March 04, 2003

Bush and Religion (Continued) The

Bush and Religion (Continued)

The American Scene has a cogent piece debunking Martin Marty's opinion piece in Newsweek that seeks to portray Dubya's foreign policy as motivated, in large part, by his "born-again" tendencies.

As regular readers may recall (scroll to January 27th entry), I have been disturbed by the increasingly prevalent trend (manifest since at least late last year) that attempts to tag this Administration as somehow being in the throes of reactionary religiosity. A prominent voice was lent to such views when EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in an interview with the FT, described U.S. foreign policy as motivated by religion rather than more rational, secular Europe. All this talk struck me as another pestilent outbreak of moral relativism. The U.S. was struck on 9/11 by a group driven by theologically barbaric precepts, but lo and behold, the evangelicals from the prairies of Crawford are just as bad! Too Derrida-esque for me; and flatly offensive to boot.

Marty writes: "In the future, when Bush speaks about God and this country, as he assuredly will, one hopes he will heed the example of Abraham Lincoln. In other desperate times Lincoln had to seek Almighty guidance for what he called this ” almost chosen people.” That president accompanied his seeking with a theological affirmation too rarely heard now: “The Almighty has His own purposes.” These purposes may not always match our own, even if we are called to highest office. Awareness of this might bring the nation and its political and religious leaders alike under judgment as we pursue, by our best lights, responsible action."

Yet read the last lines of Dubya's State of the Union: "Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity. We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know -- we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history." [my emphasis]

This is a rather typical Dubya rendition of God's role vis-a-vis expansion of freedom in the world. It hardly strikes me as equating a special, providential diety that works its divine will solely on behalf of goals of the U.S.A. Or is Marty arguing that God does not believe that "freedom is the right of every person"?

Posted by Gregory at March 4, 2003 11:34 AM
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