Oh God, It’s Bush
Religion has permeated the public sphere in a way that should have us all questioning its usefulness there. What is meant to be deeply personal has been turned into public spectacle and the debate rages as to its proper place.
It’s uncivilized that politicians feel the need to discuss their religion in public. It’s not completely their fault, they are just cowing to pressure by religious groups that require a litmus test in order to commit to a candidate, and most politicians will whore for a vote on any given day. Politicians by nature, attempt to be all things to all people which in the end leaves them nothing but a hallow shell with no real core values to speak of. Sure they could reject this public intrusion into their most personal selves, but they are not known for going against the grain, at least not in today’s American political landscape. So they continue to partake in the “my religion is better than your religion” or “my religion is close to yours so can’t you cut me a little slack?” It’s sad really, and like teenagers around the country say, “too much information.”
There are certain things we don’t need to know about our potential leaders, and when the questions are asked, or even worse are answered, democracy dies a little bit. Do you wear boxers or briefs? Have you been faithful to your spouse? Do you go to church? Do we really need the answers to these questions? Has our sense of decency been so eroded and our appetite for gossip grown so insatiable that we must make celebrities of politicians and turn their private lives into soap operas for public consumption? We would all be better served if they kept their private lives private and their superstitions to themselves. We should be demanding to be told how they plan to bring our trade deficit into line and what they’re going to do about the looming oil crisis, not whether they go to church every Sunday or just for the high holy days.
There are laws that require politicians to keep their genitals covered when out in public and there is supposed to be a firewall that keeps their religion out of the mix as well. These are both solidly good ideas and one not any more necessary than the other. Confine religion to the pulpit and politics to the stump and never the twain shall meet. Pastors are ill suited to give political advice and most politicians are too morally bankrupt to deliver a convincing sermon, but within the Republican Party it seems that the idea of separation of church and state is as quaint as the Geneva Conventions.
There is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance. We are bound by our constitution to tolerate the religious views of others, but we should not be forced to accept them as our own. Christians in this country are being led by their religious and political leaders into demanding not only acceptance of their beliefs, but a public endorsement of them as well. Anyone who needs validation of their beliefs might want to seriously re-evaluate their situation. A doctrine worth living by should not require outside approval and should be able to stand up to scrutiny. Faith should be strengthened by the skepticism of others and if it’s not, that’s a problem that cannot be solved by elected officials who are meant to serve us all.
Our president, for his part, informed the world that we are on a crusade, and there’s little doubt that he meant it the way it came out. He may have been told by his handlers not to frame the “war on terror” that way ever again, but the damage was already done. This is an imperialist war with warped Christian overtones, and the framing of our mission as such is not missed by those in the Muslim world who see the affects of it every day. Who knows if Bush is trying to usher in the return of Jesus or if it’s just his delusions of grandeur, but regardless of his motivation, everything he does is couched in religious rhetoric. He may not believe what he says, he is a politician after all, but he does believe that those who worship him will. With the mixing of religion and politics within the Republican Party, doctrine and policy have become one and the same.
Support for Bush has eroded in every sector of the American public except within the Republican Party. To them he is not just a president. He is a deity with all that implies. He can do no wrong, God speaks through him and whatever path he chooses to lead us down is the right one simply because he deems it so. Babs doesn’t look anything like the Virgin Mary, but to many in the GOP she must, nothing else can adequately explain their devotion to this man. Sure, his fellow politicians follow his lead because they are bound to him through their dirty dealings, but the average Bush supporter receives no real benefit beyond feeling protected from evil that surely lurks around every corner and the possibility of participating in God’s plan.
This is scary stuff to contemplate because there is no quick fix. We have accepted the rules set forth by the Republican Party that faith must be a part of every political campaign, and a rejection of that now will be a challenge to say the least. We have allowed religious faith to become a pre-requisite to public service. How many politicians have you heard profess their atheism as a driving force in their life? The absence of a religious affiliation is looked upon with disdain and anyone who proclaims him/herself an Atheist or Agnostic is immediately considered suspect. We minimize the importance of scientific endeavor and rational thought and instead require anyone seeking our vote to claim a religious identity, even if it turns out to be false. Until we can come to terms with the precarious position we have put our politicians in, we will never have representation in government that will be able to effectively challenge the things that are wrong. It’s time to get God out of government and back into church where he belongs. If Christians have a problem with that, they should be reminded that politics would only sully Him anyway.