You know, it dawned on me the other day that Bush's inaugural address and it's emphasis on the unique power of freedom undermines -- or should undermine -- the popular conception that Bush is a "theocon." According to those who were horrified when Bush cited Jesus Christ as his favorite political philosopher, our president is a Christian "crusader." How many times have we read that?
Well in his speech, he said:
There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and
resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the
decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.
Now, I understand that Christians and particularly evangelicals have a theologically and morally serious understanding of free will, liberty etc. But, according to the caricature of Bush, he should have said that the only historical force which can do all of those wonderful things is acceptance of Jesus Christ or, at minimum, acceptance of God or "faith."
He didn't say that. Indeed, the notion that political freedom is the only proven weapon against tyrants and tyranny which can "reward the hopes" of decent people would be something akin to heresy if Bush were anything like the religious fanatic so many people tell us he is.
Now I can't tell you the number of my friends who were dismayed that I supported Bush precisely because of the "Christian Crusader" aspect that Jonah mentions. I found it interesting that this bias against Christianity has become a focal point for many people's dislike of Bush. To be honest, that aspect of his personality never seemed to me to be much different from any other politician on the national scene. Except that it seemed more sincere.
There have been numerous articles about the invocation of God in speeches--every President since Washington has done it. Lincoln mentioned God numerous times in his Gettysburg Address and many of his other speeches. FDR refers to the Deity over and over again in his speeches during WWII. So what is the big deal with President Bush doing the same?
As far as I can determine, the one thing that most people have said--and they say it in some disbelief--is that Bush means it! Instead of giving God lipservice, we find in President Bush a person who is sincere and means what he says. Why, he even admits to (shudder) praying. The obvious question is what kind of fanatic actually believes what he says and admits that he has faith in God?
Now, I am an unredeemed sinner myself, but some of my best friends are religious and even I find it a fairly normal thing to be around them. As long as noone trys to convert me to their particular way of thinking about God and matters ecclesiastical, I am content to let them be who they are.
I find the most obnoxiously religious people to be people on the Left, whose evangelical zeal in trying to make everyone believe what they do to be unsurpassed by most traditional religious types. And the fervor with which they believe in Marx and Chomsky and other similarly Leftist theologians is indistinguishable from those in the throes of religious ecstasy.
What is especially annoying about some religions and some people who practice them--whether Christian, Isamic, or Leftist, or a combo thereof-- is their predeliction for trying to pass laws to make me think and/or behave as they do. And for this, I am willing condemn all religious zealots who want their beliefs imposed on everyone, no matter their specific religious orientation.
But for the record, I don't think President Bush qualifies in the religious fanatic category. Maybe he's a Freedom Fanatic--but then, so am I.