COLUMBIA—It was a day to combine faith with political action when people flocked to the second annual Catholic Day at the Capitol on March 9 sponsored by the South Carolina Catholic Conference.
The event drew 175 people who met under a tent outside the Solomon Blatt Building. They enjoyed a catered breakfast, listened to presentations about issues such as religious freedom and pro-life concerns, and met with 50 legislators who attended the event in between committee meetings that were also in session.
Speakers included Oran P. Smith, senior fellow of the Palmetto Policy Forum, who spoke about religious liberty issues and education reform. Also, Holly Gatling of the South Carolina Citizens for Life and State Rep. Donna Hicks (R-Spartanburg) talked about the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortion after 19 weeks and has already been passed by the state Senate. If the bill receives final approval from the S.C. House, Gov. Nikki Haley has said she will sign the measure if it reaches her desk.
Other topics included a state Earned-Income Tax Credit for families, school choice and scholarships available for special needs students to attend Catholic schools.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone urged the crowd to focus on the issues and not on the heated personal arguments among candidates that have so far become a hallmark of the 2016 election year.
“As Catholics, when we approach the voting booth we need to find out the issues and cast a vote that will be helpful to the nation in the long run,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “Don’t let the emotional trauma going on deflect us from the important issues.”
David and Merrie Mullaney, who attend St. Joseph Church in Columbia, brought their six children to the event so they could get an idea how the state’s political system works.
“We wanted to show the kids it is important to be involved and to have a Catholic presence in the political process,” Mr. Mullaney said.
After the initial session concluded, many in the crowd went to the Statehouse to meet with their local legislators and further discuss issues.
Students from St. Anne School in Rock Hill also attended the event, went on a tour of the Statehouse and saw the legislative process in action.