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George W. Bush's Theology Of Empire


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FYI.. The current issue (Sept. Oct. 2003) of Sojourner's Magazine (a social justice oriented evangelical Christian journal) has a FANTASTIC cover story entitled "Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire" by Jim Wallis The cover also features a great "photo" of Bush Jr. as Caesar. Here's the link:

Sojourner's article re: GWBush's Theology of Empire

 

I wonder what any of the regulars at tcpc.org think about this article?

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*sighs* Honestly, I don't think Bush's approach is Christian at all. I have been convinced of pacifism for a long time, and my study of the Bible has shown me that pacifism is the Christian position. The historical Jesus of Nazareth was obviously opposed to violence: "you have heard that it was said, 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' but I (and only I) say to you, 'do not oppose the evil one, but whoever hits you on your right cheek, turn to him also the other'". Matthew 5.38-39. Do I believe Bush is sincere and that his behaviour is in accordance with his fundamentalist upbringing? yes. Do I agree that it is actually Christian? no.

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FYI.. George W. Bush was born and raised an Episcopalian. He didn't practice his faith very seriously during his college and young adult years. He "came to Jesus" (i.e. was Born Again) via interactions with Billy Graham (a Southern Baptist), and, due his having moved to the Bible Belt, his Christianity has become more conservative. He became a United Methodist when he married his wife (ast that is her denomination) and yet his views are not at all in sync with United Methodist teaching. Indeed, he is the first president in U.S. history to refuse to meet with Methodist bishops! (He refused to meet with them several times prior to his attack on Iraq this past March, 2003).

 

As United Methodist myself, I feel that GWB is more a Southern Baptist than a Methodist.

 

It is interesting to note that as the Southern Baptist denomination has become more conservative over the past few decaded, Billy Graham has become more liberal! I actually hope that GWB is open to being influenced by his former mentor instead of his weekly phone conferences with other Southern Baptist leaders.

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Well, in all fairness, Bush did conceed to meet with a representative of the Pope from Rome (who was outspoken against this war) just a few days before he authorized the attack in March. I think Bush did this due to the fact that there are far more Roman Catholic Americans than there are United Methodist ones.

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>>Pacigoth writes:

>>He has weekly phone calls with the Southern Baptists?

>>Geeez... Why does he refuse to even consider the

>>Christian argument for pacifism?

 

It would make things too complex for him. Like many extreme conservatives, Bush can only deal with things in black and white. From an article in " The Guardian" (Study of Bush's Psyche Touches a Nerve By Julian Borger, Wednesday 13 August 2003.): A study funded by the US government has concluded that conservatism can be explained psychologically as a set of neuroses rooted in "fear and aggression, dogmatism and the intolerance of ambiguity.... The authors also peer into the psyche of President George Bush, who turns

out to be a textbook case. The telltale signs are his preference for moral

certainty and frequently expressed dislike of nuance."

 

Given the raising tide of fundamentalism, the questions for us progressives are, "What is causing this neurosis?" and "What can we do to turn the tide and get us back on a progressive agenda?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

During Clinton's moral struggles, he was often compared to the ancient King David. David - you might recall - fell short of honoring his covenant with God when he slept with Bathsheba. So, if by engaging in oral sex with Monica, Bill was like David, how much more is the George Jr. administration like David when he sent Bahtsheba's husband Uriah out to the front lines intentionally putting him into harm's way - when they unveiled the identity of former Ambassador Bill Wilson's wife - an undercover CIA employee?!!! If these accusastions are true, then George, "THOU TOO art that man!" (See 2 Samuel 11-12 for references)

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BrotherRog

I think the article is so true! Thanks for posting it. I don't trust those people who claim to be Christians and then invoke violence and hatred as a means to an end, as GWB has done and is still doing...

 

Question...

Why is it that so many people who claim to be followers of Christ or claim to be religious think GWB/Arnold? and other men like them are righteous dudes that tell the truth, are honorable and will do right by the people that they represent. Is it that people are so fearfuly these days that they desire to follow those "cowboy" types to protect them?

 

The voices of women are especially silenced at this time. The voices of dissent and of peace and justice and the oppressed are silenced. The voices of reason and love are silenced.

 

People have traded in all of these because they are afraid. They believe the right-wing message spiked with the drum beat of fear - that we are all going to die unless we follow these "fearless" , "powerful", God supported leaders.

 

Rome fell. So to will GWB, Arnold, Ashcroft, Cheney etc.

 

Have no fear...

 

Peace

 

Lisa

:-) :D

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Recently saw "bowling for columbine," which i recommend as required viewing for political liberals and anyone calling themselves a Christian. It definitely changed my view on some things and reinforced others, particularly on the subject of "universal health care."

 

Anyway, a large part of this documentary discusses fear, in much the same context as Lisa's last post mentions. The theory is brought up that politicians encourage the public to live in a state of fear about various issues so that these politicians may push their agendas (and that the media is a medium which "sells" fear to make money). Please note, I said "politicians" and not " only right-wing politicians" employ this tactic.

 

The following link can be followed to learn more about the movie, but links to the "library" to a source for the Film, a book called "Culture of Fear." I didn't used to be so skeptical and paranoid about our political system in the United States, but now...

 

http://www.bowlingforcolumbine.com/library.../fear/index.php

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I'm reminded of a quote uttered by Noam Chomsky:

 

"The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people."

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  • 3 weeks later...

An update:

 

The Dangerous Theology of ANOTHER Bush administration official!!

 

Backward Christian soldier: An open letter to the Christian General

by Jim Wallis

 

Dear Lt. General Boykin,

 

You've gotten a lot of press this week, General. Perhaps you didn't expect the things you've been saying in churches to go public - about America's "Christian army," the holy war we're waging against the "idol" of Islam's false God, and the "spiritual battle" we're fighting against "a guy named Satan" who "wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." You call yourself a "warrior for the kingdom of God," but most of your service has been with the Special Forces and the CIA. You say, "We in the army of God, in the house of God, in the kingdom of God, have been raised for such a time as this." You apparently have no doubt that "America is still a Christian nation," while other nations "have lost their morals, lost their values." You think "George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States," but that "He was appointed by God." You say, "He's in the White House because God put him there." And maybe you believe God has put you in the new position to which you were just appointed as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

 

Because your views sound like a "Christian jihad" at a time when the United States government is sensitive to offending the Muslim world, you have become a controversy. I'm sure you've been under a lot of pressure since the story of your religious views broke in the Los Angeles Times. Your critics say your private religious views are your own business, but when you speak with your uniform on, you're a spokesperson for the U.S. military and government. We don't need to make the Arab world angrier at us than they already are and it doesn't help when you say things like, "Why do they hate us? The answer to that is because we are a Christian nation. We are hated because we are a nation of believers." Or when you describe the Muslim warlords you fought in Mogadishu, Somalia, as "the principalities of darkness" and a "demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy," that "will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus."

 

 

General, I think the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" must have been written just for you. I'm sure your superiors have already given you a lesson in politics and public relations. And I've heard you have toned down your opinions and said you didn't mean to offend anyone. Whether you keep your job is a political question, the outcome of which we will know soon enough.

 

But I want to raise some different issues: biblical theology, bad teaching, and church discipline. General, your theology bears no resemblance to biblical teaching. You utterly confuse the body of Christ with the American nation. The kingdom of God doesn't endorse the principalities and powers of nation-states, armies, and the ideologies of empire; but rather calls them all into question. You even miss the third verse of "Onward Christian Soldiers," which reminds us, "Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane, But the Church of Jesus, constant will remain." And let's not misinterpret the famous first verse, "Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before." The cross, General, not the Special Forces.

 

Brother Boykin, I believe you are a product of bad theology and church teaching. Why were you never given sound biblical tools to help you discern the shape of your vocation? Why were you never taught in Sunday school about the real meaning of the kingdom of God, and the universality of the body of Christ? And why have you never heard that only peacemaking, not war-making, can be done "in the name of Jesus?"

 

General, I really don't want to blame you for the lack of Christian teaching that you have obviously suffered. But there is a legitimate issue of church discipline here. When a high-ranking military officer espouses a zealous religious nationalism that claims the name "Christian" for both his nation and his army, and when he invokes the name of Jesus - not to love our enemies as he instructed, but rather to target them for destruction - the church must discipline that errant brother and name his public statements for what they are, not mere political incorrectness, but idolatry. General, you have substituted your nation and your army for God, your faith is more American than Christian, the Jesus you claim is not the Jesus of the New Testament, and his kingdom will not be ushered in by the U.S. military.

 

Whatever happens with your job, I pray that you find a church that offers you the ministry of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration to a more authentic biblical faith.

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  • 1 month later...

Putting down the mighty from their thrones

by Jim Wallis

 

The news of Saddam Hussein's capture came as I was finishing preparations for a Christmas sermon. The text at the heart of my message was Mary's song of praise from the second chapter of Luke's gospel:

 

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

 

Mary's "Magnificat" proclaims a great reversal of the power relations of this world, brought about by the birth of Christ. That social revolution is absolutely central to the Christmas narratives, which include a murderous rampage by King Herod against innocent children in the vain search for the one child whom the Roman vassal rightly feared might spell the end of his rule. None of that, however, gets into the commercial and cultural narrative of Christmas in America 2003; no challenge to the political and economic powers will interrupt our mall shopping, and the only break in the constant advertising juggernaut are the holiday tributes to our military forces in Iraq, fighting "the war against terrorism."

 

My first thought on hearing the breaking news was that Mary had predicted the downfall of the brutal and tyrannical Saddam, just as the hearers of this gospel in her time would have understood it to mean the collapse of their oppressive Roman rulers. Rulers everywhere have reason to be concerned about the new kingdom brought about by the birth of Christ: The more unjust their rule, the more they ought to worry. This new king, says Mary, will turn the world upside down.

 

Mary's stunning announcement about the high and mighty being brought low and the lowly exalted is at the heart of the Christmas story - this is how the scriptures portray the social meaning of the Son of God born in an animal stall. Mary is herself a poor young woman, part of an oppressed race, and living in an occupied country. Her prayer is the hope of the downtrodden everywhere, a prophecy that those who rule by wealth and domination, rather than by serving the common good, will be overturned because of what has just happened in the little town of Bethlehem. Mary's proclamation can be appropriately applied to any rulers or regimes that prevail through sheer power, instead of by doing justice.

 

But the leaders of the world's last remaining superpower, who now claim credit for Saddam's downfall, will likely miss the point of Mary's song, and certainly show no understanding of how her words might also apply to them. It is theologically accurate to say (and was proven historically true) that Mary was prophesying the end of "Pax Romana" (the "peace" of Roman rule) in her great Magnificat - but not only of Rome. If those who would enforce a new "Pax Americana" (a term that they themselves now like to use) continue their vision of success through unilateral dominance, they too could suffer the same fate as Rome, or even Saddam. That is part of the meaning of Christmas that you won't be hearing this year in the media's messages of good cheer.

 

America has now found Saddam. But have we found safety or security? Some say things may become even less secure, both in Iraq and at home, so long as the American occupation continues.

 

Saddam should now be brought to justice in the kind of fair trial he never gave others. The Iraqis should be the primary ones to hold him accountable for his horrendous crimes, but the international community should have an important part to play as well. The Bush administration should now finally move to genuinely internationalize the peacemaking and decision-making strategy in Iraq and allow the United Nations to oversee the process of writing constitutions and having elections - they are simply better at that than we are.

 

The capture of Saddam could mark the end of the war and the beginning of genuine nation-building, but only if Americans give up their control and allow other nations to help shape and secure a new Iraq. All of that seems unlikely now, with the United States seeming to savor its more imperial style. But, if we take Mary seriously, Pax Americana not only won't work, it won't ultimately prevail. That's both a Christmas promise and a Christmas hope.

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  • 1 month later...

GWB's Theology of Empire includes, of course, the TV networks.

 

CBS refuses to play a commercial during the Super Bowl that goes right to the heart of the truth about his presidency and its lasting detremental affects, especially on our worlds (not just America's) children, grandchildren...

 

I believe that many native tribes have said that before you make a decision, think about the consequences of it to the 7th generation...

 

To see the add click below...

 

http://www.moveon.org/cbs/ad/

 

Peace

 

Lisa

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
Question...

Why is it that so many people who claim to be followers of Christ or claim to be religious think GWB/Arnold? and other men like them are righteous dudes that tell the truth, are honorable and will do right by the people that they represent.  Is it that people are so fearfuly these days that they desire to follow those "cowboy" types to protect them?

 

The voices of women are especially silenced at this time.  The voices of dissent and of peace and justice and the oppressed are silenced.  The voices of reason and love are silenced. 

 

Lisa, I live in a heavily military town and many of the people I love and worship among are military families. While I always gently explain my pacifist/liberation views, there are pastoral concerns that are important as well. I think that the Bush adminstration pulled off a media coup by declaring all dissenters as un-patriotic, un-American or whatever. It didn't take the churches long to translate that into un-Christian, at least in my area. So sad..since we had a wonderful opportunity to show the world a better way.

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  • 1 month later...

PBS program Thursday night focuses on

"The Jesus Factor," President Bush

 

 

Thursday, April 29, at 9 P.M., the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance, will be one of the featured sources on FRONTLINE®, the award-winning investigative program of the Public Broadcasting Service. Dr. Gaddy was interviewed by PBS in the chapel at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., across the street from the offices of The Interfaith Alliance. Excerpts of that interview are used in the program and he is highlighted in the press release from FRONTLINE®.

 

According to a news release from PBS:

“How George W. Bush became a born-again Christian--and the impact that decision has had on his political career--is the focus of the FRONTLINE® report “The Jesus Factor,” airing Thursday, April 29, at 9 P.M. on PBS (check local listings).

 

"In 'The Jesus Factor,' viewers hear from numerous evangelical Christians who say President Bush understands the 'heart and soul' of their beliefs and that his post-9/11 speeches comforted a grieving nation. FRONTLINE also speaks to those who feel the president has taken his rhetoric--and his religion--too far.

 

"If we turn religion into a tool for advancing political strategy, we treat it as anything other than a sacred part of life from which we draw values and strength," says Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance. "Any time that religion has identified itself with a particular political movement or a particular government, religion has been harmed by that."

 

To Check Local Listings

Read the complete press release

visit Interfaith Alliance www.interfaithalliance.org

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I don't know if Thursday's PBS program will mention this or not, but George Jr. is the first (and hopefully only) U.S. president to refuse to meet with Methodist Bishops - in the history of our nation! What makes this even more disouraging is that George Jr. is (at least on paper) a United Methodist. Clearly, this is a maverik individual who eshews authority other than his.

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FYI.. George W. Bush was born and raised an Episcopalian. He didn't practice his faith very seriously during his college and young adult years. He "came to Jesus" (i.e. was Born Again) via interactions with Billy Graham (a Southern Baptist), and, due his having moved to the Bible Belt, his Christianity has become more conservative. He became a United Methodist when he married his wife (ast that is her denomination) and yet his views are not at all in sync with United Methodist teaching. Indeed, he is the first president in U.S. history to refuse to meet with Methodist bishops! (He refused to meet with them several times prior to his attack on Iraq this past March, 2003).

 

As United Methodist myself, I feel that GWB is more a Southern Baptist than a Methodist.

 

It is interesting to note that as the Southern Baptist denomination has become more conservative over the past few decaded, Billy Graham has become more liberal! I actually hope that GWB is open to being influenced by his former mentor instead of his weekly phone conferences with other Southern Baptist leaders.

Did you know that Southern Baptists were the ONLY congregation that supported the Iraq War?

 

All the other major Christian denominations renounced it.

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Did you know that Southern Baptists were the ONLY congregation that supported the Iraq War?

 

All the other major Christian denominations renounced it.

This may be true generally speaking, but my observation amongst "individuals" is that the war support crosses all denominational lines. In other words, there are fundamentalist factions in EVERY denomination. I left my weekly bible study group because I could no longer deal with what they were saying. Though they don't necessarily take the bible literally, they are still locked into what I would call "fundamental thinking." They aren't rabid. They would probably be considered "moderate." But I am too far "left" of them to be comfortable. I like and respect these people. I just had to leave while I still could like and respect them. I didn't formally leave. I just stopped going.

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From an email from Pax Christi USA:

 

'The Passion' of the Americans

By William Rivers Pitt of truthout | Perspective

 

The television airwaves have been filled for the last several days with

a lot of back-and-forth about Mel Gibson's new film, 'The Passion of The

Christ.' A great deal of debate centers around whether Gibson has

fashioned a broadside against Jewish people in the manner of the

medieval, anti-Semitic passion plays of old. There are plenty of rabbis

arguing with Christian ministers on just about any channel you might

choose to watch, so I'm going to leave that question to them for the

time being.

 

My question is much simpler: Why would Mel Gibson make a movie about

people in the ancient Middle East and cast it with so many white people?

To look at the central actors in this film, you'd think Jesus did his

work near Manchester, New Hampshire instead of the Holy Land. The answer

to that question lies within the United States, the prime market for

this film. There are millions of Christians in America, some 25% of whom

would characterize themselves as evangelical. It stands to reason that

this film would do very well here, especially given the controversy that

has surrounded the content.

 

The whiteness of the cast, however, speaks to a decidedly un-Christian

truth that lies near the heart of this republic. Simply put, nailing a

white Jesus Christ to the cross on film will generate a far more

emotional response from the American viewing public than the crucifixion

of a savior who actually looks like he is from the Middle East.

 

First, let's dispense with the idea that the white people who were cast

to play the most emotive characters - Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene -

have anything to do with historical accuracy. In truth, the region

where Jesus was born was, and remains, populated by brown-skinned

people. The fact of Christ's non-whiteness is borne out in the

historical record, and in biblical scripture. Right off the bat, the

Book of Matthew describes Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to escape the

wrath of Herod. Egypt is in Africa, and is populated by brown-skinned

people. For my money, this would be the last place on earth I would go

to hide a white baby from an angry King.

 

The earliest renditions of Jesus, painted by the first Christians called

Essenes in the catacombs of Rome, depict a person with brown skin.

During the time of Roman Emperor Justinian II, a gold coin featuring an

image of Jesus was minted. This coin, which today can be seen in the

British Museum, depicts a man with demonstrably non-white features and

tightly curled hair. Finally, there is the Book of Revelations, which

bears out the crafting of the Essenes and the Roman coin-makers by

describing Jesus as having hair like wool, feet the color of burnt

brass, and who resembled jasper and sardine stones. Jasper and sardine

stones are both brown, as is burnt brass.

 

The Jesus most familiar to Americans, the Jesus featured in Gibson's

film, looks like the front man for an alternative rock band out of

Minnesota. Judas in this film is a shorter version of the same

phenomenon. White skin, long straight brown hair, decidedly European

features - this is not the Jesus that preached revolution against the

Empire long ago. This is the Jesus fashioned by Michelangelo five

centuries ago, who used his white cousin as the model for the savior.

 

The ugly truth which never even occurs to most Americans is that Jesus

looked a lot more like an Iraqi, like an Afghani, like a Palestinian,

like an Arab, than any of the paintings which grace the walls of

American churches from sea to shining sea. This was an uncomfortable

fact before September 11. After the attack, it became almost a moral

imperative to put as much distance between Americans and people from the

Middle East as possible. Now, to suggest that Jesus shared a

genealogical heritage and physical similarity to the people sitting in

dog cages down in Guantanamo is to dance along the edge of treason.

 

George W. Bush calls himself Christian. If you believe him, he is on

armchair-to-armchair relations with the Almighty, enjoying regular

conversations with He Is What He Is on everything from tax policy to

invasion plans. Bush serves a unique dual role as both the Commander in

Chief and as high priest to the evangelical wing of American

Christianity.

 

When Bush did his little flight-suit strut across the aircraft carrier

last May, he proclaimed victory in biblical verse and sent a signal to

those Christians who see him as more than a man. Bush, that day, quoted

Isaiah's passage from the Servant Songs about captives coming out and

slaves being free. This is the same passage, as described in Luke

chapter 4, which Jesus used to announce his coming as the Son of God.

"Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing," said Jesus.

Bush's use of this incredibly loaded passage speaks as much to his

messianic fantasies as it does to his status as Christian-in-Chief.

 

Yet this is the same man who invades countries without cause and

consigns tens of thousands of innocents to explosive, burning death.

This is the same man who pushes tax policies that further enrich the

wealthy while stripping funds and services from the neediest in this

nation. This is the man who speaks the language of vengeance, of fear,

of violence. This is the man whose entire moral existence flies in the

face of Christ's words from Luke, chapter 12, verse 15: "Take care to

guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not

consist of possessions." Sadly, the skewed moral compass of George W.

Bush is shared by too many Americans who would call themselves

Christian.

 

Possibly the most important words ever spoken by Jesus can be found in

Matthew, chapter 5, verses 38-45. "You have heard that it was said, 'An

eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,'" said Christ. "But if any one

strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any

one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;

and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to

him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you.

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate

your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who

persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;

for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on

the just and on the unjust."

 

It is these words that condemn both Bush and the hands-off moral

attitude of too many American Christians. Certainly, Jesus was no fool.

In Luke, chapter 11, verse 21, he said, "When a strong man, fully

armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace." Self-protection,

for person and nation, is both moral and intelligent. But vengeance,

violence and hatred are not Christian. Mercy, love and generosity are

the hallmarks of the teachings of Jesus. If you are to call yourself

Christian, you must be for the poor and the weak, and against empire and

vengeance. Period.

 

These simple attributes are all too absent in the American soul and

spirit. Gibson's white Jesus is but one example of how far we have

strayed. It is a safe bet that, had Gibson chosen a brown-skinned actor

to portray Jesus, his film would not find a connection in this country.

Millions of Americans try to live by the teachings of Jesus, and do so

with success, but find themselves at odds with those who carry the

banner of Christianity. This is a travesty.

 

Too many so-called Christians are blind to history, blind to the actions

of our nation, blind to the hypocrisy of our so-called leaders, and the

world bleeds because of it. Too many so-called Christians are people

who would slaughter the savior to protect their power and position.

Were Jesus alive today, he would probably nail himself to the cross to

get away from all these people who act like barbarians in His name.

 

* William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout.

He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two

books.

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http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20031222&s=stam

Bush's Religious Language

by Juan Stam

 

George W. Bush began to take part in a Bible study group in 1985, after two decades of binge drinking. For two years he studied the Scriptures and put his heavy drinking behind him. In that same process, he succeeded in refocusing his life, which had been diffused and confused, into a coherent cosmic vision--or ideology--which corresponded to the mentality of the conservative evangelicals of his country.

 

When Bush decided to run for office, political strategist Karl Rove helped him make the link with the evangelical sector. While other candidates were discussing polemical themes, Rove advised him that it was much better for him to simply speak about his faith. Bush presented himself as "a man with Jesus in his heart." When a reporter asked him who his favorite philosopher was, Bush replied: "Christ, because he changed my heart." That corresponded perfectly to the extreme individualism of fundamentalism, and it constituted what in the metalanguage of evangelical code words is called "personal witness."

 

Politically, Bush's discourse has been very effective, but theologically the results have been more problematic, as evident in particular in three areas.

 

Manicheism This ancient heresy divides all of reality in two: Absolute Good and Absolute Evil. The Christian church rejected Manicheism as heretical many centuries ago. But on the day after 9/11, the President first stated the position he would continue to maintain: "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail." Later Bush defined his enemies as the "axis of evil," a term that is theologically and morally loaded.

 

Given that state of sublime innocence in his own country, like Adam and Eve in paradise, Bush can muster only one explanation for the terrorists' hatred of his nation: "There are people who hate freedom." In other words, they are so evil that they abhor the good because it is good. (But if the terrorists hate freedom, why have they not attacked Canada, which in some respects is more democratic than the United States? Why is there not the same hatred for Switzerland, Holland or Costa Rica?)

 

Messianism When Bush, then Governor of Texas, decided to seek the presidency, he described his decision in terms evangelicals would understand as a divine mandate: He had been "called," a phrase that evoked the prophetic commissions of the Hebrew scriptures. He summoned to the governor's mansion all the leading pastors of the region to carry out a ritual of "laying on of hands," a practice that corresponds above all to ministerial ordination. He told the pastors that he had been called (obviously, by God) to be the presidential candidate. This language of divine calling has been frequent in his declarations and at a much accelerated rhythm since September 11, 2001.

 

In his State of the Union address the following year, Bush reaffirmed that "history has called America and our allies to action." Soon after the 9/11 attacks, speaking to a joint session of Congress, he proudly declared that "the advance of human freedom--the great achievement of our time and the great hope of every time--now depends on us." As he declared in his 2003 State of the Union address, the nation must go forth to "confound the designs of evil men," because "our calling, as a blessed country, is to make the world better." "Once again," Bush announced as war preparation was building up, "this nation and our friends are all that stand between a world at peace and a world of chaos and constant alarm. Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this responsibility...and we go forward with confidence, because this call of history has come to the right country."

 

Bush does not seem to have much hesitation in identifying God with his own project. In a speech in September 2002, Bush cited a Christological text in reference to his war project: "And the light [America] has shone in the darkness [the enemies of America], and the darkness will not overcome it [America shall conquer its enemies]." When he appeared in a flight suit aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, he said to the troops: "And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope--a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, come out! to those who are in darkness, be free!'"

 

Manipulation of Prayer True prayer does not pretend to tell God what we want Him to do but rather asks that God tell us what He wishes us to do. We do not pray in order to enlist God in our ranks but to examine ourselves, to change and to do God's will. Therefore, the confession of sin and repentance are crucial moments in prayer and worship. Prayer has played a role without precedent in the Bush presidency and in the propaganda of the evangelicals who support him. Photos of Bush at prayer are common. Great publicity was given to the fact that during a prime-time news conference shortly before his speech giving the ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, Bush asked his advisers to leave him alone for ten minutes. In evangelical symbolism, that meant that a man of prayer was going to commune with God, somewhat like Moses on Mount Sinai.

 

It is remarkable how closely Bush's discourse coincides with that of the false prophets of the Old Testament. While the true prophets proclaimed the sovereignty of Yahweh, the God of justice and love who judges nations and persons, the false prophets served Baal, who could be manipulated by the powerful. Karl Marx concluded that religion is "the opium of the people." But Marx never knew committed Christians like Camilo Torres of Colombia, Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, Frank Pais of Cuba, Ernesto Cardenal of Nicaragua, Dietrich Bonhoeffer of Germany or Martin Luther King Jr. of the United States. How paradoxical, and how sad, that the President of the United States, with his heretical manipulation of religious language, insists on proving Karl Marx right.

 

Juan Stam, a Costa Rican pastor and theologian, taught at the Latin American Biblical Seminary and the National University of Costa Rica.

Translated by Thomas E. Ambrogi. A longer version (available at www.servicioskoinonia.org/logos) appeared in Signos de Vida.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Question...

Why is it that so many people who claim to be followers of Christ or claim to be religious think GWB/Arnold? and other men like them are righteous dudes that tell the truth, are honorable and will do right by the people that they represent.  Is it that people are so fearfuly these days that they desire to follow those "cowboy" types to protect them?

 

The voices of women are especially silenced at this time.  The voices of dissent and of peace and justice and the oppressed are silenced.  The voices of reason and love are silenced. 

 

Lisa, I live in a heavily military town and many of the people I love and worship among are military families. While I always gently explain my pacifist/liberation views, there are pastoral concerns that are important as well. I think that the Bush adminstration pulled off a media coup by declaring all dissenters as un-patriotic, un-American or whatever. It didn't take the churches long to translate that into un-Christian, at least in my area. So sad..since we had a wonderful opportunity to show the world a better way.

And people wonder why many progressives stay home on Sundays? Many of the Churches have become a place to worship George Bush and the RW Fundie brigade. I worked for a local Lutheran Church (ELCA) and the political climate was so apparent that I had to leave my job.

 

I have started attending a UCC, and am enjoying praying for "Economic Justice" and "Peace" ... and many of the things I consider christian values.

 

An excellent read,

Thank you BrotherRog.

 

"The Bush policy has become one of potentially endless wars abroad and a domestic agenda that mostly consists of tax cuts, primarily for the rich. "Bush promised us a foreign policy of humility and a domestic policy of compassion," Joe Klein wrote in Time magazine. "He has given us a foreign policy of arrogance and a domestic policy that is cynical, myopic, and cruel."

 

and this...

 

"Once there was Rome; now there is a new Rome. Once there were barbarians; now there are many barbarians who are the Saddams of this world. And then there were the Christians who were loyal not to Rome, but to the kingdom of God. To whom will the Christians be loyal today?"

 

Very Good question.

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From a recent email:

 

"We Face a Fork in the Road"

James Wallerstedt

Published on Common Dreams, May 14, 2004

 

Last month, Americans again had the opportunity to watch our President stare into the teleprompter and confirm our secret fears that the nation is heading down a dark and dangerous path.

 

George Bush and those that run Washington alongside him seem to have a natural fondness for enemies, as well as some talent for attracting new ones. Disturbingly, President Bush has recently made it clear that he sees his administration as being "on a mission for God."

 

There is evidence of an "end times" interpretation of events within the White House, whereby unconditionally backing Israel will lead to Armageddon, which will lead to the Second Coming of Christ. Meanwhile, a respected and growing segment of our Christian community - including Rev. Bill Moyers and Jimmy Carter - are speaking out against such fundamentalist interpretations (which the latter calls "foolish"), as they are clearly formulas for pitting intolerant Christian and Jewish elements of society against radical Islam; in a potential, worldwide, dead-end "Crusade."

 

Many, therefore, will likely interpret the phrase from the President's recent speech, "We will finish the job of the fallen," to mean; at the end of our present course, we, too, will be fallen. Our national goodwill will be all but destroyed, our military assets will be useless against a dispersed and vigorous "enemy," damage to our national economy will be nearly total (in a recent NY Times article, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin indicates that the American economy may right now be heading down the same path as...Argentina).

 

During the last presidential campaign, when asked to name his "favorite philosopher" in history George Bush answered, "Jesus." Yet, if we look at the policies of his administration, we find the very opposite of the qualities that Jesus counselled:

 

arrogance versus humility

 

strengthening the strong while weakening the weak

 

selfishness and materialism versus selflessness and a spiritual

approach to life

 

an inclination toward revenge instead of forgiveness

 

a tendency toward competition versus cooperation

 

disrespect rather than a deep-seated love for nature

 

a tendency toward secretiveness and subterfuge versus honesty and openness

 

 

It's not for nothing that Jesus advised, "By their fruits shall ye know them." He and many other sage voices of history have counselled paying close attention to what people actually do, versus listening only to their words. George Bush and his administration talk a good game; patriotism, Christianity. Yet, they are busy doing just about everything imaginable to contradict the fundamental teachings both of the Founding Fathers and the founder of their supposed faith.

 

 

"Leave no Child Behind" is poised to leave all American children behind. The "Clear Skies Initiative" threatens to pollute our skies forever. The "liberation" of Iraq is a hated occupation. "Compassionate conservatism" is busy giving away the store to an already over-privileged elite. Right down the line, there's the stark contrast between what's being said and what's being done.

 

Here's what Walter Cronkite recently said about the situation, "One sometimes gets the impression that this administration believes that how it runs the government is its own business and no one else's. The tight control of information, as well as the dissemination of misleading information and outright falsehoods, conjures up a disturbing image of a very different kind of society. Democracies are not well-run nor long-preserved with secrecy and lies."

 

 

Okay, so Bush seems not to be following very well in the footsteps of his favorite philosopher. Yet, we might ask, how does the Bush administration stack up against that other pillar of loyalty continually evoked, national patriotism?

 

Well, let's consider what the Founding Fathers might have said...

 

 

Given that they tended to identify with Masonry rather than Christianity, that probably would have positioned them, right from the start, among the misguided. They were against secrecy in government.

 

 

They believed in the separation of church and state; in freedom of speech and association; in habeus corpus and freedom from arbitrary search and arrest. Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who are willing to forsake their civil liberties for security, deserve neither." All that would have put them at odds with the likes of George Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Don Rumsfeld and various neo-con members of the present administration.

 

 

For those of us who take seriously the symbols of God and flag, the following should be considered; the greatest crimes of history have always been committed in the name either of the state, or religion, or both. Hitler carried out his own evangelical programs for "the glory of the Fatherland," whilst Nazi storm-troopers wore belt buckles which proclaimed, "Gott mit Uns" ("God with us"). In the aftermath of WWII, good-hearted Germans asked themselves how they might have avoided being duped by such appeals to their patriotism and religious loyalty.

 

The President's favorite philosopher gave us a clue, long ago; "By their fruits shall ye know them."

 

America, today, spends more on armaments and military than all the other nations of the world, combined. We refuse to join treaties to protect human rights and the environment that nearly all other nations endorse. UNDP indicates that but a small fraction of our present military expenditures could solve all the worst problems of human misery and poverty, on a global basis. Yet, our administration seems rather

uninterested in this prospect. Identifying and pursuing enemies, instead, has captured their interest (terrorists versus communists, this time around).

 

Just imagine what GWB's favorite philosopher might have said about these priorities.

 

Humanity confronts a fork in the road, today - one which must be approached by drawing upon the best of our collective values and history. Where I part company with fundamentalists and fanatics of all stripes - political and religious - has to do with the idea that we can throw away all the most cherished values taught by the founders of our creeds, while claiming to be acting in their name.

 

James Wallerstedt is author of the forthcoming novel, "White Paper"

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PBS will broadcast an encore of "The Jesus Factor" on Thursday, May 20, at 9 p.m. (check local listings). The documentary examines the depth and impact of President Bush's evangelical faith in his personal and political journey. You can also now access the companion Web site, including transcripts, and streaming video of the entire documentary at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/

Get the full Wallis interview at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sh...ews/wallis.html

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George W. Bush and the Rise of Christian Fascism

The Imperial Presidency

 

The men who wrote the Constitution of the United States knew that if power accrued into the hands of an elite the experiment of democracy (power spread out into the realm of the people) would be over. So they created a system of checks and balances that blocked access to any one person, or any one special interest or elite gaining too much power over others. Thus our executive, legislative and judicial branches of government “balanced” each other. The media was yet another “check” on the accrual of too much power, as was the Bill of Rights, and to some extent the Church (or churches). The system wasn’t perfect but it kept alive the possibility of true democracy. It kept alive the dream that one day “we the people” could live in a peaceful commonwealth where every person has what they need to survive and thrive.

 

That dream died in December 2000 when the checks and balances of our Constitution collapsed and George Bush was inserted into the Presidency of the United States. September 11, 2001 furthered the atrophying of democracy handing the country into the hands of an emerging Corporate (and I say Christian) Fascism. Fascism meaning the collapse of diverse spheres of power into one. Since that time we have witnessed, and have been unable to prevent, the emergence of an Imperial Presidency that has the unrestricted power to declare war against any country it chooses. The Imperial Presidency has brought to end the Constitutional mandate that ‘ONLY CONGRESS’ has the authority to declare war. It has furthered weakened international law and undermined the potential of the United Nations to spread democracy throughout the earth.

 

The Imperial Presidency has also gained unrestricted potential to round up American citizens incarcerating them in military brigs or concentration camps for unlimited amounts of time. The presidency can keep the accused from ever again communicating with friends, families, and attorneys, simply on the certification that the incarcerated are "terrorists," as he has done with Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi. The Presidency may also now kill American citizens abroad solely on the basis of naming the one killed “a terrorist”. Just ask the family and friends of Ahmed Hijazi, an American killed with a U.S.-fired missile in Yemen. This nullifies the Constitutional right: “no person shall be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

 

Ominous signs are all around us concerning the accrual of power into the hands of the Presidency. If Mr. Bush stays in office I think our future will continue to witness shrinking political rights, financial collapse and endless war. Part of the power and seduction of this administration emerges from its diabolical manipulation of Christian rhetoric. I want to flesh out the ideology of the Christian Fascism that Mr. Bush articulates. It is a form of Christianity that is the mirror opposite of what Jesus embodied. It is, indeed, the materialization of the spirit of antichrist: a perversion of Christian faith and practice.

Christian Fascism

 

This country, like it or not, is overwhelmingly dominated by the ideology of the Christian story. It is not so much that our founders were all Christians. Rather, they lived in an atmosphere which was visioned through the lens of Christian thought and rhetoric. What they saw was that America had become the New Israel (the new Promised Land) of God. America was a benevolent nation seeking only the good of all. Our wealth is a blessing given to us as a sign that we are a “chosen, special people” whose larger meaning is to help the world into an era of peace, prosperity and justice. Every politician draws on this “civil religion story” of benevolence that gives authority to the politician’s ambition and agenda. Another way of saying this is: every nation needs sacred legitimation. It needs the authority of transcendence: of a story larger than itself … a story that connects past with present and future. An Empire needs an even broader story: one that connects with cosmic and/or historical redemption and new creation.

 

Martin Luther King understood this sacred American civil religion and was able to wed it brilliantly with the prophetic religious teachings of the Bible. He drew upon Biblical narratives that limited the power and authority of the elite while calling for economic redistribution of wealth. He drew upon teachings rooted in the personal morality of nonviolence and compassion. George Bush, on the other hand, also understands this sacred American ‘civic gospel’ and has brilliantly merged it with Biblical Holiness and Holy War traditions. These traditions call for the emergence of the Righteous Warrior who will cleanse the land of its impurity. These traditions are rooted in the personal morality of righteous zeal and obedience.

 

For example:

 

1.) Mr. Bush consistently sends signals to his right wing religious base. In the 2003 State of the Union he exhorted: “there’s power, wonder working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people”. It’s a phrase from a well-known Communion hymn “there’s power, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb”. Bush brings together the holiness zeal of Christian evangelicalism with patriotic fundamentalism. The core belief system of this ‘civic gospel’ goes something like this: The United States was founded as a Christian nation with free enterprise as the only economic system truly compatible with Christian beliefs. These religious values are today under attack in America. The danger is that without faith in God America will lose its blessing. Therefore, the government needs to act to protect the nation's religious heritage.

 

2.) Mr. Bush’s teachings on terrorism: “you are with us or against us” cements for the hearer the apocalyptic world of good versus evil. There can be no neutral ground. You have to make a decision. Patriotism is now all or nothing: it is either total agreement or a slippery slope towards treason. In the Church you come to Jesus alone for salvation. In the state you obey the God-annointed leader and are thereby secured.

Renana Brooks writes (The Nation June 24, 2003: Bush Dominates A Nation of Victims):

“Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate. He uses pessimistic language that creates fear and disables people from feeling they can solve their problems. In his September 20, 2001 speech to Congress on the 9/11 attacks, he chose to increase people’s sense of vulnerability: ‘Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. … I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children. I know many citizens have fears tonight … Be calm and resolute, even in the face of a continuing threat.’ (Subsequent terror alerts ... have maintained and expanded this fear of unknown, sinister enemies.)”

 

The terror threat itself can only be combated with increases in military force, domestic security and curtailment of civil rights through Patriot Acts. There are no other options nor any dialogue or debate that would create an alternative way to deal with terrorism.

 

3.) Mr. Bush certainly sees himself as a Messiah figure. Listen to his language after 9-11: “ I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people.” Or, in his 2003 State of the Union speech: “I will defend the freedom and security of the American people”. He has become the nation. He is its embodiment. According to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, - Bush told him: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." This is Biblical language … it isn’t political script. This is Bush’s soul language. He understands himself as a man with a Divine mission. It also means that for him leadership is not “representing the people” rather leadership means transcending the will of the people. George Bush already knows the truth before the evidence is presented. He is guided by God and must blaze the trail even if the people are reluctant.

 

Iraq, for example, was a necessary war whether or not Saddam had nukes. Saddam, for Bush, was a bad guy who tried to kill “my dad”. The war, for Bush, was holy and justified and necessary. Purging evil is necessary in the Holiness/Holy War tradition of the Bible. The righteous will purge evil but the unrighteous will be consumed by it.

Like all religions the Bible has various narratives within its pages: Jesus drew on the prophetic traditions that called upon the people to change their way of life even as it critiqued and called upon the elites to decentralize their power. Jesus role modeled a lifestyle of redemptive suffering on behalf of others. Mr. Bush, however, draws on traditions that call for purity and cleansing. It is a language of hostility towards enemies and a strident call for obedience. It calls forth a lifestyle of the RIGHTEOUS ONE who will purge evil from the world through sacred violence. This religious rhetoric that merges Holiness Christianity with Imperial Americanism, is “in sync” with a growing new movement in theology called Christian Reconstructionism (or Dominion Theology).

 

Reconstructed Fascism

 

First and most basic is that Dominion Theology wants to replace democracy with a theocratic elite that would govern according to a very literal and peculiar interpretation of Biblical law. The disciples of Jesus are to have “dominion” over all of creation. It is the role of the Church to rule over the wicked and bring them into the obedience of faith.

 

In a “reconstructed society” democracy would be heresy. The division between sacred and secular would be abolished. A new insistence on conformity to moral rules would replace the pluralism we now know. The purpose of the Federal government would be to enforce morality through military and police functions. Society would be regulated by a theocratic elite: in the words of Pat Robertson: “just as the Supreme Court justices place a hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, so they should also put a hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

 

We see this at play in the leanings of Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas. Against the common assumption that we are a secular state Mr. Scalia has said (in a FIRST THINGS: May 2002 ) “government … derives its moral authority from God. Government is the minister of God with powers to revenge, to execute wrath, including wrath by the sword.”

 

Scalia is drawing from Romans 13. If taken literally the implication of those verses would prohibit any resistance against the policies of a government. No more peaceful demonstrations (the government would be justified to do what it did to those recently in Miami and earlier here in Seattle). Even writings of dissent and opposition could be labeled treasonous (this is part of Ashcroft’s passion for Patriot Acts and other warnings not to say too much).

 

Scalia (and many of the conservative judges placed in Federal Courts since Reagan) believe in interpreting the Constitution in its original intent. As Scalia has said (same article as above) “the constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead. It means today not what current society thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.” So, as Katherine Yurica points out in her article THE DESPOILING OF AMERICA:

 

.. since the death penalty was clearly permitted when the 8th Amendment (which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments) was adopted and at that time the death penalty was applied for all felonies --- including, for example, the felony of horse-thieving, “so it is clearly permitted today”.

 

All a willing Dominionist Republican controlled congress need do to extend the death penalty to those people who practice witchcraft, adultery, homosexuality, heresy, etc. is to find those particular death penalty laws existing as of November 3, 1791 and re-instate them.

 

Scalia further believes that democracy fosters civil disobedience and is therefore a hindrance to the greater good of law and order. Our Federal Court system is being packed with these types of Judges … Bush himself will try to fill Court vacancies with these type of judges.

 

Secondly: The good society according to Dominion Theology has men on top. Society would be reconstructed into a strong patriarchy that would provide the social pressure ensuring conformity. Women would find their true function as supportive wives, mothers and homemakers. Those outside this “patriarchal modality” would be exterminated. (Today the Gay marriage movement is a true threat to establishing a patriarchal society. This administration has no choice but to make this a MAJOR issue in the coming election.).

 

Thirdly: Purity becomes very important. There is only one right way to see the world. It is therefore of fundamental importance to control education in all spheres of culture. We see this in the Bush administration’s approach to testing in schools; in his massive discounting of Global warming and in his repeated refusals to engage in open, diversified conversation about matters of importance: whether it be Cheney’s Energy Task Force, the investigation of 9/11; or the creation of an “in house” intelligence team which created evidence for the Iraqi war after the other governmental agencies couldn’t provide it. The Bush team KNEW the answers before the evidence was even accumulated.

 

Fourth: Dominion Theology denies history and spurns the modern. It is not a conservative (conserving) movement. Although it might appeal to a nostalgic and mythical past it is primarily focused on a radically revolutionized future of utopia. It assumes that the end will justify the means and it is moral to work as “stealth agents” fooling the pagans. It sees the world as engaged in spiritual warfare pitting “good Christians” against everybody else. This HOLY WAR and HOLINESS rhetoric is foundational in Mr. Bush’s worldview.

 

Now if you think that this talk is bit “hyper” on my part … that I’m Chicken Little squawking in the wind … what then do you make of these Texas Republican platform positions of 2002?

“The Republican Party of Texas reaffirms the United States of America is a Christian nation."

1.) Government: We reclaim freedom of religious expression in public on government property, and freedom from government interference. Support government display of Ten Commandments.

… Dispel the “myth” of separation of church and state.

2.) ECONOMY: Abolish the dollar in favor of the gold standard. Abolish the IRS. Eliminate income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, capital gains, corporate income tax, payroll tax and property tax. Repeal minimum wage law …Gradually phase out Social security tax for a system of private pensions.

3.) UNITED NATIONS: We immediately rescind our membership in , as well as financial and military contributions to the United Nations … we should evict the United Nations…

4.) FAMILY: We believe that traditional marriage is a legal and moral commitment between a man and a woman. We recognize that the family is the foundational unit of a healthy society and consists of those related by blood, marriage or adoption. The family is responsible for its own welfare, education, moral training, conduct and property.

5.) EDUCATION: Since Secular Humanism is recognized by the United States Supreme Court as a religion … Secular Humanism should be subjected to the same state and federal laws as any other recognized religion.

6.) ENVIRONMENT: Oppose the myth of global warming. Reaffirm the belief in the fundamental right of an individual to use property without governmental interference.

 

This coming election will not be decided because of political policy. It will not be decided in a debate over free markets versus fair markets; tax cuts or no tax cuts, Patriot Act or no Patriot Act; military draft or no draft. None of these issues will determine the election because the candidates are all for free markets, tax cuts, domestic security and a strong global military presence. The election will be determined by the candidate who can embody the deeply felt, often unarticulated religious yearnings of the populace. Yearnings such as “who will save us, secure us, lead us??? Who will connect us with a power greater than the terrors of the night?” Bush speaks this language. Democrats are stuck in political nuance. Or, in other words, Democrats cannot speak the language of Martin Luther King who understood that social transformation requires a transcendent authority. And it is a vision of transformation, not nuance, that gives people the courage to risk choosing nonviolent resistance instead of violence.

 

The problem comes down to this: Democrats, liberals, and social progressives have simply not grasped how afraid, insecure and how deeply in despair the populace is. They keep speaking as if tinkering with the system is a vision that can win the day. What Bush and Rove, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Pearls, Abrams and Bolton, DeLay and Rice etc, have clearly understood is that truth is perception. Image is EVERYTHING! Unfortunately, the inner person of America today is a hollowed out consumer who lacks the will power, stamina and imagination to do anything more than be overwhelmed by appearances. Therefore, a politics of crisis, a politics of fear will keep us locked into a state of conformity.

 

Apocalyptic Fascism

 

Fueling this politics of fear is yet another theological worldview of crisis and insecurity. Apocalyptic theology is booming !!! Drawing from the Holiness/Holy War traditions of the Bible it currently dominates the mass media expression of Christian faith from which Bush draws his strength. It is a theology of despair that has given up on the possibilities of redemption.

 

One of the most popular fiction series making the rounds these days is the LEFT BEHIND series written by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins. Multiple millions of people are reading these books that fictionalize the end of life as we know it. It used to be that the Church could control people through the fear of eternal damnation. Today it is through fear of the future. The theology is basically this: The Bible is a code book that when rightly interpreted reveals that we are living at the end of history. History is scripted and is about to come to a catastrophic conclusion. The only hope is to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior so that you can be “saved” from the future apocalypse. God will “snatch you up” (Rapture) right before a seven-year series of horrible events that will see the rise of Antichrist and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple. There will be world war with most of humanity dying. At that point Jesus will return to restore law and order. This theology of despair “fits” our current culture of powerlessness and fear. From SARS to weapons of mass destruction to the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict, to ecological collapse, the whole world seems to be on a “no exit” slide into an end-times abyss. The theology of despair is very seductive and it is shaping the spirituality of millions of Christians today.

It has, at least, five political implications that affect each one of us here today.

 

First: Israel is to be exalted and defended no matter what they do to the Palestinian people. They are God’s chosen people and must reside in their Biblically anointed Land for the “end time clock” to tick to its final minute. Israel has a Biblical mandate to conquer and control all of the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates. Behind the politics of oil lie the religious passion to fulfill God’s will: Syria must fall.

Second: institutions like the United Nations are not to be trusted because they are tools of the Antichrist. The Antichrist is thought of (not as a spirituality or ideology) but as a personal embodiment of evil. The Antichrist will be a living person who will come to power at the end of history and proclaim himself to be god on earth. The theory has it that his power will be generated from within a coalition of nations. Thus … America, as God’s chosen nation, will need to go it alone so as not to be duped by Antichrist. Our destiny is to take the gospel to all the nations: a benevolent gospel of security and salvation for all.

 

Third: since the world is passing away the environment is not of great importance. There is no need to worry about issues of sustainability because the world is in its final countdown. Part of the unconcern towards global warming and other ecological crisis is the religious belief that we aren’t going to be around in 100 years. We’re in the end times now … every moment is merely preparation for eternity. Whether Bush himself believes this or not is irrelevant. This is the religious worldview of those who exalt him and the voter-bloc to which he plays. For Bush to act for sustainability would require a major shift in his religious narrative. As an aside, this past summer the National Park Service was instructed to approve the display of religious symbols and Bible verses, as well as the sale of creationist books at the Grand Canyon National Park. In December 2003 the Park Service was ordered to develop a “more balanced” version of an 8 minute video shown at the Lincoln Memorial Visitor Center. Conservative Christians wanted the removal of footage of gay rights, pro choice and anti-war demonstrations replacing it with footage of Christian rallies and pro-war demonstrations.

 

Fourth: Apocalyptic theology believes that Jesus dying for my sins is far more important than the teachings of Jesus. We see this in the recent movie PASSION OF THE CHRIST. What this creates is a spirituality that can overlook the teachings of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is re-framed as an impossible this-worldly ethic. Teachings about nonviolence, economic redistribution, compassion toward those who are thought of as sinners and resistance to injustice are all discounted. Recently, the Governor of Alabama in a fit of religious zeal wanted to take the economic teachings of Jesus seriously: he tried to reform his state to benefit the poor. The Christian Coalition led the charge against such thinking and foiled his efforts.

 

Fifth: A leader who loves Jesus is to be followed as God’s man for the hour. The Christian leader is God’s shepherd over the American flock. When Bush, who sees himself as a messianic figure anointed by God, decided on running for the Presidency he called a group of evangelical Pastors together announcing to them “I have heard the call” and then received from them the “laying on of hands” which corresponds to divine ordination for the task ahead. On September 14, 2001 he stated: “our responsibility before history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil”. He then launched the crusade Operation Infinite Freedom against Afghanistan. Yet other messianic statements from Bush:

 

“History has called America to action. … The great hope of our time, and the great hope of every time, now depends on us”

“We must also remember our calling as a blessed nation to make the world better … and confound the designs of evil men.”

“Our nation has been chosen by God and commissioned by history, to be a model of justice before the world.”

 

According to Vice-President Cheney: America “has the duty to act with force to construct a world in the image of the United States.”

 

In return for this messianic leadership evangelical Christians have poured out an annointing of prayer. During the Afghanistan crusade thousands of “Presidential Circles of Prayer” and “Wheels of Prayer” were organized on the Internet, running 24 hours a day.

 

WHEEL OF PRAYER FOR OUR SOLDIERS

 

”Lord hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us.

Bless them and their families for the altruistic actions they are performing

for us in our time of need. This I ask in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.”

 

This prayer was so popular and was hit so often that the website crashed within days.

Pastor Charles Stanley distributed among Marines as they entered into combat thousands of pamphlets entitled “Duty of a Christian in Time of War”. With the pamphlet went a card instructing them to sign and send directly to Mr. Bush. The card says: “I have committed to pray for you, your family and your Administration.” Specific prayers for the President were included for each day.

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