The November 2004 issue of Christianity Today arrived in my mailbox the day after the election. Since one of the featured articles listed at the top of the front cover was “How Would Jesus Vote?” I immediately looked inside. Although the article was not exactly what I envisioned, it raised a good point as can be seen by its subtitle: “Single-issue politics is neither necessary nor wise.”
“How Would Jesus Vote?” is about abortion. Specifically, voting for candidates who are anti-abortion or pro-life. The article mentions how the hero of the religious right, Illinois Republican Senate candidate Alan Keyes, stated that Jesus would not vote for his Democratic opponent because his opponent had voted in the state Senate “against a bill requiring doctors to provide medical care to infants born alive after attempted abortions.”
Many Christians who otherwise dissent from President Bush’s war on the bill of rights undoubtedly voted for him because they were led to believe that he was anti-abortion or pro-life. It is my contention, however, that Bush is neither anti-abortion nor pro-life.
According to Alan Keyes, Bush “says words that are pro-life, but then he does things and he takes steps that demonstrate that he has no understanding of the principle involved.” When Bush decided to allow limited federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, Keyes commented: “I think if this decision were accepted it puts the pro-life principle on path of extinction. It seemed to accept the notion that we make these decisions based on some calculus of cost-benefits instead of on a clear understanding of principle.”
When Bush’s wife, who claims to support “the president’s position on abortion,” was asked whether she was pro-life, the First Lady responded: “Yes, I think abortion should be rare.” This sounds like Hillary Clinton, who, like her husband, said that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”
One card always played by Republicans at election time is that a Republican president should be elected because only he (rather than a Democrat) will appoint judges who oppose abortion. But Bush’s words and actions speak otherwise. He has ruled out a pro-life litmus test for judges. In 2001 Bush nominated Miguel A. Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals so he could have the first Hispanic in history to sit on what is widely viewed as the most prestigious Appeals Court in the nation. Estrada had worked in the Justice Department under President Clinton. As an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General, he argued fifteen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, one of which was hailed by the National Organization for Women because it successfully persuaded the Court to hold that that the RICO Act could be used against pro-life activists.
Bush had no problem supporting pro-abortion Republicans like Christy Todd Whitman, Arlen Specter, and Mr. Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.
Bush supported sending more of the taxpayer’s money overseas through his $15 billion emergency AIDS relief plan, even if the foreign social service agencies that received the funds promoted abortions.
Abortions are also on the rise in Iraq since Bush made war on a country where abortion was previously illegal except in medical emergencies.
To his credit, Bush did support the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban,” but so did Tom Daschle.
Although Bush often spouts anti-abortion rhetoric, his deeds show that he cannot be described as “anti-abortion.” The same can be said about Bush being “pro-life.”
When one hears the term “pro-life” the subject of abortion immediately comes to mind. But why is that? Why is the term “pro-life” limited to the issue of abortion? Is not all life sacred?
Bush’s undeclared, unconstitutional, immoral war has resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 American soldiers. And then there are the over 8,000 military personnel who were injured, many of whom will endure suffering the rest of their life. Bush does not believe in the sanctity of the life of the thousands of Iraqi troops killed or injured, not to mention the Iraqi civilian casualties.
To talk about the sanctity of life, the horrors of partial-birth abortion, and how you are pro-life, but then to turn around and show contempt for the lives of adults is hypocrisy in the highest degree. Are the lives of unborn children of more value than the lives of adults?
What is true of Bush on abortion is also true about Bush’s Christian rhetoric. When Bush mentions Christianity, faith, religion, or family values, well-intentioned, but gullible, conservative Christians, who certainly ought to know better, and would never support Bush’s budget-busting, amnesty for illegals, PATRIOT Act, prescription drug, “No Child Left Behind” agenda if there was a Democratic president like Bill Clinton in the White House pursuing the same policies, immediately claim the president as one of their own.
It has been pointed out here recently not only the fate of Christians in Iraq since Bush’s invasion of what once was a moderate Muslim state that tolerated Christianity more than bastions of democracy like Saudi Arabia, but also the persecution of Christians by Muslims in NATO-occupied Kosovo.
The new Iraqi constitution, which Bush hailed as “a historic milestone in the Iraqi people’s long journey from tyranny and violence to liberty and peace,” has an interesting statement in article 7 that no Christian in Iraq would appreciate: “Islam is the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation.” Furthermore, “No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam” may be enacted. Regardless of whatever else the Iraqi constitution says about democracy and equality before the law, how can a Christian commend this document?
Bush’s most egregious anti-Christian act is his promotion of the Muslim “holy month” of Ramadan. The White House website has an essay on “The Meaning of Ramadan.” Perhaps there is one there, but I don’t remember seeing any essay on “The Meaning of Christmas.” The ACLU would come unglued if they saw something like that. I don’t know about this year, but on October 28, 2003, Bush hosted a “dinner celebrating Ramadan at the White House.” When commenting on U.S. humanitarian aid to Afghanistan on October 11, 2002, Bush stated about Islam: “Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions.” On October 15 of this year, Bush released an official presidential message on Ramadan:
I send warm greetings to Muslims in the United States and around the world as they begin observance of Ramadan, the holiest season in their faith.
Ramadan commemorates the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammed. By teaching the importance of compassion, justice, mercy, and peace, the Qur’an has guided many millions of believers across the centuries. Today, this holy time is still set aside for Muslims to remember their dependence on God through fasting and prayer, and to show charity to those in need.
American history has taught us to welcome the contributions of men and women of all faiths, for we share the fundamental values of religious freedom, love of family, and gratitude to God. Americans who practice the Islamic faith enrich our society and help our Nation build a better future.
The U.S. Military even shares in Ramadan observances. According to the Department of Defense: “Non-Muslim members of the U.S. military in Muslim countries are learning about the observance of Ramadan. American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq study the Muslim faith. Soldiers from the First Army Division in Tikrit met with a local Imam on the first day of Ramadan to learn more about the holy month. The United States military reflects the nation’s commitment to religious freedom and respect for different faiths, both among its troops and the people who host our service men and women.”
Christians need to wake up. Bush is not the Messiah, the Saviour, or the fourth member of the Trinity. And neither is he anti-abortion or pro-life. And any Christian who believes that Muslims and Christians worship the same God is not much of a Christian.