The demonizing of Bush’s faith by the liberal elite would be shameful if it wasn’t completely predictable. We are gearing up for a crucial election, and every trick in the book will be used over the next few days. Liberals’ current message: Be very scared of our Christian president.
In a December 1999 Republican presidential debate, the moderator asked the name of each nominee’s favorite philosopher. Three of the six candidates said Jesus Christ. One of those candidates was then-Gov. George Bush. Those responses gave every leading Democrat the chills. The far left’s most prominent patroness, Maureen Dowd, said Bush was “guilty either of cynicism or exhibitionism” and accused him of “playing the Jesus card.” It’s been five years since then, and the liberals still can’t get over our president’s religious beliefs.
Many say Bush blurs the line between politics and religion. It is more accurate to say that Bush blurs the line between politics and morals, which is not a bad line to erase. It is every liberal’s modern-day savior, Bill Clinton, who has consistently distorted the boundary between politics and religion. Clinton once tried to make a connection between Scripture and voting: “The Scripture says, ‘While we have time, let us do good unto all men.’ And a week from Tuesday, it will be time for us to vote.” At the very least, it’s a puzzling connection with dubious intentions behind it.
According to the National Archives and Records Administration, Bill Clinton mentioned Jesus Christ 41 times over eight years, while Bush has mentioned Jesus 14 times in four years. Last year, Bush mentioned Jesus only twice; once on Easter and once on Christmas. This is hardly the rhetoric of a fire-and-brimstone zealot. However, that same year, Sen. Dick Gephardt somehow got away with, “Jesus was a Democrat, I think.” Before Howard Dean’s campaign went South, geographically and literally, he told The Boston Globe that he was going to talk more about his religion. Dean said Jesus was an important influence in his life because, “Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised.” George Bush isn’t the only politician to talk about God or Jesus, but he certainly gets the most heat for it.
In last week’s New York Times Magazine, Ron Suskind wrote a contemptuous article about George Bush’s belief in God. It was an offensive expose that, had it been about anyone else or any other religion, would have been unacceptable for print. Suskind described a leader who “demands unquestioning faith from his followers” and “complete faith in his rightness.” He wrote that Bush has created an environment in which “few dare to question him” and in which those who bring up “inconvenient facts” are “accused of disloyalty.” Suskind took these descriptions and blamed them on Bush’s Christianity and blind faith.
Suskind intentionally ignores the distinction between faith in oneself and faith in God. Clearly a person can have confidence in his own actions without it having anything to do with religion. To Suskind, if you believe what you’re doing is right, you’re a “messianic American Calvinist.” He quotes columnist Bruce Bartlett, who said, “This is why George W. Bush is so clear-eyed about al Qaeda and the Islamic fundamentalist enemy. He understands them, because he’s just like them.” Do these two men truly believe Bush is waging an American jihad against Muslim infidels? I don’t really think they do, and hopefully other voters aren’t blind to these scare tactics.
During the primaries, Sen. Lieberman said, “Faith was central to our founding and remains central to our national purpose.” America was based on Judeo-Christian values. This is an indisputable fact. George Washington, our most revered citizen, once said, “Without a humble imitation of the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, we can never hope to be a happy nation. While just government protects all in their religious rights, true religion affords to government its surest support.” By 18th-century standards, Bush is practically an apostate.
The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Liberals are acting like Bush is forcing all Americans to attend church every day and pray every night. They might cite his policies on abortion and stem-cell research as examples of his religious extremism, but both of these practices still exist and are funded by the federal government. In addition, money from Bush’s faith-based initiative is given to programs of every religion and may not be used for “inherently religious activities such as worship, or prayer.”
Bush said to Bob Woodward in “Plan of Attack,” “I’m surely not going to justify the war based upon God. Understand that. Nevertheless, I pray to be as good a messenger of his will as possible.” How is this belief dangerous to our country? Bush is guilty of having deep convictions based on his values.
Regardless of religious beliefs, all Americans will agree with Bush that “Freedom is the deepest need of every human soul,” and “the advance of liberty is the path to a safer and better world.” These are ideas of faith, and our president believes strongly enough in them to lead this country in a challenging time. While some are running away from the historical and basic values of our shining city upon a hill, Bush’s faith gives him patience and “calmness in the storm of the presidency.”
Mike Slater is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.