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The Sins of the Bush Administration
March 17, 2004
By Tab Julius

George W. Bush's administration has done much to legally blur the separation of Church and State - more than any administration in recent history. George Bush himself makes frequent personal references to God and implies that he is serving God in a fight of Good vs. Evil. He goes so far as to hold prayer sessions at the White House with staffers before meetings.

Our government, once secular, is clearly becoming more religious. Is this a good thing? Well, many would argue not. There are those, of course, who would argue that it is a good thing, but invariably if and only if it corresponds to their religion. Jews aren't going to argue that a Christian government is a good thing, any more than Christians would prefer a Buddhist government.

Since Bush fancies himself a Christian, and is taking stances on many subjects that match those of his pro-Christian conservative base (e.g.: anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-stem cell research), we can conclude that if our current government is becoming more religious, then the religion it is embracing is Christianity.

If so, we are now within our rights to ask the question: Has our Government sinned?

Yes, that was the question. Is our government, and its administration, being a good Christian?

Bush supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Presumably he'd support one against abortion as well, but since he hasn't said so, let's work with gay marriage. Personally I don't care what other people do, but apparently this issue so concerns the adminstration that it would feel justified asking Congress to introduce a consitutional amendment. Not to focus on the economy and jobs, not to advance international relations, nor combat terrorism. Gay marriage is apparently one of the major problems facing this country, according to this administration.

As such, we must assume that Gay Marriage Is Bad. Terrible. The worst thing we have to deal with. And yet, it's not one of the seven deadly sins. Therefore it must be a lesser sin. We also have the ten commandments. "Men should not Know their fellow men" is not in there. Thus it must not be as bad as breaking one of the ten commandments either.

Therefore, for this to be an issue of such import that the administration must focus the considerable resources at its disposal to resolve it, we must assume that worse problems have already been dealt with. It must be the case that the Bush administration is so free of sin that we're already done with the seven deadly sins and the ten commandments, and we have nothing left to go after except gay marriage.

That would be nice. Unfortunately that's not the case.

Let's start with the ten commandments. Actually there are variations on the wording of the commandments, the wording varies based on the interpretation; the King James Bible has one set of wordings, the Catholics have another, the Hebrew interpretation is yet one more. For now, though, let's go with the Catholic list, since the wording is short and basic.

1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.
4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

The first three are basic housekeeping, the fourth is a recipe for good family relations, but commandments five through ten, the "Thou shalt nots" are pretty specific. How does the Bush administration stack up here?

Thou shalt not kill.

Sometimes killing is a necessity, granted, but at a minimum one can assume that one should at least not take pleasure in killing, or kill needlessly. As Governor of Texas, Bush presided over executions at an extraordinary rate - one every two weeks. In the run-up to the 2000 elections, Bush proudly stated that in Texas "we put 'em to death". When asked about a woman he had just decided to put to death, who had asked for clemency on the grounds she had become a born-again Christian, Bush mocked her. "Please," he whimpered in mock desperation, "don't kill me".

But it doesn't end there. The Iraq war has taken hundreds of military lives, and that's just the U.S. military. Add in civilians, and then add in Iraqi soldiers, and you have a significant death toll well into the thousands. If the war was entered into on the basis of fabricated evidence, as most now believe, then you again have a blatant disregard for human life.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

The government per se cannot commit adultery, only individuals can. Unlike those who impeached Clinton, I don't believe that the personal sexual relationships of our leaders are any of our business (unless it shows a blatant hypocrisy in their values, in which case it would then be our business). As such, this commandment cannot apply.

Thou shalt not steal.

Halliburton. Oil. Votes. There is a long list in this category. Just those three are enough for now.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Neighbors as in both neighboring countries, and also as in local neighbors (fellow Americans). Certainly in bearing false witness against neighboring countries, we've just had two years of exposure to lies and false claims regarding Iraq. We've also had suppression of the truth here at home, in many forms, from preventing Medicare cost info from getting out, to blocking the 9/11 commission, to falsely linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11, and more. The lies to our citizens and the lies made about other countries is becoming a very long list indeed.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.

We can lump this in with adultery for the purposes of this discussion. An administration cannot covet a wife, so this commandment does not apply.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

Well, well. Let's start with oil in Iraq, shall we? The United States doth hath been doing much coveting. And pipelines in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, and other resources throughout the world.

I think a pretty good argument can be made that the administration has failed on at least four of the ten commandments. Given that the other six are pretty hard for an administration to violate (adultery, neighbor's wife, honor parents, and the three housekeeping ones), it's clear that the administration has violated any of those that it COULD violate.

No administration is perfect. But if one prides itself on its religious ties, then it should be called to task for any hypocrisy it exhibits. Hence the list.

But we're not done - we still have the seven deadly sins to look at. As a reminder, they are:

1. Pride 2. Avarice/Greed
3. Envy
4. Wrath/Anger
5. Lust
6. Gluttony
7. Sloth

Pride

This is not pride as in bring proud of your children, or of being proud of your country. This is pride, vanity, and ego, as in the opposite of humility. The U.S. swaggers. This administration tells other countries to be with us or against us, without respect for what they think. This administration has little respect for their opinions, and doesn't even consider that maybe the rest of the world is right and this administration is wrong. That is pride and vanity and ego at its worst.

Avarice/Greed

Not just money and things, it is also the opposite of generosity. To be generous is to be giving, not just materially, but in things like being gracious and sharing the spotlight. This adminstration has sought to claim credit for No Child Left Behind, which it initially opposed, but also the 9/11 commission, which it initially opposed, and the department of Homeland Security, which it initially opposed, and also for initiating motions which it later gutted or didn't fund (like the billions for New York). I would also put failure to take responsibility for actions in this category too. And if you want to just go with the straight materialistic interpretation of greed... oh, don't get me started.

Envy

As opposed to love, and a close relative of Avarice/Greed, this is an administration that cannot attribute good to anyone not in their camp. No inherent good of the Democrats, nothing Clinton did was good, the administration spoke ill of France and Germany and saw no good in what they were trying to do. Many failures on the envy score are covered in the 'coveting' section of the ten commandments. There is envy for absolute power - of office, of intelligence. The Patriot Act is a coveting of freedoms. The administration cannot accept that others might choose differently for themselves, whether it might be speech, abortion, choice of religion, and it envies and covets those freedoms only for itself.

Wrath/Anger

As opposed to kindness, a jump to anger is the opposite of diplomacy. One can get more flies with honey than with vinegar, but this administration has been quick to anger and seek retribution. Press corp members asking a delicate question risk being cut off from future access. Countries not "with us" are penalized - we were quick to demand that everyone follow us into Iraq and when the rest of the world demurred we sought penalties against France and others. The Bush administration is angry whenever anyone questions their motives. They feel they owe no explanation to anybody.

Lust

As opposed to self-control, this administration's lust (similar to coveting) is powerful. Lust after power itself, refusal to answer questions, but also lack of self-control as shown in impatience to go after Iraq, and angry responses when questioned. Lust after oil, control of Congress, lust after its own agenda, forgetting that it represents all Americans and that it must represent everyone's interests, not just their tight conservative base. And need I mention lust after the office of the President after 2004? Much of what this administation has done has been driven by lust to stay in power, what is politically fruitful to the Bush camp, not necessarily what would make good policy for America.

Gluttony

As opposed to temperance, this administration has been unabashedly going after what it wants, and what it wants it wants in incredible quantities, without regard to the long term effects. Huge tax cuts, more than are fiscally prudent for the country. An oil base in the mideast, without regard for our military position or ability to maintain and secure it (or the cost to get it). As much faith integration into government as possible, without regards to others, or the constitutional separation. An effort to force the whole country to their positions, be it abortion, prayer, or even, yes, gay marriage.

Sloth

As opposed to Zeal. The administration has a lot of zeal for their own agenda, but for the needs of the country there's a lot of sloth happening. Bush set a record for vacation time prior to 9/11, on 9/11 itself he exhibited an incredible amount of sloth - people like Rudy Giuliani were the real ones on site. Bush didn't leap into action - he sat in a classroom for 20 minutes after the second plane, and then got on a plane and didn't show his face for a long time. There's been a lot of focus on fund raising for elections, but little on issues that confront America. And the number of military funerals attended by Bush? Zero. Were that his zeal for fundraising and Iraq applied to actually running the country and getting Americans back to work and respecting the people he serves.

So, has this administration sinned? Let's see... it has broken all of the commandments that an administration can break (excluding the six that don't apply to an administration) and violated each of the seven deadly sins. Obviously there's some work to be done on the most basic issues before it goes after minor things like gay marriage or stem cells.

Perhaps before the administration speaks so rightously about how others should behave, it should take a good look, as its god might do, on how it behaves. If it truly looked at its worshipped commandments and prohibitions, it might find, as we all do, that there's a sinner in all of us. In some ways, this administration is the biggest sinner of all.

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