A man set apart by God
When George W. Bush was governor of Texas and decided to run for president, he described his decision in terms of a divine mandate: He had been “called,” a phrase that evokes 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 priestly or ministerial ordination.
His premonition of his presidential role during a national disaster was documented in a new book by Christian author Stephen Mansfield, The Faith of George W. Bush. Bush said to James Robinson: ‘I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can’t explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen… I know it won’t be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.’
Normally the media loves to expose the pretensions of those claiming divine favor, but the 2000 election demonstrated that media angst over delusions of grandeur is reserved for those who take credit for the internet.
For some reason George W. Bush has rarely been targeted for his exalted spiritual claims about his role in politics and history. This lack of scrutiny is an especially serious omission since his so-called faith-based decision-making has had a profound impact on hundreds of millions of people worldwide.
The cost of divine right
The toll? With God’s nod and the affirmation of the top one percent income group, Bush has subjected Americans to hundreds of billions of dollars in debt via his tax cuts. He has cited divine justification for the war inIraq , a war that has resulted in thousands of Americans dead and wounded and tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, many of them women and children.
Though not averse to the president’s Biblical desire to vindicate wrongs, his Department of Justice has thus far failed to exact proportionate justice from the most serious of corporate offenders. Bush’s environmental initiatives speak of protecting God’s creation, and yet a pro-business approach rolls back years of regulated environmental protection.
Quoting chapter and verse
All this and more, and yet he remains unchallenged when he claims that he continues to do God’s work. For in spite of his continual declarations of divine guidance, no one has cited pertinent passages in the Bible that challenge his thinly-veiled claim of a presidential divine right (a subtle twist of the medieval divine right of kings): the Epistle of James in the New Testament, chapter 1, verse 26 warns, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”
President Bush’s television news conferences stage a stance of stalwart resistance against evil when faced with mismanagement of the Iraqi occupation. His continuing promotion of an all-encompassing crusade-like “war against terrorism” kindles fervor for converts to Jihad. Through repetition of this theme, he simplistically suggests a messianic struggle between good and evil.
In addition, many have become concerned that the administration’s Patriot Act erodes freedoms. Meanwhile, the deceit surrounding the extra $100 billion of cost for the Medicare bill that was bulldozed through Congress has come to light.
How Christian is this?
One has to ask if these actions, including an economic policy that gives money to the rich and results in reduced social benefits at the state level for the poor, are in keeping with the compassionate conservative he claims to be. Has anyone questioned whether this is un-Christian-like behavior? In Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 3, verse 12, he says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.”
I probably have only a small smattering of these qualities myself.
But then again, I don’t claim to be God’s messenger, and I have little sway over the fate of millions.