Published in Capitalism Magazine
[January 18, 2004]
Bush's Faith Immoral, but he's Better than his Christian Critics
By Wayne Dunn
The author of a recent letter appearing in The Tennessean writes that the president's religious faith conflicts with his decision to go to war. Many of Bush's Christian critics share this opinion.
And in one sense they're right. There is indeed a disparity between Bush's bombing and Christ's Beatitudes. To which I can only exclaim, "Thank Goodness!"
Thank goodness Bush isn't turning the other cheek to terrorists. Thank goodness he's showered our enemies (some, at least) with bullets instead of love. Thank goodness he disobeyed Jesus' command to "bless them that curse you." (Or maybe he thinks the scripture reads, "Blast them that curse you.")
Sure, no one admires hypocrisy. But if the philosophy you follow is irrational to begin with, backsliding is almost a virtue.
And what could be more irrational than a moral code that would have you reward evil with kindness, as Christianity would? For how else could you characterize, "Pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you"? How else could you interpret "do good to them that hate you"?
That's what Bush's Christian detractors want for our foreign policy?
That's what their faith demands?
If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, faith is the sole refuge of a mystic.
One who can prove one's beliefs appeals to facts and to other people's intelligence and rationality. One whose beliefs can't be proven, by contrast, must appeal to something other than facts and thus is threatened by other people's intelligence and rationality. And that's where faith rears its head.
To the topic at hand, what logical basis is there for claiming that ethics entails loving one's enemies? What rational reason is there for saying that morality requires presenting one's cheek for an encore smacking? There is no rational reason and none's ever been given, only a faith-based "reason."
Christians talk about morality. Well, morality begins with recognizing truth. Truth is the product, not of mystical forays into fantasy, but of natural facts of reality. And facts can be discerned only by using one's mind, one's faculty of reason. Reason, then, is the onramp to genuine morality.
Sermon on the Mount notwithstanding, self-defense is moral because it's a logical extension of the rationally provable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon which America was founded (despite our Founders wrongly attributing those rights to a Creator's endowment).
It would be an abomination to sacrifice the self-defense of the greatest nation in history, as many Christians would like, for the sake of faith in what some alleged prophet may have prattled 20 centuries ago on a dusty Middle Eastern knoll.
In fact, Bush's Christianity has already undercut America's ability to properly combat terrorists and the states that support them. So eaten up with faith is Bush that he can't even name the enemy: militant Islam. To do so would mean identifying and coming to terms with what drives them: faith. And that would just hit too close to home for Bush.
Consider how we'd fare if we consistently applied Jesus' abysmal turn-the-other-check, love-thy-enemy doctrine in the face of those who believe their religion demands killing "infidels." It wouldn't be pretty.
Given Bush's faith, his inconsistency is our saving grace.
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© COPYRIGHT 2004 by Wayne Dunn