So, how did it come about that the Christian right leaders turned to George W. Bush as their knight in shining armor, as a future president who would turn the country around to become the fundamentalist earthly paradise they dreamed of? They wanted the country to turn its back on the great libertarian principles it was founded upon. They would codify much of the fundamentalist creed, particularly personal morality, into the civil law, spread this creed all over the world by way of imperialism, and inject a large dose of mercantilist economics. They are still fooling a large percentage of the American people into believing that this is what the Founders had in mind. Of course we have seen differently. A strict separation of church and state, an isolationist foreign policy and free market economics was what those Founders really had in mind.
George W. Bush, the young Republican governor of Texas in the 1990s and son of President George H.W. Bush, was at least a third-generation, thoroughgoing member of the establishment. His grandfather Prescott was a man of Big Business, deeply embedded with government interests, and hobnobbed with Adolf Hitler. His father, who was the president who attacked Iraq the first time over oil and political power (and also, I believe, to turn public attention away from his son Neil's legal problems), was a man of the big oil business, and was freedom-enemy Richard Nixon's big supporter.
Not only that, both George W. and his father were "Skull and Bones" members, which I have finally come to believe is of great significance. Bonesmen should be regarded as the arch-enemies of freedom-lovers, not qualified to serve as the assistant night janitor of a small town hall, much less as president of the United States (1).
So, why was George W. the Christian right's knight in shining armor? This could almost be answered in two words: Karl Rove.
We already know quite a bit, but to recap: Rove seems to be the master of dirty tricks (2). According to Madsen in Counterpunch, Rove cut his teeth doing dirty tricks for the 1972 campaign of freedom-enemy Nixon. He continued this sort of "work" until he became George W. Bush's "Svengali" in the 1990s as he worked for the Bush gubernatorial campaign in Texas, and later when he engineered a smear campaign against Bush's rivals for the GOP nomination, as he gathered up supporters for Bush. Later, of course, he was chief strategist for the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign. Actually, Rove did not have to do a whole lot to court religious right leaders; they came knocking. We have been over this, but it is worth repeating.
The David Kuo book, reviewed above, was also reviewed by Pastor Chuck Baldwin, a Christian minister who is not being fooled (3). Baldwin wonders if Karl Rove and George W. Bush duped the religious right leaders who, in turn, were duping their followers. The dupers had first become the dupees in other words. David Kuo "believes that GOP strategists successfully convinced Christian leaders that 'Jesus came primarily for a political agenda ....' "
This goes a long ways in explaining why the office of faith-based programs was treated the way it was. It also explains a lot of other things.
There is a claim to "absolute truth" on the part of every religion, or at least every major religion, and they have sacred texts and gifted leaders who interpret these texts. Knowing this fact is a start in finding out how religions become corrupt.
As a Christian I believe what the Bible says. You are probably asking if I believe the Bible is "inerrant." Well, yes and no. I believe it was inspired by God, specially so (meaning in a special way as opposed to your or my getting a really good idea). But what we have today is translations, and translations of translations and errors can occur in these translations. Our job is to research the original texts. This is being done and modern technology is making them more accurate.
It is incumbent upon the individual to read scripture for him- or herself and use the perfectly good brain God gave him or her. Reason and faith are not only not mutually exclusive, they complement one another. Rather than interpreting scripture literally or figuratively, I try to interpret it intelligently.
This does not mean one should not seek help from others who know more. However, one must not relegate responsibility for one's belief system to so-called "authorities."
The thing is, these "authorities" may have something in mind other than sharing their knowledge with you, such as political power. Author Charles Kimball (4) seems to think that one sign of that is when this leader claims to have knowledge, and that he who disagrees is wrong. Anyone who is not with us is against us! Does that sound familiar?
The big problem among conservative Christians (and Muslims too) (5), is that those who were raised in the faith were not taught to reflect and question. They were taught to accept what their "authority figures" taught them. These "authorities," even though they may really be authorities on their subject matter, are fallible human beings like the rest of us, and therefore unable to be totally objective.
I don't pretend to be objective. Everything I say and do has a libertarian slant to it. If I sneeze it is a libertarian sneeze. It is because I am a libertarian through and through and through. If President Bush sneezes, I will find something wrong with that sneeze, because I oppose him to the extent that I am a libertarian. That is, completely. Now, how objective is that? Not very, but at least I will admit it which is more than you can say for many of these "authorities."
So, since none of these "authorities" are totally objective, and since nobody on this earth knows everything, why do people rely totally on authorities rather than their own ability to think? (Again, here I am talking about authorities who know, or pose as knowing, a great deal about their subjects and, if real, deserve respect for that, as opposed to civil authorities.) Why don't people listen and learn from knowledgeable authorities, and then, taking new ideas learned into consideration, take responsibility for their own conclusions? For at the end of the day, you decide what you believe and what you do. God gave us each a perfectly good brain and a free will (6).
As we have seen, too many Christians (and others) have confused the authority of someone who knows more and is an authority on a subject, with the "authority" of someone who they think has the God-given right to tell them what to think and what to do. And this, I think, is key to why the evil people in the Bush administration and the evil people who plotted to bring it about have gotten away with destroying our freedom and our country, damaging the church in the process. It is blind obedience. That is all right for tiny children who have no capacity to judge, but they must turn into big children and begin to understand the likes of First Corinthians 13:9-12 and then turn into adults. Children, about the time they enter school, need to start asking questions and figuring things out on their own, and it is the job of parents to guide and encourage this. Children, if taught the difference between right and wrong (and why) when they are very small, can apply this and as they grow they can question all the wrong they see. As big children and then teens and adults they know it when they see or hear a self-proclaimed "authority" doing wrong, and they have the moral backbone to question it and stand up to it. However, today's Christians will not do that.
When Jerry Falwell and other fundamentalist leaders started telling people in the churches to get politically involved, that should have sent up a red flag in the minds of Christians. We have seen what an about-face that was. But there were not that many questions asked. People went ahead and did what he said. A lot of times, as Kimball points out, these leaders will pick and choose scriptural passages that serve the leaders' purpose and ignore those that do not. Followers who do not think independently are unlikely to dig deeper and ask questions, and the leaders are banking on that.
One way they get people to stop thinking and start obeying is to convince them that something terrible is going to happen if they do not obey, or that the end of the world as we know it is near. The Christian fundamentalists believe that the end is near, whereas the Bible really says we have no clue as to when the end will come (7). Like the collapse of our economy, we know that Bush's fiscal and monetary policies will bring the collapse, but we do not know when it will occur. Back in the 1960s, as a very young and green libertarian, I expected an economic collapse any day due to President Johnson's crazy drunken-sailor spending on the illegal and immoral war in Vietnam and his dream-like "Great Society" programs. Now, Bush is doing the very same thing but, I realize, even as the economy is teetering, it could be weeks or months, even years, before the floor falls through. But it will. It pays to be prepared and have an emergency plan of action, but to also plan your life as though it will not happen soon. Right now, as I write this, some libertarian pundits set a date that an attack on Iran would occur, and a collapse would result. That date came and went. So I do not hold my breath any more.
It is the same with the "end times." It will happen, but will it be in our lifetime? We flat out do not know, and we must not allow these "authorities" to sway us.
There is so much fallout from the failure of individuals to think. Of course, this blog essay points out the destruction of our country and the damage to the church. There are some more specific bad results. One is, people tend to believe what they see on the mainstream media, which is actually a government propaganda tool. The answer to every problem seems to be more government power rather than more individual initiative. Because so many problems are caused by over-reliance on government (or on others), this means a downward spiral into totalitarianism.
To restore liberty and save the country, and revitalize the church and other institutions, it is incumbent on individuals to take the initiative, question authority, and take charge of their lives.
(1) Hatfield, J.H.: Fortunate Son, Soft Skull Press, New York, 2001. Originally written in 1999, this book was destroyed (not censored, but nearly so) by the Bush camp (see P. ix-x) for fear it would ruin Bush's chances of election. Hatfield died under mysterious circumstances.
(2) http://www.counterpunch.org/madsen1101.html Madsen, Wayne: "Exposing Karl Rove," November 1, 2002. See also Hatfield P. xxiv and xxv.
(3) http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2006/cbarchive_20061017.html Baldwin, Chuck: "Were Evangelicals Played for Suckers?" October 17, 2006.
(4) Kimball, Charles: When Religion Becomes Evil, HarperCollins and Harper, San Francisco, 2002.
(5) Ibid. P. 59.
(6) Ibid. P. 68-69.
(7) First Thessalonians 5:2, "Like a thief in the night." See also Matthew 24:44.