If a man’s premise is false, he can argue from it eloquently and logically but his conclusion will, nevertheless, be false. Thus, first of all, one should always scrutinize with logic, reason and commonsense another’s premise, because if the premise seems faulty, then what argument follows is often not worth considering. Also, if a person’s premise is based on religious faith and faith only, then one should be skeptical of the believer’s arguments and conclusions; for faith has been aptly defined as an implausible hypothesis irrational held; that is, an improbable belief with no basis in reason.

Therefore, it behooves one to examine carefully the premise of any argument and judgment; and one should do so particularly with regard to pronouncements by popes, preachers and priests of whatever faith. And if it appears that the argument or judgment has as a premise one that is revealed truth or Holy Scripture, then one should with patience, persistence and particularity investigate its origin; for he will often find that what is revealed truth or Holy Scripture is nothing more than modern man citing ancient man’s opinions, arguments and judgments that have through the ages acquired the status of transcendental truth or God’s word.

The above is preface to the issue of the Catholic Church’s introduction of religion into politics. Certain bishops have decided that since Sen.John Kerry, a Catholic, is pro-choice, he should be denied the Holy Eucharist in their dioceses. One bishop has gone so far as to tell his parishioners “that by voting for pro-choice candidates, they are placing themselves outside the church and should not take communion, either.” Expanding his prohibition with an ear to Rome, the bishop also “warned Catholics against voting for any candidate who backs illicit stem cell research, euthanasia, or same sex marriage. But the bishop’s prohibition—in defiance of the pope’s position—did not extend to those who advocate the death penalty, presumably because the bishop believes that not even God is void of a tinge of vengeance—an assumption by clerics that God thinks like they do.

Whence do the pope and his bishops derive their moral premise that abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia and same-sex marriage are such sins that denial of communion and perhaps the loss of heaven is rationally appropriate and divinely warranted? Whence else is the derivation but the Bible, except for the chosen few who claim to have had a intimate colloquy with God and thus have first hand knowledge of God’s will? No controversy with the faithful terminates without the citation of Scripture; for upon Scripture, often minus thought and reflection, rests the foundation of the faithful’s Truth

What is the history of the Holy Eucharist, that sacrament that the bishops threaten to deny willfully disobedient Democrats, a denial that the Vatican proclaims jeopardizes their salvation? Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant preacher and radical thinker, enraged the religious Jewish establishment, which petitioned Rome’s Pontius Pilate to punish the scoundrel. It appearing to Jesus that his days were numbered, he had with his disciples in humble surroundings a last meal in which they broke bread and drank wine.

From this simple meal and the Nicene Creed evolved eventually a sacrament that was conducted in a cathedral that was a marvel of man’s works, built over centuries by skilled artisans, paid for by indulgences of the guilty rich and mites of ten thousand widows and performed at the direction of robed and staffed priests speaking a strange tongue while parishioners came forward and partook of a wafer and wine that miraculously became the actual body and blood of Christ.

On what basis does the church argue that Holy Eucharist is a ceremony to which God pays special attention and that in God’s view is so essential to salvation, that He in His infinite wisdom would deny a politician salvation because his politics deviated from the pope’s infallible absolutes? The basis or premise could only be one of faith; for there is no basis whatever in reason or common sense to believe that an omniscient God would deliver a person to hell for lack of communion or for the lack of any of the other sacraments the Catholic Church dispenses. Who today is intimidated by a bishop’s threat of denial of communion, or of excommunication, for that matter? Only those who fear social ostracism or social stigma or diminution of profits. In fact, to be candid, some would say to the bishop that he could take his communion and excommunication and do with it what an employee often wishes to tell his employer he can do with his job.

Jesus in his Sermon advised: “Judge not, that ye be not judge.” Christianity in spite of Jesus’s admonition, is a history of judgments, not only judgments but of bloody and horrendous executions of those judgments against those whose faith differed an iota from the majority. It is that history that inspired the First Amendment and the separation of church and state. Judging based on faith and the execution of the judgments has brought untold misery, death and destruction to person, peoples, tribes and nations everywhere on earth. And still does.

Faith regards another world and the hereafter. Reason and empathy should be the Gods of here and now. To judge on a premise that is faith-based is to judge speculatively and tenuously. No one should judge or advocate law based on faith alone. History is a Mt. Everest of evidence attesting to the evil of judging by faith and executing and implementing laws based on faith. Faith is for living not judging. If one’s faith is uplifting and reassuring with regard to now and hereafter, one should live it and be happy with it. But refrain from trying to impose upon others the dictates of it. No one is so omniscient that he knows God’s will so exactly that he can legislate laws absolutely consistent with it. Not even the Pope and his bishops.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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