Tuesday, October 19, 2004

In Bad Faith

“And the Lord said the rich shall inherit the Bush tax cut”

George 3:13

At the Democratic Convention one of the first questions we asked was to an elderly delegate from Ohio: “Isn’t religion the reason this is a race?” He looked at me nonplussed for a moment, laughed, then considered that I was serious and nodded in solemn agreement, “I guess it is.” Nicholas Kristof of the NYTimes and others have documented in great detail how important religion and faith is when it comes to the way Americans vote. We will probably have a black Jewish female president who lights a Kwanza bush during the holidays before we have an atheist commander in chief.

How else are we to understand how the majority of Bush supporters - who aren’t millionaires, energy companies, military industrialists, corporate executives, neoconservatives or partisan ideologues - continue to back him after a uniquely disastrous term in office, topped by the revelation that he misled the country into a bloody, expensive war without the existence of weapons of mass destruction? Millions of those whose interests Bush has not only ignored but injured will be voting for him regardless this year. And it is not only due to the militaristic sideshow of Cowboy against the terrorist machine that is half his campaign. The other hemisphere of the Bush crusade is not only redolent of the fiery preacher at the pulpit, but of the spirit and words and uttered by Red Sox fans, or to promote the newest M. Night Shyamalan film: “Believe.” Since his policies are inherently unpopular, Bush has made belief in his presidency an article of faith.

Dubya loves to proclaim in his speeches and in press conferences (those few he allows) that he believes God wants all his children, even those pour souls in the Muslim world, to be free. The message is: Believe in Dubya. He is the purveyor of God’s will for freedom. Bush will say he believes jobs are created by tax cuts to the wealthy or that the mission in Iraq is succeeding. That the facts say otherwise are of no concern: he asks you to take a leap of faith with him.

As much of Bush II’s presidency is a lie, his fervent belief in God is no pretension and it his authenticity in this sense that has confused so much of the electorate who must ask: How can we not have real faith in this real man of faith? How can a man who genuinely believes he is guided by the Lord, if we agree this guidance to be supreme, be guided wrong?

In this election it is not the issue of the separation of church and state that is most harrowing. It is the separation of belief and truth.

"You know, I've been President for 3 and 1/2 years now. More than ever, I believe with all my heart that one cannot be President of our great country without a belief in God, without the truth that comes on one's knees.” -- George Herbert Walker Bush


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