president of the United States has asserted his religiosity more than
George W. Bush. Yet, as a person who takes his own religious tradition
seriously, no president has so embarrassed me by acting in such a way as
to violate the essential ethical message of religion and the teachings
of its most honored founders.
As a twenty-first century
American, steeped in this ancient literature, I cannot hear the present
without also hearing the echoes of the past. I cannot read of what Bush
and his administration have done in these five years without hearing the
voices of the Torah, the prophets and Jesus reminding him and us that we
as individuals and as a society can and should do better.
When President Bush makes
countless executive decisions in which he sacrifices environmental
concerns to the interests of particular industries, I hear the voice of
Genesis. It is in the first book of the Bible that, after creating man
and placing him into Eden, God announces to us our species' job
description. We are here to tend this global garden.
When President Bush
pressures Congress to eliminate or limit a whole range of social and
legal services designed for those who are in need, I hear the adamant
voices of Moses and the prophets. For Moses, walking with God means
taking care of the widow, the orphan and even the stranger who live
among us. It means opening our hands widely to the poor. It means
establishing a legal system and a civil administration which is neither
influenced by money nor class.
For the biblical prophets,
God judges a society, not on the basis of its martial triumphs,
influence or wealth, but on how the powerful treat the powerless. For
the prophet, a society is known by how the weakest live. For an Isaiah
or a Jeremiah, a society's growth or decline is dependent upon the
seriousness with which a ruler takes his social responsibility to the
poor and the disenfranchised.
When President Bush, during
this disastrous period of war and of record budget deficits, favors the
wealthiest among us with tax decreases, saddling the middle class, the
poor, and all our children with heavy fiscal burdens, I hear the voice
of the President's “favorite political philosopher.” Jesus of Nazareth
taught on the mountain that those whom should be blessed and cared for
are the poor, the meek and the peacemaker. Like his insistent prophetic
predecessors, Jesus had no patience whatsoever for those who would show
favor to the powerful over the powerless.
Many have argued that President Bush is too religious. On the contrary, I would argue that the President is not religious enough.
George, please, for our sake, for God’s sake, it is time for you to find religion!