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RELIGION AND POLICY
Who would Jesus invade?

By Avery Walker | RAW STORY COLUMNIST

Something caught my attention in the last debate and I was wondering if you caught it, too. Did anybody else out there happen to catch that the President of the United States, commander of the most powerful military on Planet Earth and leader of the free world, said that God told him to invade another country? And did you find that at all … alarming? Or, as I did, terrifying beyond belief and comprehension?

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“We've unleashed the armies of compassion.” Bush said quite clearly, “To help heal people who hurt. I believe that God wants everybody to be free. That's what I believe. And that's been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty.” That quote is neither abridged nor out of context. It’s just insane.

“Unleashed the Armies of compassion?” Delivered to you, from the Almighty by the United States Armed Forces — the gift of invasion! Still, it felt more like an ominous warning than an explanation of foreign policy. Use of the word “unleashed” makes it feel derived from Julius Caesar (“Cry ‘havoc!’ and let loose the dogs of war!”) which is, itself, rather disturbing. And, with hurricanes brewing, the Earth quaking, and America’s most noteworthy volcano blowing off some threatening steam things are beginning to feel a bit ominous. It’s as if someone is already calling up their Masonic powers to bring forth some untold evil come Election Day. If a Lioness gives birth in the streets of Washington, D.C., everybody run for the hills.

For a long while, I was expecting Bush to correct himself. Certainly, his thoughts were delivered out of context. He didn’t. Next, my hopes fell to John Kerry to, well… point out that God shouldn’t be directing the U.S. military. He didn’t. Finally, I prayed that the pundits might at least call it “The big misstep of the evening.” My prayers, like so many before, went unanswered.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are living in any other country in the world. You are watching the U.S. Presidential debate, knowing that the outcome will likely impact your life, as well. And you hear that come out of the mouth that is attached to the hunched shoulder directing the finger that has always seemed a little too eager to hit that button. Bush is always quick to point out when Kerry has, in some puerile way, hurt an ally’s feelings or sent the wrong message to the enemy — imagine how they’re reacting to the news that God is telling Dubya who to invade. If that won’t make Kim Jong Il sleep with a shotgun under your pillow, I don’t know what will.

Yet this actually played well to the astonishingly ethnocentric American voter. Jesus, even if he’s packin’ an Uzi, is just alright by them. Now, if he had said that the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, a talking tree, little green men or any other creature just as plausible had told him to invade Afghanistan, this might have freaked voters out a little. Or at least that 30 percent of sane Americans I keep insisting is out there. But only a handful of secular Republicans have even bothered take notice, prompting some to go so far as speculate that a Bush re-election might spell the end of the Republican Party. Now, that, truly, might be a Godsend.

Alas, we have solved the mystery of that “bump on Bush’s back.” I was sharing my thoughts with Xanadu Xero today. I agreed that there was very clearly something there, but felt that it was most likely the box for a lapel mic. I did have some doubt, though, as there was that one moment when Bush looked rather confused and said, “Let me finish,” out of nowhere and to no one in particular. Or did he? Now we know who he was really hearing: It wasn’t Karl Rove. “It was the Lord!” She chirped.

Frankly, I never bought that Mister Bush could be the Jesus Supafreak he claims to be. His prayer photo-ops, non-Kosher diet and utter lack of compassion for those earning less than $200,000 a year seem to be in direct conflict with Biblical teaching. Although many, many churches worldwide opposed the war in Iraq, Bush didn’t seem to mind. The National Council of Churches (Bush’s own Methodist Church is involved) leaves abortion and gay marriage out of their election guides, as “churches aren’t united” on Bush’s top “religious” issues. Their number one thought for congregation voters? “War is contrary to the will of God.” Sounds like Jesus and Bush aren’t as close as the President would have you believe.

It has recently occurred to me, however, that there is one thing Bush and the Almighty do (if you believe the Bible to be the literal truth,) have in common: They’re both giant flip-floppers who vehemently deny being any such thing.

"God is not a man...neither the son of man, that he should repent," says Numbers 23:19. But, in Samuel 15:35, “the Lord repented that he made Saul king over Israel." And in Exodus 32:14, more repenting from the big guy in the sky (which according to the book of Genesis is solid,) “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."

“"I don't want to sound like I have made no mistakes,” Bush said when a town hall attendee trumped him by asking him to admit to three. “I'm confident I have. I just haven't." I didn’t remove any of that second sentence. Bush simply changed topics to explain that he wasn’t prepared for the question.

Apparently, however, both have made plenty. God is for, against, and just okay with Polygamy. Bush was against McCain-Feingold, then he was for it, then he was against it again. God said that Adam and Eve would die “in the day” they ate the apple (Genesis 2:17), but allowed Adam to live 930 years after doing just that (Genesis 5:5). Bush said he was going to double job training funds, then actually cut into them. God said boys must be circumcised (Genesis 17:10), and then that that wasn’t going to get them anywhere in His eyes (Galatians 5:2). Bush pushed “leave no child behind” and then decided that maybe some should, under-funding the national program shortly after the graduation statistics out of Texas were re-adjusted to show a 40 percent dropout rate. Jesus performed the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-2) or on the plain (Luke 6:17-20), depending on which Gospel you choose to believe. Bush somehow served in Vietnam without ever leaving the continental United States.

Bush said that he didn’t really think about what became of Osama bin Laden, and later denied saying it. Some days, they’re on his trail, others they have no idea how to find the 6’4” man dragging along a dialysis machine and military arsenal. He also seems unclear as to where A.Q. Khan and the principal 9/11 military planner are.
The New Testament has a similar problem figuring out what happened to its principal characters. Did Judas hang himself, as in Matthew 27:5? Or was it that he simply fell, “bust open in the middle”, and died when his “bowels gushed out,” as in Acts 1:16-19? What were Jesus’ last words? "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" As in Psalm 22:1? "Father, unto thy hands I commend my spirit," as in Luke 23:46? Or “It is finished,” as in John 19:30? It’s a little difficult to tell — it’s tough to keep stories straight when there are four different versions of who the witnesses were. At least the New Testament has nearly 2,000 years of duplication and translation to blame; Bush can’t keep a quote from Kerry straight ten minutes after a debate is over.

I could go on and on, but frankly it’s boring me and anyone who hasn’t noticed these inconsistencies has been blinded by want of devotion. My points are: 1) It sounds like both G-W-B and G-O-D have a hard time admitting they’ve ever changed their minds; and 2) Anyone who believes that every word of the Bible is the literal truth is totally and completely insane, and shouldn’t be driving a bus, let alone running the country. You can’t be a true Biblical fundamentalist, because the Bible itself repeatedly refutes its own telling of events. If God is telling the President to invade countries, he should probably be locked up before he goes all Waco on us and John Ashcroft is forced to choose between tear-gassing his version of the second coming and letting a heretic like Dick Cheney in the White House.

Now, before the hate mail floods in, I want to make a few points clear. First of all, I support the war in Afghanistan. Iraq is a different story, but the President didn’t mention it by name.

I do not, however, support a President who uses religious beliefs (especially delusional ones) to make policy and launch wars. If you believe that the essence of the Bible is true, and understand that it was written by flawed human beings, passed down through generations, and yes, assembled by committee, but still believe in the overall message and use it to improve your life and the lives of others, God bless you. March on, spread compassion and joy, and fight the good fight. But if you believe that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are both the literal truth, you are either incapable of reading, or are a total and complete idiot. You have the right to be such an idiot, but don’t impose your insanity on others, by, say, invading another country or sending me irrational e-mails.

George W. Bush claims to be a Christian fundamentalist. He isn’t, but he thinks he is and that’s almost as scary. In reality, he is what I call a faux-fundamentalist—a person who picks the Biblical laws they want to see enforced and the degree to which they want it enforced (based upon their own cultural prejudices and beliefs,) using select Biblical passages to justify amoral beliefs. These people get to have their flip and flop it, too.

For instance, Bush signed a law in Texas making same-sex only sodomy (there’s that picking and choosing) punishable by a fine and possible jail time (keeping retribution at a culturally acceptable level). If Bush truly believed in Biblical law, he’d have to make it punishable by death—along with disobeying your parents, being raped in a city, or working on the Sabbath. Hope you don’t need a Doctor, COP or Fireman on Sunday, folks. Or your accountant on a Friday. Bush is no fundamentalist. He’s just a bit of a redneck. And, apparently, an especially dangerous one since he thinks God tells him what to do, and, well, runs this country.
What frightens me most isn’t Bush’s personal power, however. It is that Bush is able to use religion to look like a good person in the eyes of voters. If he can make voters who think that they’re fundamentalists think that he is, too, his actions are justified. What’s wrong with Americans that makes them this susceptible to a wildly misrepresented version of religious doctrine? In no other country in the Western World would this be considered acceptable behavior from a leader.

As a number of civilizations have learned, there is a problem with tailoring public policy to appease a supernatural creator: Nobody knows for sure exactly what they want. People have never interpreted God in the same way, nor can they when the Bible is so repeatedly contradictory. We may not be hurling human hearts down the side of a pyramid yet, folks, but our servicemen are dying in wars this President has engaged us in, and mismanaged. Two flip-floppers in denial like Dubya and the Almighty might have a great time hangin’ out on a Sunday afternoon, but “That’s not the kind of consistency we look for in a leader.” I, for one, would sleep better at night knowing we had a President who relied on reason, evidence, and the real world to determine policy.

 

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