I was raised Catholic. I was married in the Catholic Church. Despite many attempts to reconcile my personal beliefs with my Catholic upbringing, I haven't reached a point where I can go to church for a very long time. Abortion has always been a tough issue for me. I don't believe I would tell a woman to have an abortion, but I don't think it's my place to tell a woman, particularly a woman I have never had sex with, what medical procedure she should or should not undergo. The Church tells me I'm evil because I support a women's right to choose.
The attitude that a group of people somehow thinks they know what's best for everyone else is the major problem I have with religion. I have no problem with people who have religious beliefs, and I personally think you can believe whatever the hell you want, except Scientology, because we all know that it's a complete lie, invented by a guy who wanted to make lots and lots of money. The problems begin when you get together on a local, state or federal level, and start trying to legislate those beliefs on everyone else.
Right now in Missouri, the Catholic Churches are urging their members to oppose a petition drive that would protect existing stem cell research. Nevermind that there may be some guy with Alzheimer's in Missouri, who is an athiest, and needs treatment that only stem cell transplants and research can offer him. Forgetful in Missouri doesn't believe in God, so why should he have to live by your God's laws?
This is not a phenomenon that is limited to the Catholic Church. It's just what I'm intimately familiar with, given my own experience in life. During the 2004 Presidential Election, I red an actual Catholic Church action statement supporting President Bush because he was PRO LIFE! Nevermind over 100 executions while Governor of Texas or the Iraqi quagmire that looms large as the President's popularity falls and US soldiers continue to die.
You see, it's rarely as simple as "This candidate supports life, and this guy supports killing babies." If you voted for President Bush because he was Pro Life, you've been had. If you oppose stem cell research because of "respect for life" or because your church told you to, then don't participate in the treatments or medical breakthroughs that may eventually occur as a result of it. Your moral objection to something, whether it's stem cell research or John Kerry, might kill a human being. But at least you can sleep at night....