need to quit using ‘labels’ as hyphenated-Americans, and become TRUE Nation, Indivisible----composed of people who genuinely care about each other. As the late President John F. Kennedy correctly said: “God’s Work must truly be our own”. That means that preaching is fine in its own domain; yet, practicing the universal virtues that people of varying faiths can all (or mostly) agree-on is much much better. The United States must become more “united”---not by a collective public creed but by a culmination of individual COOPERATIVE morals, values, that motivates a person to keep himself/herself on “the straight and narrow”. I want the Christian-lawmaker to reach out in friendship to the Jewish-lawmaker or the Buddhist lawmaker...and “act in the best interests of the country”. Harmony is the strength and support of any polite, civilized society. America deserves better than we’ve experienced in recent decades.
James A. Marples,