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      Faith and politics clash over bishop's column

      Faith and politics, two sensitive topics we've been told to never bring up at a dinner table, are causing a stir in Munising.

      "We're not allowed to make [political] decisions for ourselves, the church will make it for us? Bull!" exclaimed Chris Chartier of Munising. "It's not going to make it for me."

      Chris Chartier says he's a devote Roman Catholic and a lifelong Democrat. The Marine veteran says he's outraged by what he's heard during mass at Sacred Heart Parish.

      "We were told if we didn't vote the way the bishop wanted us to vote, we were not in communion with the Heavenly Father, we were not in communion with the Catholic Church, we were everything but excommunicated if we didn't vote Republican," Chartier said.

      Chartier's frustration lies not with the pastor who allegedly made those comments, but with Bishop Alexander Sample, who heads the Marquette Diocese.

      In recent publications of the UP Catholic, the bishop outlined his position on a number of topics, including ones he considers "non-negotiable."

      "There are some issues which are fundamentally always wrong and involve intrinsic evils," said Bishop Sample.

      These intrinsic evils the bishop describes include abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage. On these social issues, Chartier actually agrees with the bishop, but he says the bishop crosses the line by explicitly telling Catholics how to vote.

      While the bishop never mentions the candidates by name, he does slam the president for his public support of gay marriage.

      "I'm not endorsing a political candidate publicly in this election at all," said Bishop Sample. "I am simply a teacher of the faithful, laying out the principles. That's my job."

      The bishop says his positions stand strictly on principle, not on a political party.

      "I'm not going to comment whether a Democrat can be a good Catholic, or a Republican can be a good Catholic or an independent. "I'd ask any Catholic individual to go back to the fundamental principles and ask ourselves, whose disciple am I first? Am I disciple of the Lord Jesus first?" Bishop Sample asked.

      Chartier says he's contacted the bishop to voice his concerns, but the bishop says he's not received any messages.

      According to Chartier, the Archdiocese of Detroit told him to lodge a formal complaint with the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C.