October 13, 2006

Mocking Christians

Following up on the last post about the Democratic Party and liberal moral values, I thought it was a good time to take a look at how deep the trumpeted values of the current administration run.

The title of this post comes from David Kuo, former #2 man in Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiative. Here’s the quote from his book Tempting Faith:

[The White House] was mocking the millions of faithful Christians who had put their trust and hope in the President and his administration.

Bush, with his promises to evangelicals, gave me a bit of a scare when he was elected. After all, I have strong feelings about religion and its uses. I feel that religious belief is a personal choice and that there are dangers that come with mixing religion and politics.

I thought that we’d get two things out of the Bush administration once he was in office.

  1. Wrong, although sincere, changes in the government that would seek to incorporate Christian doctrine into the making of law (such as decisions based on dogma rather than facts or science).
  2. Use of religion to consolidate political power for the Republicans, who would slowly increase their focus on thing #1 which would feed a stronger grip on political power. Repeat as necessary.

I was not correct in my forecast.

I have been surprised, recently, and even before the Republican leadership’s page predator cover-up scandal, to hear that “evangelicals might be sitting this election out.” The reason? They are disappointed in Bush not following through on their expectations of his presidency.

This surprised me because I have sat through the creation of the National Day of Prayer, the creation of an office specifically for so-called “faith-based initiatives,” stem cell restrictions right out of the gate, and the appointment of (apparently) more socially conservative judges. Some socially moderate Republicans I spoke to, after a few beers, would also admit to worry about these indicators and trends.

Meanwhile, some in Bush’s base were apparently feeling out in the cold. Why? The flaw in my prediction seemed clear. I was right on #2 — the use of religion to shore up power — but wrong on an aspect of #1 — the sincerity and following through.

Keith Olberman reports on the revelations within Kuo’s book (see the video). The picture he paints is one of cynical use of the sincerely religious. Kuo left the White House after coming to his conclusions about the lack of sincerity on the part of the administration.

I wasn’t completely wrong on #1. Instead of a conspiracy to merge religion and government we got money spent and wasted on initiatives that went nowhere, and socially conservative bones thrown when there was enough political capital to spend. Also, we got what was essentially a subsidization of the re-election of Republicans. If I were a practicing Christian, I’m sure I would be especially outraged at this. Never mind the hyped up “culture war” that is inflated like an ominous parade float every time votes are needed — a practice which has probably damaged moderate Christianity more than it’s annoyed me. It’s (literally) adding insult to injury to find out that after the hugs and conference calls, Christians and prominent social conservatives were derided.

People who might otherwise be disinclined to trust a politician wanted desperately to hear that, after the hated Clenis, there was a God President in office, one who spoke their code phrases and would deliver them a more Christian nation. They were ready to believe, and they were good at it.

Watch Olberman’s report for more information. The book itself doesn’t come out until Monday.

Posted by James at October 13, 2006 12:11 AM
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