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The Gospel According to George W.
January 20, 2004
By Bill King

Now hear this! There is no reason to vote in the presidential election this November. The race has already been decided. The Reverend Pat Robertson has heard from God Himself, and God told Pat that George W. Bush will win in a landside. Apparently Pat hears these "words of knowledge" pretty often, and Pat's faithful flock send his 700 Club millions of their hard earned dollars so that he can maintain his blessed lifestyle and his personal pipeline to the Almighty.

I do not know whether or not God speaks so directly to some people. Perhaps in some cases it is so. If, however, people like Pat Robertson and George W. Bush truly and legitimately hear from, speak for, or directly represent God Almighty, then I fear for the future of America and the Christian faith.

While Pat Robertson preaches his "seed faith" that encourages people to give much that they might receive treasure here on earth as well as in heaven, he continues to get rich at the expense of the gullible. But if Robertson's charlatan appeals might sometimes take from the desperately needy, it is true that no one is forcing them to contribute. George W. Bush, on the other hand, tends to use God as an excuse and even sometimes as an accomplice to will his own way in the world, taking us along with him whether we like it or not.

Bush's theology became clear shortly after 9/11. It was then that he began preaching his message of Absolute Good vs. Absolute Evil. In fact he has spoken about evil (someone else's, of course) in over 300 speeches since his inauguration. "This will be a monumental struggle," he said, "of good versus evil, but good will prevail." Any guesses as to who the "good guys" are? This black vs. white, God's people vs. the "axis of evil" notion which divides reality into two distinct and separate sides conforms to the dogma of an ancient religion called Manicheism.

Founded by a fellow named Mani, Manicheism was attractive to those who recognized no gray areas when it came to right and wrong. When Manicheism began in the 200s AD to infect the Christian communities, the church fathers rejected it as heresy. "All men were sinners," said the church fathers, "and all are in need of redemption." Any notion of a particularly righteous people was antithetical to church doctrine. In Christian communities there was "neither male not female, Jew nor Greek." All were equally loved by God and equally susceptible to sin.

George W. Bush sees no gray areas when it comes to good vs. evil. He seems to embody a certain self-righteousness that makes many Americans nervous and many foreigners fear him. So many Christian conservatives have anointed him as "chosen" or as "appointed by God" that he seems to believe it himself. After a September, 2001 speech to Congress, one of his speech writers, Michael Gerson, is quoted as saying, "Mr. President, when I saw you on television tonight, I thought - God wanted you here." According to his other speech writer, David Frum, the President replied, "He wants us all here, Gerson."

This messianic vision stuff makes me nervous too. When Bush, as he so often does, displays his bluster and swaggering arrogance, it appears to me as a caricature of all of those blustering fools and swaggering stooges through the ages who felt too comfortable in their pomp and power and who eventually in their hubris and arrogance brought themselves and their nations down. "I do not need to explain why I say things," Bush told journalist Bob Woodward. "That's the interesting thing about being President. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say things, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

When was the last time you ever heard George W. Bush apologize for anything? When was the last time you saw or heard him express doubt or contrition for anything he has done or ordered since he has been President? Some would say that when a man professes that "Jesus is Lord" he is then counted among the blessed. But doesn't it follow that a man who professes Christ and uses that profession to justify his works should produce works that tend toward humility, truthfulness, and compassion rather than toward deceit, pride, militarism, and revenge?

As Governor of Texas, George W. Bush presided over a record-setting 152 executions. At one point in 2000 there were so many so quickly that Fred Allen, one of the "tie-down" team members who saw the executions first hand, quit his job in disgust. It was one execution in particular, however, that told me much and maybe all that I needed to know about George W. Bush. It was this particular case that made it clear to me that I could never trust this man's character.

Among those 152 executions was a woman named Karla Faye Tucker. Along with an accomplice, Tucker had committed a despicable murder for which she had been sentenced to death. Sometime between her conviction and execution, Karla Faye Tucker had found the Lord. She became a self-professed "born-again Christian" and would later lead a prison ministry.

As her execution date neared, her face and story began to get notice around the country. Pat Robertson himself appealed for a halt to her execution. Indeed, even the Pope joined the dialogue with an appeal for mercy. George W. Bush, the "every life is precious" governor, would have none of it. He was a man sure of his mission and contrary to the appeal of scripture allowed judgment to triumph over mercy. Karla Faye Tucker's appeal for clemency was denied and she was put to death on February 3, 1998.

As disgusted as I personally am with the capital punishment frenzy in America, it was not the execution itself that so dourly colored my view of George W. Bush - it was hearing this anecdote from conservative columnist Tucker Carlson. While riding in a car with then-presidential candidate Bush, Carlson asked about the Karla Faye Tucker case. Bush admitted to watching Larry King's interview with Karla Faye. King asked what she would say to Bush if she had the chance. Carlson asked Bush what her response was. According to Carlson, Bush pursed his lips in mock desperation, squinted his eyes, and in a squeaky voice said, "Please don't kill me."

That told me all I wanted or needed to know about the real character and religious conviction of George W. Bush.


Bill King is a high school teacher in Kingston Springs, TN.

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