On My Excommunication

With this week's Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case bringing the intersection of faith and politics to the forefront of the national discussion, I feel compelled to respond to another intersection of the two in my home county. Last week I was outraged when the Republican Party county chair called for me to be excommunicated because I am a pro-choice Catholic. It was stunning because it is among my deepest beliefs that it is not one's place to judge another's faith.

My father passed on to me a simple set of guiding principles that I have tried to pass on to my children. We call them the four Fs: family, friends, fun, and faith. Our family is bound by these principles, and our experiences have reaffirmed the strength of prayer and faith.

Our family's faith was put to the test when, less than a week after my husband Dan's kidney and pancreas transplant, he went into septic shock. It was the most serious of the many medical issues that Dan has had to deal with during our married life, most stemming from his type-1 diabetes. He wound up with a seven-week ICU stay.

I have a vivid memory of sitting on a bench in front of the hospital, watching the flow and serenity of a reflecting pool and praying to God. As I prayed, a wonderful sense of peace came over me, and I knew that everything was going to be all right. My faith was all that sustained me in that moment.

Dan's stay in the ICU also happened to coincide with our family moving. A new family needed to move into the home we were leaving, meaning my three daughters and I faced moving a full house by ourselves. Yet on the morning when we were to move, I opened the door and was stunned to discover about a dozen trucks and trailers occupied by people from our church and community, all ready to help. It was organized chaos, but I will always be grateful to those who helped my family through a trying time. They showed up because they share my faith and my belief in giving back to others in tough times and being there for one another.

The Catholic Church I grew up in during the '60s and '70s shared President John F. Kennedy's vision of faith and community. It taught me to ask not what my community can do for me but what I can do for those who are hurting, lost, and in need. The peace that sustained me through Dan's darkest days could not have been possible without the help of countless others in our faith community who share that understanding.

I refuse to sit by silently and allow the faith I grew up with to be hijacked by a crowd that believes they have the dominion to judge whether others are faithful enough or Catholic enough. Pope Francis has said, "I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity." Faith is about caring for those in greater need than ourselves; it's not a mechanism for casting stones. I ask that if you support my vision of faith, please consider supporting my campaign for Congress.

Kelly Kultala is a candidate to represent Kansas' third congressional district in the U.S. Congress. Learn more at kellykultala.com.