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American Taliban: Your faith or mine?

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
July 1, 2004


A sermon is a sorry sauce when you have nothing to eat with it. — Oscar Wilde

As the 2004 Presidential election develops it is becoming profoundly obvious that proclaimed faith is replacing perceived competency as the litmus test of electability. From the moment George W. mentioned the J word during the first 2000 presidential debate I knew the United States had taken a decidedly ominous turn towards faith based governance.

Introduced to religion through a southern Baptist filter, I am aware of the dogma associated with evangelism, and its ‘burn in hell" approach to spiritual diplomacy. I also understand how fundamentally intolerant some manifestations of Christianity can be. The history of the Americas begins with Spanish explorers butchering inhabitants of the new world who would not kneel before the cross. Christian persecution of "heathen" native cultures of North America continues into the 21st century.

As a nonchristian, having a devout Christian say to a nonchristian world "you're either with us or against us," is unsettling to say the least. To hear the President of the United States of America, arguably the most powerful man in the world, say it, is earth shaking.

Like millions of other Americans my idea of leadership does not include a biblically induced apocalypse.

I know I am not the only person tired of all the religiosity being peddled by the Bush reelection campaign. Wearing ones faith on their sleeve does not a world leader make. Nor do empty words of moral convection. The first time George W. ran for President he did so as a compassionate conservative. Those were his words. His actions over the past 4 years tell a different story.

When told, the story of George W. Bush will be about how religious postering was used to mitigate the reality of an empirical war over natural resources abroad and the dismantling of civil liberties at home. As a conservative, George VI has failed measurably. Not only has the federal government grown under the watch of the Bush II Administration, the national debt has ballooned to encompass several generations. As for as compassion, I wonder if Jesus, George W's personal hero, would consider the dropping of bombs on the Iraqi people an act of compassion. Regardless of his words, death and destruction have been the result of George W's actions.

As predicted the only thing George has to offer the American people is his hollow religiosity. Knowing this the Bush campaign has enlisted thousand of religious congregations to distribute campaign information at places of worship, in clear violation of their tax-exempt status, and thereby further diminishing the separation of church and state. In order to get around that obstacle, Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a measure to make it easier for religious groups to engage in the electoral process.

Talk about jihad.

Separation of church and state, as envisioned by the founding fathers, make ideas such as E Pluribus Unum possible. "One from many" could easily mean, from many faiths one belief in shared community. The United States of America is about shared community, not shared faith. Never has been.

What I am looking for in a President is a person who is strong enough in his or her faith to the point of no longer needing to convert those whose beliefs are different. What I am looking for in a president is an individual who doesn't use the teachings of Jesus to justify the use of cluster bombs, and homoerotic torture scenarios. What I am looking for in a president is a person who distinguishes between right and wrong, not good and evil. What I'm looking for in a President is a leader who understands the benefit of foresight, restraint, historical perspective, and ecological realities.

What I am looking for in a President is a person who respects the diversity that is modern America, a person who understands Wiccan children play on the same playgrounds as Atheist, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and Methodist children. What I'm looking for is a President who actually believes that everyone deserves to live free of religious persecution, gays and lesbians included.

I'm looking for a leader who advocates peace and leads by example, a leader who sees paradise in a standing redwood forest, open tundra, and a clear mountain stream. I'm looking for a leader who values all life on the planet, not just those who share his faith.

George W. Bush is not that leader.


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