Friday, October 07, 2005

Politicians and Religion

"Politics is not religion and we should govern on the basis of evidence, not theology." Bill Clinton

The issue of a Palestinian State and peace in the Middle East is more complex than DNA, and I'm certainly not going to solve the equation here. But neither is any politician who says, "God told me to/how/that..."

No matter your belief system--or lack of one--you can't, as an intelligent person, honestly agree that Allah wants terrorists to kill innocent people in His name. That Mohammed wants to wipe all Jews off the face of the earth. That Jesus has a vested interest in any laws the US Congress might enact. That God voted for George W. Bush. And routinely tells him what to do.

That last one is a biggie these days. The BBC released some quotes from an upcoming series called Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, in which Arab leaders describe how Bush told them in June 2003 of his conversations with God.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas claims Bush said, "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them." Haaretz - Israel News
The unspoken subtext: God will be too busy helping me win reelection to pay attention to you.
Palestinian deputy prime minister Nabil Shaath told the BBC that he heard Mr Bush tell Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, "God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan’, and I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’, and I did." America, United States, Times Online, The Times, Sunday Times
When the White House press office went mildly ballistic, Shaath backed up, but just a bit.
"It was really a figure of speech (by Bush). We felt he was saying that he had a mission, a commitment, his faith in God would inspire him ... rather than a metaphysical whisper in his ear."
Americans aren't so sure it's just about faith. We're all too familiar with George W. Bush's intimate personal relationship with God. With amazing hubris and chutzpah he once said, "I believe that God wants me to be president."

It's one thing to have strong abiding faith in your religion -- and in yourself. It's another to allow the lines between the two to blur until you can't make a clear distinction or rational decisions based on non-religious facts. We know what happens when radical fanatics use religion to justify their actions. People die.

People died on 9/11 for a perverted cause abusing belief in Allah for political ideology. People have been dying in the Middle East for decades--centuries really--in the unholy name of religious entitlement. And people continue to die in Iraq -- because God told George W. Bush to start a war there. As Bill Cosby said in his brilliant comic routine Noah's Ark, "Riiiight."

Any time anyone anywhere claims to further a political agenda at the direct behest of a Higher Power, I get suspicious. It's too easy, too pat, far too self-serving -- and impossible to refute. It too often comes at the expense of other people's lives and liberties. Which, let's face it, no self-respecting Supreme Being would ever endorse. In any religion.

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Blogger Jessica Klarkson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:34 PM  
Blogger David Goldenberg said...

"In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing." Mark Twain -- Autobiography, 1959

This from yesterday's Buzzflash editorial "GOP Hypocrite of the Week:"

"For a long time we've been contemplating Bush's "get out of accountability card" for everything he has done to destroy America: his claim that he found Christ. We realize now that the basic dilemma with verifying this assertion is that no one has proven that Christ or God has found or accepted Bush." hyp05041.html

5:35 PM  
Blogger Stef the engineer said...

Stories like this reinforce my deeply held belief that people should be free to talk to whichever imaginary friend they want. When they claim their imaginary friends are talking back, and telling them what to do, it's a signal that the line between childishness and mental illness has been crossed.

4:01 AM  
Blogger Jack Naka said...

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10:42 PM  

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