March 30, 2004

the manchurian electorate

It is difficult to render an opinion regarding the nexus of politics and religion without offending someone, if not in my case offending nearly everyone. This President’s contemptible exploitation of the Christian Right, however, has left me no choice but to weigh in on the subject.

If you have not picked up on the fact that I have a real distaste for our President, you probably have not read the rest of my Blog. Just in case you missed it, let me state clearly that I truly loathe the man. What might surprise you if you are someone who doesn’t know me except through these epistles is that I am a devout Christian who in matters of Essential Christian Dogma-though certainly not politics-would align generally to those who purport to be Fundamentalist Christians. So this President is supposed to be my kind of guy, right?


Nothing could possibly illustrate more effectively why I do not think this guy is representative of Christianity as does the particular story that prompted this rant. When I read the Kerry quotations, my reaction was an enthusiastic "Amen brother John!" It is refreshing and almost exciting to me to hear someone talk about the difference between what our leadership says and what it actually does.

That Kerry’s remarks hit home is clear from the reprehensible response from the White House. I quote from the linked New York Times story:

President Bush's re-election campaign later released a statement criticizing Mr. Kerry's use of the verse about faith without works, saying it was ''beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse, and a sad exploitation of Scripture for a political attack.''

Nicolle Devenish, a Bush spokeswoman, said Mr. Kerry was ''walking a fine line'' by campaigning in a church, adding, ''I think that's a sacred thing.''

Ms. Devenish (interestingly, my spell checker suggested devilish as a substitution for devenish) is of course necessarily implying that her boss manages to walk that line in a sacred way. Frankly, this continual sanctimony from this administration puts this Curmudgeon in a serious lather. Shrub, I trust, has never stumped from a physical pulpit, though he has never stopped campaigning from a virtual one. And I’m not talking about the “bully pulpit” either. Joseph Goebbels could not have maneuvered these waters with more maleficence.

As Christians, we are commanded to not judge the hearts of others. This oft cited directive of our Lord is certainly clear, but so is it equally clear that we are affirmatively commanded to measure others based on their deeds-and that of course is the whole point of Kerry’s biblical citations. I would not purport to know Kerry’s heart in such matters either, but the circumstantial evidence is that Kerry has a firmer grip on Biblical Principals than does our Bible thumping Head of State.

So you tell me gentle reader, how do you weigh this particular political act of the current administration? What do you call it when a President who has touted his own faith continually and loudly has the goebbelsian audacity to criticize a political opponent for proffering highly relevant and insightful passages from the book that he purports to hold so dear?

Failure to acknowledge the hypocrisy here constitutes willful denial or perhaps something deeper still. While I hesitate to equate the state of mind of my Christian Brothers and Sisters who continue to support such an obvious hypocrite with that of brain washing, there is clearly some deep psychic chords that this Administration is adept at plucking. I am incredulous of the prolific bumper stickers I see suggesting that our President was hand picked by God or comparing him to King David.


Suddenly I have a new respect for Mr. Kerry. Seldom in recent years has a politician so artfully called out his opponent. Having set the trap, Shrub and Company could not resist the bait and their very rejoinder demonstrates with extraordinary clarity the truth of Mr. Kerry’s remarks.

While Kerry chose the words of Paul, I think Jesus put it better still:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

(Matthew 7:15-16 KJV)

Waiting to pick a few grapes and figs from this Presidential garden is starting to feel like waiting for Godot.

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