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GOP Faces ‘Civil War’ over Bush’s Faith-Based Rule

Here is the New York Times article that ran over the weekend which everyone is talking about. All hell is breaking loose in the Republican party as the Bush administration gets more and more bold about its religiosity and righteousness.

‘When I was first with Bush in Austin, what I saw was a self-help Methodist, very open, seeking,” Wallis says now. ”What I started to see at this point was the man that would emerge over the next year — a messianic American Calvinist. He doesn’t want to hear from anyone who doubts him.”

But with a country crying out for intrepid leadership, does a president have time to entertain doubters? In a speech in Alaska two weeks later, Bush again referred to the war on terror as a ”crusade.”

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn’t like about Bush’s former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ”in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who ”believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Who besides guys like me are part of the reality-based community? Many of the other elected officials in Washington, it would seem. A group of Democratic and Republican members of Congress were called in to discuss Iraq sometime before the October 2002 vote authorizing Bush to move forward. A Republican senator recently told Time Magazine that the president walked in and said: ”Look, I want your vote. I’m not going to debate it with you.” When one of the senators began to ask a question, Bush snapped, ”Look, I’m not going to debate it with you.”

Now THIS is beginning to sound like Hitler’s Germany, sorry to say. If I wanted Pat Robertson for President, I would have voted for Pat Robertson.



  1. Godwin’s Law…already? Heh. 😉

    All hell breaking loose? Maybe in the World Council of Churches sectors and in some of the more social-justice Methodist corners, but about it. This so-called Civil War, is an illusion of the Left, a common tactic, as you can’t take on the bedrock of American religion without losing elections bigtime, so rather than go direct, you manufacture “civil wars” in the other camp; time-honored political hack technique, done from both sides. Bush has the Evangelical camp in his back pocket, “civil war” or not. And now, even Kerry looks at the polls, and ruins his base, in making a God pitch. The third debate was sort Eddie Haskelistic, grand poofy-hair ultra-rich intellectual, suddenly making a strong right turn, and playing the God card, when nary a mention before, it just looked so insincere.

    And far from being Hilteristic or Communistic (banning of religion), Bush is well-in keeping with American History, even somewhat Jefferson (and other Deists, Unitarians), as the 1820’s back and forth letters between Adams and Jefferson on religious topics are quite at odds, but yet never really lean Secular, God is always a key to good government, “endowned by their creator
    with certain inalienable rights”. And decrying American Calvinism? That’s the Foundation of this Republic, like it or not. Two strongly Calvinistic documents, “The Vindication Against Tyrants” (1579) and “The Dutch Declaration of Independence” (1581) served as a model for the US Declaration of Independence. The key relgious issue at that time was not God himself or “religion in politics”, but rather in not establishing a State Church, such as England had done. Modern days views, have gone revisionist and taken a grand leap, in meaning that any religious manifestation, is somehow a violation of “Separation of Church and State”, a priciple itself which is nowhere to be found the Constitution, rather in Jefferson’s Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut letter, a nice idea, but hardly policy.

    Been a number of “faith-based” thrusts down throughout American History, Bush is hardly unique. But this would present Bush with a grand problem however, if State money is invovled, as it means you would need to “determine” which “religions” are real, faith-based Scientologists? Egads! Faith-based fraught with problems and hidden gotchas. Freedom to worship, means just that, but also a grand opening for scam artists and flim-flammers, but if you start determining which one is acceptable, then that’s giving the State a role that the Founders most wanted to avoid. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” – John Adams

    “He who will not honor the memory and respect the influence of Calvin knows but little of the origin of American liberty.” – George Bancroft

  2. It is one thing to rant about W’s faith and quite another to uncritically assail charitable choice and various faith- and community based initiatives that have been supported by both parties and presidents and recent presidential contestants going back to 1996. See analysis by Stephen Lazurus of the Center for Public Justice at http://www.cpjustice.org/stories/storyReader$1214

  3. T.C. Moore says:

    John, you are co-mingling Bush’s faith with his authoritarian management style. The “discernable reality” quote has nothing to do with faith, but with neo-conservatives’ arrogance. Too many smart bombs and toys made the hawks think beyond the confines of geo-political reality.

    ‘’Look, I want your vote. I’m not going to debate it with you.’’ does not a fascist make. He’s just incapable of outlining a rational argument, so he’s not going to try. If he’d killed or jailed the legislators concerned, that would be something to worry about.
    This quote is an example of “party discipline” or “whipping”.

    I also agree with the previous comments about the 1st amendment and faith-based initiatives. The Supreme Court has gone way to far in banning religion from civic life, when all the founding fathers wanted to avoid was an “official” religion. Meanwhile, if a church has some program that’s 70% effective in getting you off drugs, but you have to become a Christian for it to work, why shouldn’t a convicted drug user have the choice of taking that program. Especially when many of these programs work far better than secular ones. What’s worse, being addicted to drugs, or being a Christian?

  4. Thomas says:

    While it is true that all Presidents have been religious since Jefferson, Jefferson, Adams and Washington were closet deists and Paine, a significant influence on Jefferson, became a bold faced agnostic. Jefferson believed in a very distinct separation of church and state. He felt that showing favoritism towards any sect or religion was a slippery slope much like defining which sort of speech should be free.

    I always find it amusing when people claim that the concept of the “Separation of Church and State” is not in the Constitution. It is. That is *one of the things* that “freedom of religion” is supposed to be about. The apparent problem is that it is not clear enough to people that most of the original framers wanted a secular government. The Supreme Court has consistently ruled that “establishment of religion” is to be interpreted to mean “establishment of [government sponsored] religion” and therefore government cannot show favoritism towards any particular religion.

    >What’s worse, being addicted to drugs, or being a Christian?

    Firstly, we can play that game all day. What’s worse: losing all your money or being addicted to drugs? What’s worse: brainwashing or being addicted to drugs?

    To further analyze the point, how many people have died in the name of Christianity, killed in the name of Christianity, or oppressed others in the name of Christianity? Now, answer the same questions with drugs and you have your answer.

    If a Christian program gets someone off drugs: great. However, I, as a taxpayer, do not wish to subsidize Christian recruitment. I would rather subsidize programs that get people off drugs *and* religion rather that subsidize programs that substitute one addiction for another.


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