I was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic schools for 10 years. If there is one thing Catholics know about, it’s sin.
Mortal sins and venial sins are not unlike felonies and misdemeanors. Murder, rape, and adultery are mortal sins. The offender goes straight to hell, with no chance of parole. Lying to your mom about who ate all the cookies is a venial sin. The offender suffers awhile in purgatory, but eventually goes to heaven. Most sins involve violations of the Ten Commandments.
However, the 4th-century Christian monk, Evagrius Ponticus, listed sins not mentioned in the Bible. According to Wikipedia: “The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices, or cardinal sins, is a grouping and classification of vices within Christian teachings...they are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth....”
But wait—there’s more. There are also sins of omission.
The Confiteor is a Catholic prayer. It asks God’s forgiveness “...for what I have done and for what I have failed to do.” In The Catholic Telegraph (3/13/2019), “Catholic thoughts: Sins of omission: For what I have failed to do,” Jeanne Hunt writes: “We figure that reconciliation is all about those times we did something wrong like lying, cheating, losing our temper etc. What is missing are the things we ignored and silently choose not to do. These are called sins of omission. For instance, it is not that we deliberately lied, we just choose not to tell the truth, the whole truth.
“We can sit there doing nothing to right a wrong, help out, correct a mistake, or stop injustice. What is most challenging about sins of omission is that we can ignore doing the right thing and never get caught. It is up to our conscience to blow the whistle on us. James 4:17 makes it clear: ‘Anyone, then, that knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.’ It is time to ask our self the question. ‘Should I have done something? Did I just sit on my hands when God’s word teaches I should have worked for good?’
“We can’t go back and fix the times we failed to do something, but we can turn on our radar and be aware of those times when we must respond and do the loving thing. This is a tough change of heart. Serving the poor, speaking up when an injustice occurs, defending the moral choice etc. means we may be labeled, dismissed, and even persecuted.”
According to Wikipedia: “Trump’s political party affiliation has changed numerous times. He registered as a Republican in Manhattan in 1987, switched to the Reform Party in 1999, the Democratic Party in 2001, and back to the Republican Party in 2009.”
Due to his reputation as a playboy and unscrupulous businessman (con man), Trump was largely scorned by Democrats. Trump first gained the attention and respect of Republicans by claiming President Obama was not born in America.
According to ABC News (9/16/2016) “How Donald Trump Perpetuated the ‘Birther’ Movement for Years,” by Alana Abramson, Trump began making these false claims in 2011:
“Following a successful Conservative Political Action Conference appearance where Trump announced he is considering a run for the presidency, he begins appearing on talk shows urging President Obama to release his birth certificate and questioning if he was born in the United States.
“ ‘I want him to show his birth certificate. There is something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like,’ he [Trump] said in an appearance on ABC’s ‘The View.’ On ‘Fox & Friends,’ Trump insisted Obama spent ‘millions of dollars in legal fees trying to get away from this issue,’ and floated the idea on Bill O’Reilly’s show that the certificate could say the president is a Muslim.”
In the New York Post (8/16/2017) “Senator says GOP should have shut down birther movement,” Marisa Schultz reported: “The Republican Party should have done more to shut down the birther movement that Donald Trump led, one GOP senator said Sunday.
“ ‘I wish that we, as a party, would have stood up, for example, when the birtherism thing was going along,’ U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ”
Earlier Flake had called on candidate Trump to withdraw from the presidential race when the infamous “Access Hollywood” tapes (grab ‘em by the p) became public. Because of his criticisms of Trump, Flake lost the support of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Facing a probable loss in the primary, Flake chose not to run for reelection in 2018.
That is exactly what Jeanne Hunt meant when she stated that “speaking up when an injustice occurs, defending the moral choice etc. means we may be labeled, dismissed, and even persecuted.” Jeff Flake was dismissed and persecuted by President Trump and the RNC for speaking up against Trump and the Republican Party.
According to Trackalytics, @realDonald Trump has posted more than 50,000 tweets on Twitter since May 2014. CNN reports that in 2019 alone Trump attacked more than 100 people, including many Republicans, on Twitter. No one wanted to be the target of a Twitter attack by President Trump, especially Republicans.
Former U.S. Senator (R-TN) Bob Corker was a frequent critic of President Trump. Corker served in the US Senate from 2007 — 2019. He strongly supported term limits and retired after serving two six-year terms.
According to Wikipedia: “After announcing his retirement [in 2018], Corker intensified his opposition to President Donald Trump, accusing him of lying, debasing the United States, and weakening its global standing.”
Unfortunately, most politicians want to keep their jobs for life, and that makes them reluctant —or afraid — to speak out against injustice.
In The Courier-Journal (11/6/2020), “Mitch McConnell not critical of Trump’s baseless election fraud claims,” Morgan Watkins reports: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the 2020 presidential election Friday morning but did not directly address President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that it’s being rigged against him — and repeatedly refused to do so when reporters pressed him on the issue.”
Refusing to denounce wrongdoing is a serious sin of omission. How many Republicans—be they Catholic or Protestant or Jew or whatever—spoke out when Trump lied about election fraud, about Barack Obama, about coronavirus, about the Bidens, about China paying for the tariffs, etc? How many Republicans spoke out against Trump’s cruel and inhumane policy of separating children from their parents at the border? How many Republicans have denounced QAnon and its idiotic conspiracy theories? How many Republicans have spoken out against Trump’s refusal to concede the election and allow a smooth transition of power?
All of us are guilty of sins of omission. When politicians commit them, they are especially egregious.
Mark Heinz lives at Nolin Lake. Visit his website at amazon.com/author/markheinzbooks.