Should Catholics be members of political parties? That depends. The Church doesn’t really have a definitive teaching on this, and because of that, it can be safely assumed that membership in a political party is permitted. However, that doesn’t mean that one SHOULD be a member of a particular party, or any party for that matter.
As a general rule of thumb, Catholics should look for disqualifiers when shopping for political party membership. What are these disqualifiers? There can be more than one, and the following list should not be considered as exhaustive, but these would be the top three disqualifiers in our time…
- Any political party that advocates for the killing of any particular type of person. Examples include, but are not limited to, the killing of people based on race, ethnicity, religion, politics, sex, age or gestational status. Yes, that includes abortion.
- Any political party that advocates for the political, financial or social marginalization of any particular person. Examples include the same as above.
- Any political party that advocates for attacking the Catholic Church, its members or its clergy.
These are the Big Three taboos for Catholics and political parties. And if any political party advocates for any of these three above things, Catholics should avoid it like the plague. That’s not to say that there might be more political taboos for Catholics. There probably are. These, however, are the top three.
Taking the Big Three taboos into consideration, in the United States, there is actually no reason, whatsoever, why a Catholic should be a member of the Democratic Party. NO… REASON… WHATSOEVER !!! Why? Because the Democratic Party violates the first taboo on the list, advocating for abortion-on-demand, and in some states, even euthanasia for the sick and elderly.
The second taboo is debatable, but the third taboo is present as well. Many Democrats want to tax the Catholic Church, and nearly all churches for that matter, which is a direct attack on the charitable function of the Catholic Church, and the financial livelihood of the Church in general.
This should be obvious. Telling a Catholic American not to be a member of the Democratic Party is like telling a German Catholic not to be a member of the Nazi Party, or a Russian Orthodox not to be a member of the Bolshevik Party. This would seem to be a no-brainer! Still, many Catholics in the United States choose to remain members of the Democratic Party, either by force of habit, or simply because they don’t take the teachings of the Catholic Church all that seriously. Some Catholic politicians, like Representative Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, are perfect examples of this. Both have been counseled by their bishops to refrain from receiving communion in the Church, so long as they hold to the pro-abortion position of the Democratic Party. To date, both Pelosi and Biden have ignored their bishops’ counsel on this matter. Based on actions, not words but actions alone, it should be obvious to any casual observer, that these two “Catholic” politicians don’t take the teachings of the Church seriously when they contradict the position of their political party. They are Democrats more than they are Catholics, and that should tell you something about the party right there. Any political party that demands allegiance to the party, over and above one’s religion, is a party that is dangerous and should be avoided. We all know that it is impossible for a Catholic to ascend through the ranks of the Democratic Party without ignoring the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion.
So while it is established that Catholics cannot be Democrats, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Catholics have to be Republicans. I’m not. I’m a Solidarist. While the Republican Party doesn’t violate the big three taboos above, and there is nothing wrong with it in that sense, there are still other options. Catholic membership in the Democratic Party, however, is a No-No. That should be crystal clear to anyone who takes their Catholic faith seriously.
Some political options for Catholics in the United States are…
- The Solidarity Party — This is probably the political party most aligned with Catholic teaching, and was actually formed by many Catholics working together to accomplish just that. It’s based on the Christian-Democrat model internationally. It is considered socially conservative, and fiscally progressive, a rare combination. Its mascot is the pelican, and its political color is orange.
- The Constitution Party — This is a Christian political party based on the conservative Protestant tradition. Yet, some Catholics are members, and the party shows no hostility toward the Catholic Church. It is both socially and fiscally conservative. Its mascot is the eagle, and its political color is purple.
- The Republican Party — Also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP) it was originally formed prior to America’s Civil War and was well known for its position on the abolition of slavery, and later for civil rights for black Americans. Socially, the Republican Party has vacillated between progressive and conservative positions. Fiscally, it has done the same. Its mascot is the elephant, and its political color is red.
- The Libertarian Party — This party is based on the Neoliberal Enlightenment concept of self-ownership and maximum freedom. It takes a “hands off” approach to most social issues, including abortion, refusing to address their morality or legality, while vehemently opposing the social welfare state. It is possible for a Catholic to be a member of this party, provided said Catholic militantly holds to the pro-life position, which the party allows. It is considered socially progressive, and fiscally conservative. This is the exact opposite of the Solidarity Party ideologically, and the Libertarian Party does occasionally run into problems with Catholic social teaching. Its mascot is the porcupine, and its political color is yellow.
- Independent or Unaffiliated — This is just the political position that any Catholic can take, which aligns said Catholic with no political party in particular. The advantage to such a position is it truly shows that one is a “free agent” politically, and beholden to no particular party or ideology. The disadvantage is that participation in the primaries is limited in some states, and one has to do one’s own homework on political issues without guidance or information from a trusted political resource.
Catholics should keep in mind that while membership in a political party can be helpful, it doesn’t lock one into voting for candidates of that party exclusively. For example, I am a member of the Solidarity Party. I support that party financially, and I promote that party on the Internet. I will vote for Solidarist candidates whenever they show up on the ballot. However, not many Solidarists run for office where I live. So when I don’t see a Solidarist on the ballot, I vote for another candidate, and I usually look for one that is most closely aligned with a Solidarist way of thinking. In my area, that usually means Republican. However, I will never vote for a Democrat, Green or Socialist, as all of those parties, and their candidates, usually violate one or more of the Big Three taboos above, and are in direct opposition to Catholic teaching.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.