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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Why Are We Afraid of God?

My pre-breakfast read this morning consisted of two very interesting articles about religion and America. One, an op/ed piece in the Washington Post about "How the GOP Became God's Own Party", the other in Newsweek, "God and the Founders".

The articles got me wondering, how has such a vocal segment of society become so afraid of the idea of God in America, and faith in general?

We aren't, as some on the far right want to say "a Christian Country", though we were founded by Christians. They were in fact very wary of too much religion in government because of the differences between different churches. Yet those same founders mentioned God early and often in the making of the country.

At the same time, we aren't, and never were a secular country that ignored religion, as some on the far left would have you believe. We've used a bible since the first inauguration to swear the oath of office on, and the first Continental Congress was opened with Psalm 35:

Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
A fitting verse for a group looking to break away from England and the King.

The Viet Nam era would be the starting point to look for the decline, and to some demonization of religion and God in America. It coincides with the rise of the "intellectual elite" of the left, who've come to dominate the Democratic party.

Why has that intellectual end declared George Bush, and to a lesser extent his father and Ronald Reagan, has turned the US into a theocracy? That idea has only risen to the top since 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, it's a red herring to try and show that the US government is no better than a Taliban or the Iranian mullahs.

The truth of their fears, though is deeper than that, they've just found some interesting scapegoats. The truth is that the "intellectual elite" dislike religion because those of faith believe that their is a higher power than them, and that there may be a moral compass.

Gary Hart, disgraced former Senator and presidential candidate has been leading the charge of late to claim Bush has turned America into "God's Country".

Hart, and Bill Clinton show the left's weakness when it comes to the idea of a "higher power", while Bush to the faithful shows the power of belief. Look at the contrasts on how each has handled personal issues in their life.

Gary Hart, who issued a challenge to the media to follow him as he ran for President was caught redhanded with a hottie on his lap. Immediately he decided that it was the "religious right" out to demonize him and get his personal business involved in the race. Shortly thereafter he left into obscurity. Donna Rice is still thanking him for her 15 minutes of fame however.

Bill Clinton was caught or implicated on numerous occasions of being less than faithful to his wife. Instead of admitting a human frailty which may have gotten him some sympathy decided the best thing was coverup and obsfucation.

While the impeachment's necessity debatable, it was never the less avoidable with a little humility. Instead we got to watch the President of the US debate the meaning of the word "is" on national television.

He also provided us with the laugher of the 1992 election when asked about marijuana use, and claimed he'd puffed but never inhaled. Willie Nelson and Jimmy Carter can tell you from roof top experience that isn't very problable.

Turn now to George Bush. Instead of saying "I smelled some cocaine, but never snorted" he told America about his finding help with God and faith and Billy Graham. He's talked freely of problems in his youth with drink and drugs, and still been elected as both a Governor and President.

To the intellectual elite on the left it's an enigma, showing of weakness, and admitting of faith and still getting elected. They know that Clinton would have lost 1992 if it wasn't for Ross Perot being in the race, in part because his marijuana defense was so laughable.

It shouldn't be an surprise to them though, America has traditionally embraced human frality, and the humility that comes with it. We've never looked for perfect leaders, we've looked for leaders we can relate to. When the folks who want to lead become know-it-all's who are smarter than everyone, we tune them out.

We'd rather have leaders that have experienced lows in life, and risen above them than leaders who claim that nothing can get them down. George Bush personifies that, while John Kerry and Al Gore instead showed us "holier than thou" attitudes about religion.

The funny thing about this whole issue is while the left will deride anyone who shows too much faith, they'll be sure to be photographed in church at least once a month during election season to prove they aren't "godless", they'll get Jesse Jackson to bless something, and talk unconvincingly about their faith. I'm sure God gets a kick out of being used as a prop for elections.

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Blogger Steven Tucker said...

I think people are afraid of the Abrahamic Religions, not God. People are worried about what people will do when they are making faith-based decisions, as opposed to rational ones. The way I see it, Christian Conservatives place no more faith in their God and their religious teachings, than do Socialists place in their Idealism. I'm scared of them both. Only, Christians seem to think I still deserve economic liberties (I just have to watch them to make sure they don't try to take away my civil liberties or my political liberties, given that I am not one of them).

11:43 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

At the time of the Founding, there were plenty of doomsday cults, and the Founders, though enlightened Christians, were leery of them.

Marx declared war on God and atheism is the religion of communists. Let's face it, power-hungry Marxists want government to be God. That way they can play God.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I agree with ST- I have no problem with other people's religion, but don't want it shoved down my throat. I really don't care about trivial things like a nativity scene on the court house lawn, or the pledge of allegiance, but I draw the line with govt. partnerships and the govt. showing any religion favoritism. Bush saying he's Godly doesn't win him any brownie points in my book. He talks the talk but is just as much of a liar as any Democrat. Rule #1: All politicians are liars.
#2:If they say "trust me" see rule#1.

1:46 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Any belief of any sort can be used to create an authoritarian state. Secular Fundamentalism is everybit as threatening to freedom as any other religious belief.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Hi Bob....Christianity, as with anything else, can only be discussed intelligently by those that know the truth of the issues. There are those, both right and left, that aren't qualified on those grounds to take part in that discussion. Let's all research Christianity and Democracy before joining in.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Steven, faith and logic can be used together, they aren't mutually exclusive. I don't want someone making their choices ONLY on faith, but using it as a guide isn't an issue to me.

Patrick, you are correct on the your Marxism thought, IMHO. Which is why I dislike the idea of "having the government take care of us".

Tim, it can (and will be,I'm sure) argued that government excluding religion, or religious groups from certain things is as big a violation of the 1st amendment as allowing them exclusive partnerships.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, can be read to say that making a law that says "faith based groups CANNOT participate" is a violation of the 1st Amendment. The key is that you can't make it exclusive to them, or one group.

Shoprat, that's very true. I think the Marxism quote above kind of hints at that.

Mike, you are right on that. There are lots of folks who argue against certain government issues that don't know how it works, and the same is true of religious ones.

6:37 AM  

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