Monday, April 04, 2005

Faith in Federalism

George W. Bush started his flirtation with faith well before his running for President in 2000. Perhaps the evangelical conservatives saw their opportunity even then to break down the wall between Church and State, but by any measurement, Bush has blown away all previous estimates. Is there anything sacred that the State does not lay claim to? Some call George Bush a "messiah in his own mind." All I know is he is not mine.

First, Bush decided that corporate and Christian interests were about the same: less secular governance. How do you reduce both the government hand-out programs and erode federal secularism? A stroke of genius: create the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Though there is some question on whether "faith" means anything but "Christian Faith" and "community" means anything but "Christian Community", Bush successfully renewed his small Texas state program into a monolithic federal agency.

Then, came the 9/11 response. Who can forget before all of the careful scripting in his rhetoric, what emerged from George's lips?
"This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."
Later, Bush would retract this, claiming that he "misspoke" and compensated by adding language to his speech on September 22, 2001 suggesting his "War on Terror" is not a "War on Islam." Knowing the twisted idealogies of this "born-again" evangelical, I understand what a huge blunder this was. Unfortunately, the damage was done and terrorist recruitment grows daily.

Now, after winning re-election, Bush has no issue with officially endorsing Christian movie reviewers, or issuing presidential proclamations for religious pontiffs. Bush will now become the first president of the US to attend a pope's funeral. Although the pope is technically a leader of an officially recognized state Vatican City, I doubt it is in this secular capacity that Bush wants the media coverage at John Paul II's funeral.

As a Christian American, I am outraged by this false messiah in the Oval Office. The early American immigrants came here to escape state-sponsored religion, and the Founders explicitly built into the constitution checks against promotion or cessation of religious practices by the US Government. Religion is a choice, not a government mandate! And any Christian who believes a citizen of a decent country shouldn't be able to choose his/her own way is not a Christian!

Jesus was no bully. Last I looked, we are all sinners and he died to save us all.

UPDATE: For more detailed a debate about this, read Bill Moyer's detailed synopsis in The NY Review.


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