Thursday, July 22, 2004

Call me just fed up with attempts to co-opt God. And where does the Republican Party get off pressuring clergy to support Bush or appropriating church directories for political purposes?

God is not a Republican

I am a patriotic American. We are blessed to live in a country with a Constitution designed to protect our civil liberties. I am a Navy "brat" -- my father, about whom I'll write one day, was a career Navy officer, and I'm proud of him.

I used to be a registered Republican. Not anymore. President George W. Bush made me too embarrassed to keep that party affiliation. I went over to the Democrats a little while ago.

One of the things Bush has done that I intensely dislike is to act as if God is on his, and only his, side; as if God is a registered Republican, supporting Bush's actions in Iraq, his approach to relations with other countries, and his domestic agenda. (And whatever else Bush gets it in his head to do.)

This is really nothing new in right-wing politics. Remember the Moral Majority of the 1970s and '80s? Wrapping oneself in the flag is an old tactic. It's designed to smear your opposition as unpatriotic.
And wrapping oneself simultaneously in the flag and in the cloak of godly righteousness is a double whammy, implying the opposition is not only unpatriotic, but also a bunch of unchristian, non-God-fearing sorts (whose rights, by the way, are protected by the Constitution).

God has no political-party affiliation. God is not even an American. He is the one above all names, above all powers, to whom every knee must bow and every tongue confess. Period.

When the Pharisees used a coin bearing Caesar's inscription to try to trick Jesus into a compromising statement regarding the separation of earthly and spiritual powers, he told them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." There's a clear distinction.

Those of us who call ourselves Christian should know that Jesus, if anything, was a socialist. We try to tone down his message to fit within our comfort zone, but he said, in the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, "All nations will be assembled before him and he will separate people one from another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me."

Jesus told Peter to "feed my sheep." No laissez-faire economics or rampant capitalism here, just socialism in the truest sense -- taking care of each other, especially of society's most vulnerable members.

Lots of things that circulate around the Internet find their way to my e-mail in-box. I can't count how many "forwards" with depictions of Stars-and-Stripes-covered crosses I've seen. This makes my stomach turn, and it would give me the same reaction no matter whose side the mail supports. The cross should always come first, above all earthly symbols.

Beware of politicians claiming some special favor or divine mantle from God to do what they're doing. There was only one who could claim this privilege, and he lived on the Earth a couple of thousand years ago.


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