Christ for President[1]
By A.D. Freudenheim  

2 May 2004

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the President of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Although PBS aired a program the other night on President George W. Bush’s devotion to Jesus the other night, I am not sure I needed to see it. Mr. Bush’s “faith” has been evident, obvious, and off-putting since he first showed up on the political scene in Texas, and has only grown since becoming President. In slips like calling his campaign in the Middle East a “crusade,” making references to political or national enemies as “evildoers,” creating a program for “faith-based initiatives,” naming Jesus as his “favorite philosopher,” Mr. Bush seeks to remind people of the Christianity he takes so seriously, while reflecting out to the world his simplistic, black-and-white views.

This approach to life is shameful, and should be an embarrassment to Americans and Christians alike. Although it often gets a bad rap among left-wing secularists, Christianity is not inherently inclined to a black-and-white view of the world any more so than other religions. Jesus, after all, took a view that acknowledged the compromised position of humanity: none of us is perfect or free from error.[2] How, then, to explain a man like Mr. Bush, who seems more sure of his own rightness and righteousness than even Jesus himself? Even his attitude towards his presidential responsibility with respect to the 11 September 2001 attacks on our nation, and his absolute lack of humility in dealing with the “9/11 Commission” are completely out of sync with these two important Christian concepts.

Even more egregiously are Bush’s evident and unacknowledged sins: he has either lied or committed the equally serious sin of omission. The President of the United States has lied about knowing about the potential threat to America by a terrorist like Osama bin Laden, the outline of which was stated clearly in one of his Daily Briefing papers. Bush lied about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which he was so certain we would find, though more than one year later they remain undiscovered. His handling, and that of Vice President Cheney, of many components of the Executive aspects of the Presidency – such as refusing to release the names of the people who participated in the Energy Task Force, or arguing that the President should have the right to deem U.S. citizens “enemy combatants” and therefore control their fates outside of our existing legal system – have been predicated on some notion of executive superiority, one which is not only absurd under any reading of the U.S. Constitution but is also hard to justify within the Christian vision the President often suggests he holds for our nation. Again, looking to Jesus himself as a model, Mr. Bush seems a poor and pathetic follower indeed.

But who am I to judge.


I ask Christian America: does it matter to you, as Christians, if Mr. Bush lied in order to achieve some bigger goal? Is that Christian behavior – or merely political? Does Christianity make an exception for “white lies,” or for lies that are politically expedient?

Those of us opposed to Mr. Bush (secular or not, left wing or not) might have an easier time if he – or at least, his avowedly Christian followers – admitted the hypocrisy inherent in this administration, and if this was done publicly and with feeling. Just say it: we don’t care that he lied as long as he stays president, because it means better things for us. That was, after all, one of the primary complaints about how lefties treated President Clinton when evidence of his indiscretions became public; even avowed feminists defended his dalliance with an intern half his age, much to the dismay of many Americans, for obviously political rather than moral reasons.

With not-so-subtle references to this history, conservative Christian America likes to talk about how the Bush administration is more “moral” than the last administration. This was a centerpiece of the Bush campaign, and he wants us, the American people, to trust him to achieve the right goals on our behalf. Trust is difficult to come by, that’s for sure.  Such trust is even more difficult when the price of it is accepting a pile of lies, deceptions, and ego-driven abuses of power – and having to swallow them with no acknowledgment that (to put this in Christian terms) the moneylenders may have taken over the Temple again, and Christian America has decided it does not care because they are getting the money this time around.

[1] With apologies to Woody Guthrie, for borrowing one of his song titles.
[2] As in, for example, Jesus' oft-quoted line “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” from The Gospel According to St. John, 8:7; The Holy Bible: King James Version. 2000
  Copyright 2004, by A.D. Freudenheim. May not be used in whole or part without written permission. However, you may link to this page as desired! Contact A. D. Freudenheim for further information.
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