I seldom write about politics because every time one interjects politics into a discussion, there are always Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, right and left, black and white, day and night.
When dealing with politics and political issues, it is difficult to find someone who is neutral or even someone who can objectively look at the issues and take a stance that is not defined by party affiliation or ideology.
Most politicians in Washington do not reflect the views of their constituency. A country that elects a President with an almost 50-50% margin, is a country that is divided politically and ideologically.
The reason I am writing on politics today is because a few days ago, I wrote a rebuttal to a blog which declared that George Bush was the Antichrist. In response to my blog, someone wrote a vitriolic comment denouncing my views and declaring that George Bush was even worse than the Antichrist.
Protected by the anonymity of the Internet, this individual who goes by the name mairiacb48 at a blog named “The Truth” (but there is no truth there; if you visit this blog you will discover that there is nothing there, no post, no data, no information), wrote:
Satan lies and so does Bush!!
Holiness means being sold out to Christ to do his will not to be a leader without elected power. We lived in fascism since 1954 and socialism and now Bushism or more mixed up fascism with communism but liberty no!
His very critical remarks, which I do not print here in full, represent the kind of criticism George Bush has received both from the left and from the right.
Take another example from a well-meaning Christian who is in ministry (all the grammatical errors in the quote below belong to the original writer):
On the same scale Israel thought that they could exploit the little guy or the underprivileged and still find approval from Yahweh; just as President George Bush has done to the poor of New Orleans and the entire country. Just recently the news reported on the television show ’60 Minutes’, that after Sadaam Hussein was captured the United States seized all of his liquid assets. This included buildings filled to the rafters with cash, American hundred dollar bills. They showed men with wheel barrels carting off billions of dollars. They also showed how a make-shift security agency was put together and with no security experience was contracted to be responsible for the security of air port in Iraq. This shady group was able to siphon out over 50 million dollars before the Federal Government claimed that they understood what was going on. This along with other shady schemes led to the truth that the United States had no reason to go to war. The argument that George Bush put before the people was that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which we know now was a lie. What Saddam had that George Bush wanted were those buildings filled with money, he was never looking for a bomb. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, instead of George Bush paying for the rebuilding of that city with the money that he looted from Saddam Hussein, Americans came out of their pockets sending millions to the Red Cross and other agencies; now only to find out that the ones who really needed the help never got it.
The President of the United States has been called a liar, a criminal, a terrorist, a warmonger, a thief, and a few other epithets by Senators, Congressmen, relatives of 9/11 victims, mothers and fathers who have lost children in Iraq, by common people, by bloggers, and even by the media. Some of the most ferocious critics of the President write for The New York Times.
Why has George Bush become such a controversial President? Why has he generated so much criticism, both from the left and from the right?
One thing that makes George Bush a lighting rod for criticism is that he is a devout evangelical Christian who takes his faith and his commitment to God’s Word seriously, notwithstanding what people say about his faith. It is true that politicians can present a religious facade to the public and not live by the religious principles they espouse.
For instance, a few years ago a member of Congress listed his religion as “Protestant.” Anyone conversant with religious life will know that the member of Congress in question was not a very religious person.
Another example: recently we had a President who went to church regularly, carrying a Bible to church but who was also caught almost having sex with an intern. Almost, because he did not believe that oral sex was sex. And another example is that of the prominent African-American religious leader who had a child outside of wedlock and who continues to be called the moral voice of America.
These people were never criticized because they were religious and were seldom reprimanded for their actions. But George Bush is criticized every day, everywhere because he seeks to apply moral values to his life and to his presidency.
People may disagree with the war in Iraq. I was against the invasion of Iraq, but this does not mean that the President lied to the American people. Both Bush and Prime Minister Blair believed the intelligence report that was given to them. Even the members of Congress and the diplomats at the United Nations believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD.
In light of the events of 9/11, Saddam Hussein’s unwillingness to allow United Nations inspectors into Iraq, and the duplicity of France, Russia, China, and the United Nations in the oil-for-food program, there was no other alternative but to invade Iraq.
Bush did not go to Iraq to steal Iraqi oil. Bush is not a terrorist because he fights terrorists in Iraq. Bush is not a criminal because the army killed al-Zarqawi. Bush is not a killer because he failed to prevent Terri Schiavo’s death. And Bush is not Satan or the Antichrist either.
It is tough being a practicing Christian and being a politician. How can a believing Christian bring his or her faith to the market place and to the political arena? In the political arena people criticize your faith even before they criticize your political views because your faith affects the way you do your politics.
Most of the people who criticize George Bush do not understand his faith. These people do not really understand what it means to apply biblical principles to one’s life because they themselves do not live by these principles. Many of the President’s detractors are not believing Christians and many do not live by biblical principles and many even do not believe in God.
Should Christians be involved in politics? By all means! Our nation is facing a dearth of voices that can speak on moral issues from a Christian perspective. There are social issues and moral issues and the two are not always the same. Some people feign ignorance of what a moral issue is. This is one of the reasons our nation is abandoning some of the basic moral and ethical principles that have guided our country for the past two centuries.
In the Old Testament, the moral and religious values of the Canaanites infiltrated Israelite society and destroyed its uniqueness as a nation. George Mendenhall called this process “The Paganization of Israel.” The paganization of Israel brought divine judgment upon the nation.
The paganization of America is already destroying the moorings that made this nation great. If the Lord is the “King of the Nations” (Jeremiah 10:7 NEB), then, even America will come under his divine rod because “for crime after crime” of America, the Lord “will grant no reprieve” (Amos 1:6).
If the “King of the Nations” did not grant a reprieve to Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon, nations outside of Israel and Judah, nations whose God was not Yahweh, how can our nation be spared of divine visitation?
Christians must be involved in the political process and act as the conscience of our nation. Like the prophet Jeremiah, Christians must go up and down through the streets of America and search through its public squares to see if they can find persons who deal honestly and try to be truthful. If they can, then the Lord will not punish this nation (cf. Jeremiah 5:1).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary.