“I have heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President.”
– George W. Bush, September 2000.
There’s an old adage: “Faith can move mountains.” Whoever came up with that gem probably didn’t leave the house a lot. In today’s tumultuous times, faith can barely move bowels, let alone mountains. Yet, we are encouraged by presidential candidates to vote for them based on how super-duper their personal religious beliefs are. The last time this country voted for someone who claimed that God was his co-pilot; things didn’t work out so hot. (See: first paragraph.)
Full disclosure, here: I am neither an agnostic nor an atheist. I was born and raised Catholic. I served 13 years in Catholic school, replete with characters like Sister Mary Mayhem and Father Fabulous-O. I believe in a higher power (although, today, that could mean Cheney on stilts) and I think Jesus pretty much defined what it means to be a good person in the Beatitudes. You remember. Blessed are the peacemakers, etc.?
Over the years, I’ve come to discover that people who talk about their faith the most usually have the least and those who rant about the angry God of the Old Testament usually have inflatable sex partners (or want one).
The introduction of God as a running mate is a pretty recent development and one that is a good reflection of a society wherein pro-lifers are in favor of the death penalty, guys like Bill Frist think folks like Terri Schiavo are one kick away from being a Rockette and Hot Pockets are considered a serious source of nourishment.
In days of yore, presidents and presidential candidates mentioned “God” only in passing and posed on Sundays at their churches. Religion never really entered the political picture. Even JFK, the first Catholic ever elected president, went out of his way to assure the American populace that he wasn’t a Papal puppet.
Over the past twenty years, however, politicians, largely Republican conservatives, have bent over backwards to display their higher moral values, sneering at their so-called secular brethren in the Democratic Party. And, when Republican conservatives weren’t bending over backwards to display their values, they usually found a variety of other swell things to do while they were in that position.
Since the days of Reagan, Republicans have made hay by publicly claiming the high moral ground, taking pandering to a new level while they diddled with danger in the dark. It was George W. Bush, however, who truly transformed religious pandering to an art form. Whenever he gets himself into a fix, he uses the words “faith” or “God” as his bullet-proof (and fact-proof) shield.
A couple of weeks ago, he was asked how he wanted the people of the Middle East to remember him. He replied: “I will be long gone before the true history of the Bush administration is written. (Note: especially with all those missing documents.) - I would hope, at least, at the very minimum, people would say that George W. Bush respected my religion, and has great concern for the human condition; that he hurts when he sees poverty and hopelessness; that he’s a realistic guy, because he understands that the only way that these extremists who murder the innocent can recruit is when you find — when they find hopeless situations — they have no vision that’s positive; and that he helped present an alternative, and that was one based upon liberty and the rights of men and women in a just and free society. That’s how I hope you remember me.”
While you’re wading through that slop, bear in mind that this devout fella is the same guy who defined his “love thy neighbor” mentality last year with “We believe in an Almighty. We believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don’t.”
To give Bush credit, the God of the Old Testament wasn’t big on nuance, either.
That could explain Bush’s grand view of the world. “I based a lot of my foreign policy decisions on some things that I think are true. One, I believe there’s an Almighty, and secondly, I believe one of the great gifts of the Almighty is the desire in everybody’s soul, regardless of what you look like or where you live, to be free.”
Hence, “Shock and Awe.”
Bush, who in the past has spoken to Christian groups with “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” banners in the background, is the first Republican president/prophet combo platter; someone who is as comfortable saying “We’ve unleashed the armies of compassion to help heal people who hurt” as he is “I’m the decider, see?”
He is truly an example of blind faith in action.
Now, after nearly eight years of a meandering Messianic meathead, the American people are being called to pick a new President and, as usual, Republicans are playing the “God” card. (It’s a Joker, folks.)
On the Democratic side, the candidates have all said that their faith has gotten them through hard times and they try, each day, to be a better person. Bully.
To be fair, on the Republican side, John McCain has said that he’s “just a Christian” and doesn’t claim to have the inside track on what makes God tick, while Giuliani has acknowledged that, although his religion is important to him, all Americans should be able to worship or not worship as they see fit. Kudos.
But Romney and Huckabee? Each, in their own way, want to be crowned Bush II. And that crown is made of tinfoil.
Now, everyone knows Mitt Romney is a Mormon. In fact, Romney made a speech about being a Mormon - albeit without actually mentioning what it meant to him to be a Mormon. Let’s take Romney’s religion out of the equation. Bereft of any religious affiliation, Romney would just be considered a run-of-the-mill putz.
He’s shown himself to be a money-grubbing, callously capitalistic elitist; a flip-flopping opportunist who would claim pigs can fly if it could get him elected. He does, however, have very presidential hair.
Because we live in the times of Blessed Bush, Romney has gone out of his way to make sure we know that: a) he is a bona fide Christian and, b) he’s as jingoistic as any old time Crusader.
“There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us,” he recently intoned. “If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders.”
Somewhere, Ben Franklin is nursing a fifth of whiskey.
Romney is all for the separation of church and state but warns that, in recent years, it’s “been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgement of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism.”
Hmmm. Then, why do Christians traditionally eat chocolate bunnies at Easter and not chocolate Saviors? Someone get O’Reilly on this! Stat! There’s an infiltrator in our midst!
Romney has also picked up Bush’s bug-up-the-ass about “Islamofascism” and “jihadists,” warning about this “creed of conversion by conquest: violent Jihad, murder as martyrdom – killing Christians, Jews and Muslims with equal indifference.”
From the mountain, Romney has declared: “These radical Islamists do their preaching not by reason or example, but in the coercion of minds and the shedding of blood. We face no greater danger today than theocratic tyranny, and the boundless suffering these states and groups could inflict if given the chance.”
Adhering to the “faith of his fathers,” (and omitting the kinky bits like racism and polygamy), Romney has portrayed himself as just one of the devoutly Christian herd.
Church spokesman Michael Purdy, contacted by ABC News for a clarification of Mormon theology, admitted that Mormonism was a little different than regular Christianity. It teaches that Jesus is going to show up in America one fine day.
“We believe that Christ will return again to the Earth, and while that day is not imminent, it is our responsibility to prepare for that eventuality. One appearance will be to the new Jerusalem and another will be to the Jerusalem of the old world,” he said. “It is our belief that the new Jerusalem will be established within the state of Missouri.”
(I’m thinking Missouri is going to see a lot of pork projects under President Romney.)
If Romney is a God Squad wannabe, Mike Huckabee is the real deal. An affable, down-home guy who loves jamming on his bass guitar, Huckabee is, in a word, whacked.
This is a professional Christian who defended his belief in the death penalty by saying “If there was ever an occasion for someone to have argued against the death penalty, I think Jesus could have done so on the cross and said, ‘This is an unjust punishment and I deserve clemency.’”
Forget the theological slapstick of that statement, for a moment. What it boils down to: if Jesus can take it, so can you, wussy. Top of the world, Ma!!!
Buried beneath his quick-wit and Gomeresque demeanor, ol’ Mike has quite a few interesting beliefs. He thinks America’s “holocaust” of abortions has caused the work shortage leading to the present wave of illegal Mexican immigrants. Save a fetus. Pick a strawberry. Also: the Earth is about 6,000 years old. And, “Inherit the Wind” be damned, evolution isn’t scientifically accurate.
He attributes his popularity to the Big Guy. “There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of five thousand people.”
(And that little boy, Dudley Pudinski, later went on to found Dumpster Diving Caterers.)
Ol’ Huck is also against gay marriage “until Moses comes down with two stone tablets from Brokeback Mountain saying he’s changed the rules.”
Huck thinks marriage means “a man and a woman in a relationship for life” (Hark! I hear Newt Gingrich crying.) and doesn’t think it’s radical to slip that into the Constitution. “I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women (Note: take that, Mitt!), a man and a child, a man and an animal.”
I’m not sure if this latter definition is immoral but it would make a hell of an HBO show.
When not touting the benefits of flying the Confederate Flag, Huckabee has vowed to be all over the Constitution. “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,” he said, recently. “But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that’s what we need to do – to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.”
So, get ready, Americans! Public stoning for adulterers! No coveting! No worshipping pop idols! A resurgence in slavery! Sniff. It’s enough to make me wander around in the back yard for 40 years.
The fact that Huckabee makes absolutely no sense is deemed to be a plus when it comes to his alleged base, the born-again Christian crowd. Huckabee sees his running as “a unique kind of opportunity. For a long time, those of us who are people of faith were asked to support candidates who would come and talk to us. But rarely has there been one who comes from us.”
Regarding his position in the Evangelical movement, Huckabee says “Many of us who have been Republicans out of conviction – the social conservatives – were welcomed in the party as long as we sort of kept our place, but Lord help us if we ever stood forward and said we would actually like to lead the party.”
Before folks don their official Huck is our Hero hair shirts, they might reflect on exactly what devout Republican conservatives have brought to this country in the last couple of decades. Long on wind and short on action, they’ve nearly bankrupted this nation (on every level) while getting caught in scandals involving everything from stealing to sodomy. Praise the Lord and pass the underage pages.
To show you just how puritanically perverse this government has become, the FCC is threatening to fine ABC $1.4 million dollars for a 2003 episode of “NYPD Blue.” The episode showed a showering woman’s butt. ABC protested but the FCC is standing firm.
“We find that the programming at issue is within the scope of our indecency definition because it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically an adult woman’s buttocks,” the FCC says. “Although ABC argues, without citing any authority, that the buttocks are not a sexual organ, we reject this argument, which runs counter to both case law and common sense.”
In other words, our government considers the ass a sexual organ. I guess Moses has just come down from Brokeback Mountain, after all.
So, prior to Super-Duper Tsunami Tuesday when the blind will see some candidates walk on water, let’s go back to the source. Let’s see what Jesus (aka “The Naz” in Catholic school) put forth as a platform in the Beatitudes before it was “interpreted” by today’s prophets of profit.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Note: Invalid if you fall below the national poverty level. If so, we have a lovely box under a bridge for you. It’s quite roomy.)
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Note: Unless you used to live in New Orleans. For you, we offer a ticket to Texas or a tainted trailer. Offer expires yesterday.)
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.” (Note: Because, under eminent domain laws, we get to possess your home and turn it into a mall.)
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.” (Note: If you earn over $200,000 a year.)
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Note: This does not apply to those on the “No Fly List,” “The Enemies List” or anyone who has gone to anti-American sites on the internet; like the ACLU’s home page.)
“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” (Note: This offer only applies to heterosexuals.)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Note: Either that or un-American cowards, traitors or terrorist sympathizers.)
“Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Note: America does not torture, nor persecute, nor spy, nor discriminate. Get over it.)
To quote George W. Bush: “Our priorities is our faith.”
To quote Gandhi: “When faith becomes blind, it dies.”
Let us pray.
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