The effort by hard-line Catholics to get John Kerry excommunicated are very likely counterproductive; I know anecdotally many Catholics fall short of strict Vatican rulings on, for example, birth control. And the rationally religious must recognize it’s a short distance from excommunication for merely supporting the civil right of abortion to excommunication for, say, using a condom.
A no-excuses policy of excommunication of sinners for birth control alone would probably result in a catastrophic drop-off in adherents in Italy, let alone New Jersey. Even the churches in Vatican City might empty out. You needn’t look too far to notice that Italy’s birth rate is among the lowest in the European Union and the world — a little odd for a nation of Catholics, no?
On the other hand, self-righteousness is a powerful and tempting emotion, and it’s not unusual for people to make themselves feel superior or safe by damning others for their own sins. For all the self-righteous excommunicators among Catholic voters, it might be good to consider what you get by rejecting a sinner: George Bush the heretic!