The writer of a letter recently appearing in The Tennessean says the president’s religious faith conflicts with his decision to go to war in Iraq. Many of Bush’s Christian critics share this opinion.
And in one sense they’re right. There is indeed a major disparity between Bush’s bombing and Christ’s Beatitudes. To which I can only exclaim, “Thank Goodness!”
Thank goodness Bush isn’t turning the other cheek to terrorists. Thank goodness he showers our enemies with bullets instead of love. Thank goodness he disobeys Jesus’ command to “bless them that curse you.” (Or maybe he thinks the scripture reads, “Blast them that curse you.”)
Sure, no one admires hypocrisy. But if the philosophy you follow is irrational to begin with, backsliding is almost a virtue.
And what could be more irrational than a moral code that would have you reward evil with kindness, as Christianity would? For how else could you interpret Jesus’ admonition to “pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you”? How else would you characterize “do good to them that hate you”?
THAT is what Bush’s religious detractors want guiding our foreign policy?
THAT is what their faith demands?
If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, faith is the sole refuge of a mystic.
One who can prove one’s beliefs appeals to facts, and benefits from other people’s intelligence and rationality. One whose beliefs can’t be proven, by contrast, is threatened by other people’s intelligence and rationality and thus has to appeal to something other than facts. That’s where faith comes in.
After all, what logical basis is there for saying that ethics entails loving one’s enemies? What rational reason is there for saying that morality requires presenting one’s cheek for an encore smacking? There is no rational reason for it and none has ever been given– only a faith-based one.
Neither Bush’s faith nor that of his critics is moral. Morality begins with recognizing truth. And truth is the product, not of “supernatural” fishing expeditions, but of facts of reality. Facts can be discerned and integrated only by using one’s mind, one’s faculty of reason. Reason, then, is the onramp to genuine morality.
Self-defense is moral because it is a logical application of the rationally demonstrable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness upon which America was founded (despite our Founders wrongly attributing those rights to a Creator).
It would be an abomination to sacrifice the self-defense of the best nation in history for the sake of faith in what some alleged prophet may have prattled on a dusty Middle Eastern knoll 20 centuries ago.
In fact, the president’s Christian faith has already undercut America’s ability to properly battle terrorists and the states that support them. So eaten up with faith is Bush that he can’t even name the enemy: militant Islam. To do so would mean identifying and coming to terms with what drives them: faith. That would hit too close to home for Bush.
Just consider for a moment what it would mean if we consistently practiced Jesus’ abysmal cheek-turning and enemy-love doctrine in the face of those who believe their faith demands killing “infidels.” Who do you think would win such a fight?