Christian Behavior During Election Season

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

This is an attempt to describe what proper Christian behavior should be during elections. However, this is not meant to articulate an exclusively Christian behavior, since there's no such thing, given our complex human condition.
I'm sure many of us will have our ideas and opinions on how this Christian behavior should be, all of them with their valid points. My hope, in fact, is that everyone starts to express his views in this matter in public.

The idea is to increase our level of literacy regarding how a Christian citizen should behave in our political exercises. We need to know what attitudes, dispositions and virtues are needed, since we have to liberate ourselves from the inhuman morass our political activities have sunk into.

So far, we have been exposed to the ridiculous ways the political campaigns have been done. There's so much mudslinging, negativism, hatred-peddling. Polluting noises emit unabatedly from self-righteous ideologues, poisoned partisans and screaming faggots.

Reason, sobriety, objective discussions of issues, not to mention the requirements of charity and understanding in tackling matters open to several valid and moral opinions, are thrown overboard.

Things are made worse when opinions are converted into dogmas, while articles of faith and matters of conscience are held simply as opinions.

Some people manipulate truths, facts, data to suit their purpose. Freedom is twisted.

The distinction between the person of the candidates and politicians in general, and the views they hold and the actions they do, is recklessly blurred, leading to serious offenses against charity and freedom. Rash judgments explode in profusion.

Many politicians seem to metamorphose into monsters during the election season, using sly tricks and games, following the unscrupulous logic of greed and disordered ambitions. Conceit spins its own deadly yarn of creativity.

And a big part of the electorate, due to poverty, ignorance, apathy, etc., practically invites political abuses. Often complacent and remiss, they fail to see through many of the hidden selfish agenda of politicians. What a nightmare!

I think it's really up to us, citizens, to tolerate this state of affairs or not. I think we have the power to set the proper tone of our politics. Yes, we are part of the problem, but we also hold the key to its solution.

But for this to happen, we have to take our social and political commitment more seriously. We have to get our act together. We need to understand that for our social and political commitment to prosper, we need to follow what the Church teaches.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read this relevant point:

"It is necessary to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him." (1888)

Then to reassure us that this teaching is not ineffective as many people feel religious doctrines to be, the same point continues:

"The acknowledged priority of the conversion of the heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it."

We have to understand that only in God can we learn to be truly concerned about the common good. Apart from him we simply are at the mercy of our subjective, whimsical ideas.

Our social and political commitment necessarily calls us to action, first with our own selves, and then, among ourselves. Many initiatives can come to mind.

Like, having an independent body that systematically gives a thorough backgrounder of the candidates, providing personal, family and professional information, citing their pluses and minuses.

This is to help voters have an idea of the candidates' integrity and competence. Simply depending on the data given by partisans will take us nowhere.

And an ongoing formation for all citizens should be undertaken, especially explaining the finer points of prudence in politics, respect for freedom, and the like.

Fr. Roy Cimagala is the Chaplain of Center for Industrial Technology and Enterprise (CITE) in Talamban, Cebu City. You can email him at: roycimagala@hotmail.com