Religion continues to be a major theme in this year’s presidential campaign and frankly, I don’t like the position either side has taken.
On one hand John Kerry clearly couldn’t care less about God or the teachings of his supposed Catholicism, so every time he opens his mouth to pander for a religious vote he sounds nuttier. I already wrote about the time he “preached” from the book of James. Well, this time he decided to compare himself to the prophet Isaiah. He recently told an Indianapolis audience:
“Several months ago, President Clinton quoted the Prophet Isaiah in support of my candidacy: ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying whom shall I send. And who will go for us. And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’ President Clinton paid me the compliment of telling that audience whenever there was a call to service in war or in peace, I have always answered that call,”
He has got to be kidding. Quoting President Clinton quoting a passage from Isaiah 6 in which Isaiah stands in the presence of a holy God and realizes his sin is his undoing? This is a passage in which God abhors the false piety of mankind and sends Isaiah out to condemn them for it. The incredible irony of having John Kerry, not to mention Clinton, quoting this passage in their own support is almost too much to handle.
On the other hand, I am not heartened by President Bush’s approach to his supposed faith either. He openly panders as well, but he knows the biblical language and culture better (and has speech writers who know it) so it doesn’t sound so crazy. (I don’t think Bush’s handlers would have let him get away with the Isaiah reference, for instance). Add to this more polished religiosity his conservative social positions and Bush has become the darling of the evangelical crowd, in particular. Unfortunately, this adoration has led to an almost robotic acceptance of everything he does. I have seen essentially no criticism of any of Bush’s policies. Instead, conservative religious leaders bend over backwards to support him and explain away any problems that might come up.
This is scary. The last thing we want is a church that has lost its prophetic voice and become a cheerleader for the government (Think Nazi Germany if you need a reminder of what happens.) Just because the man is on the right side of issues like abortion doesn’t mean he should be allowed to gobble up civil rights and freedoms like a dictator without so much as a peep from church leaders. If a Democratic president had installed the Homeland Security act, for instance, Christians would be screaming (at least I hope they would), but since their man put it in, not even a whisper. This is a problem. Unfettered presidential power, be it Republican or Democrat, will only lead to huge, huge problems.
I hope I am wrong, but Bush reminds me a bit of Nixon. Nixon could put on a good front and had the support of many conservative Christians. Billy Graham, for instance, was a friend and big supporter. When all the dirty truth was revealed, these people were shocked. Graham tells in his autobiography how he just couldn’t believe what kind of man Nixon was behind closed doors. And Grahams biggest surprise? All the dirty language – Nixon’s tapes are absolutely full of it. He cussed up, down and sideways. According to Graham this was a sign of a bigger problem and if he had known about it before hand would certainly not have been so supportive.
Well, as good as Bush is at talking shop to the church crowd, it turns out that he too has a filthy mouth when there are no pastors in the room. U.S. News reports that, according to one advisor, “He uses the ‘F’ word as an adjective, a verb, and a noun,” Ditto for the ‘S’ word.
Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Perhaps, but “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt 12:34). This president is no saint, and he certainly isn’t the Messiah. Christians should be very wary of treating him as such.