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In bad faith

CNN ran a news item yesterday with the shattering headline, "Bush talking more about religion". But if that were all he were doing, it'd be fine. It's not, though. Bush uses faith as a reason not to have to act. Case in point? His words on Martin Luther King Day (via the NY Times):

"It is fitting that we honor this great American in a church because out of the church comes the notion of equality and justice. And even though progress has been made, there is more to do. There are still people in our society who hurt. There is still prejudice holding people back. There is still a school system that doesn't elevate every child so they can learn. There is still a need for us to hear the words of Martin Luther King, to make sure the hope of America extends its reach into every neighborhood across this land."

That's more than just talking about religion; it's suggesting just having faith — without any further action — as a reasonable alternative to actually addressing an admitted concern. Coming from a U.S. president, that's absurd.

Bush can talk about religion all he wants; and we don't need CNN to tell us when he does. What matters is when he substitutes rhetoric (sincere or otherwise) for actual solutions to the nation's problems. In the end, his words about faith are about as meaningful to the country as the lip service he gives to his supposed beliefs that his tax cuts will save the economy or that targeting Iraq is an effective way to attack al Qaeda: They distract us from problems he doesn't want to have to address. That's the real problem, regardless of whether some of us personally don't have the same religious faith he does.

February 19, 2003 12:24 PM


Not being evangelically Christian, I can't say for sure, but my impression is that part of Bush's evangelicism is leaving things in the hands of God. As in, making your own peace with God is its own reward. And so viewing this kind of thing (which, uh, rather doesn't apply to, say, Iraq) through that lens makes sense.

Not something I can really argue, but I think I've seen a few people write around it a little bit.

Posted by claxy on February 22, 2003 4:46 PM

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