• George Bush, the Inaugural, and Dude-Ranch Christianity

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    Forty
    million dollars spent on inaugural festivities. Enough security
    to reassure even the most paranoid Nervous Nellie. And behind it
    all, a president who brays about his Christianity, hobnobs with
    leaders of the Religious Right, and, most surprisingly, has captured
    the hearts and dogged loyalty of that large portion of the American
    electorate identifying itself as "Christian."

    George
    W. Bush is an obvious hypocrite. He regularly violates by both his
    policies and his personal behavior the strictures of the Bible he
    claims to believe. To cite one glaring instance, he swore before
    Almighty God to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,"
    then foisted the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security
    on us. To cite a few more, he repeatedly insisted Iraq had WMD's,
    violating the Ninth Commandment against bearing false witness; based
    on spurious evidence, he embroiled the US in a war that, by classical
    Christian definition, is shockingly unjust. Yet his supporters are
    not dissuaded. They continue praising Bush for his "Christian
    witness," his "traditional values." However, in the
    inaugural blow-out just past, Bush may have flaunted his hypocrisy
    so brazenly that American Christians will at long last repent of
    their gullibility.

    Christians
    are assured throughout Scripture that their Heavenly Father will
    protect them, that their lives are in His hands. Christians are
    not to fret over their personal health and well-being: God determines
    what befalls us. When He chooses – and only when He chooses – our earthly
    life ends. No Christian, then, ever dies before his time, nor does
    any accident or crisis befall him God has not allowed.

    Bush
    is having none of this. The God he professes is a puny little deity,
    unable to protect him from curious glances (those participating
    in the inaugural parade were forbidden from so much as looking at
    the President), let alone assassins' bullets. Black Hawk helicopters,
    sky marshals in every commercial flight near DC, barricades around
    the White House, closed streets – these ludicrously overblown precautions,
    and not the Almighty, are what protect the President. Far better
    to place one's faith in bomb-sniffing dogs than in their Creator.

    The
    Bible also warns Christians against "worldliness," i.e.,
    the love of money and power, luxurious living, obsession with material
    prosperity. God will supply our needs, though not necessarily our
    wants; "having food and raiment," St. Paul urges us, "let
    us be therewith content." It is difficult to read any of the
    66 books in the Bible without being reminded of the evils of worldliness.

    And
    again, Bush spurns the Scriptures. His lavish inaugural festivities
    broke all records for expense and excess; Bush excused such vulgarity
    by asserting that his partisans deserve to celebrate. He glories
    in his electoral victory as much as any Babylonian or Assyrian tyrant
    gloried in his military victory over the fragments of ancient Israel.
    Either he is ignorant or he doesn't care that the Bible strongly
    condemns such arrogance and pride.

    Bush's
    "Christianity" is politically expedient and therefore
    easily explained, however despicable. With huge percentages of the
    country professing itself Christian, it's a wonder more presidents
    haven't trumpeted their faith as loudly as the current one. What
    is harder to understand is the blind trust many American Christians
    bestow on him. Why would schoolteachers and drugstore clerks, waitresses
    and auto mechanics believe Bush to be a Christian when his actions
    so plainly speak otherwise?

    Perhaps
    it is because Bush's version of Christianity is the dude-ranch variety.
    Just as guests on a dude ranch are treated to the excitement and
    rewards of riding the range without any of the danger confronting
    real cowboys, so Bush subtracts all the disagreeable or downright
    unpleasant stuff from Christianity. Biblical Christianity makes
    for a difficult lifestyle; done right, it can make one unpopular
    or even dead. Bush is not the first "Christian" to discover
    that it's much easier to boast about one's Christianity than to
    live it, and he is legitimizing this hypocrisy for millions of Americans.
    He takes the rigorous righteousness to which Christ calls us, the
    unerring devotion to truth, the respect and dignity Christians are
    to accord all men, even Arabs and dissenters, and says, "Nah."
    Bush's "Christianity" is exclusively words, not deeds.

    And
    therein lies his appeal to modern American Christians, most of whom
    live very pampered lives, few of whom have ever faced persecution
    for their faith. Indeed, their biggest spiritual challenge is sticking
    with their diet or turning off the TV long enough to attend church.
    They feel vaguely guilty – after all, aren't Christians supposed to
    suffer for their faith? There's something about martyrs in the Bible,
    isn't there? – but not guilty enough to relinquish the comfortable
    life and the moral compromises, beginning with their worship of
    the state. Now here is no less an authority than the president – the
    PRESIDENT! Of the WHOLE UNITED STATES! – proving that
    what you say matters far more than what you do. Stutter the right
    words, and you can live as you please. Go ahead and say you believe
    in God, but when it comes to bodily protection and security, why
    trust a deity you can't see? It's been a long time since a president
    died on the Secret Service's watch, but once they turn him over
    to the Lord – well, look at Reagan. Besides, the Secret Service and
    the FBI probably outgun God, anyway. And what's wrong with celebrating?
    Christian humility has its place, sure, but not when you've just
    whupped the Democrats. Only bad guys who aren't "with us"
    begrudge a hard-working president a good time. Live it up! Enjoy
    life: that's what the Good Lord put us here for. Give Him a "Howdy!"
    in church on Sunday, and savor the dude-ranch the rest of the week.

    Ride
    'em, Cowboy.

    January
    24, 2005

    Becky
    Akers [send her mail] writes
    fiction and non-fiction about the American Revolution.

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