Just a few years ago the Religious Right was talking about making itself more appealing and effective in mainstream politics. The head of the Christian Coalition at the time, Ralph Reed, declared that the Religious Right needed to tone down its rhetoric, overcome its tradition of racial bigotry, and reach out to Jews, Catholics and ethnic minorities.
The four front-runners for the presidency are following what has become a political pattern: candor when there are no votes to be lost, extreme caution when votes are at risk. This pattern of choosing expediency over courage is in plain view in the current debate over a Confederate flag and a Cuban child. The two issues have an obvious solution—send them back where they belong.
A week or so after President Bush assured the nation that education would continue to be one of his top priorities and that no child would be left behind, I had an extended conversation with the principal of an elementary school in the middle of Cabrini-Green. Cabrini is the housing project on the near north side of Chicago. Constructed in the ’60s, Cabrini once housed 20,000 people.
From the time that George W. Bush declared Jesus his favorite political philosopher to the day Joseph Lieberman joined the Democratic ticket quoting the Book of Chronicles, religion was in the limelight during the 2000 presidential campaign. And when it was all over, Bush entered office amidst a flurry of worship services, clerical blessings and religious consultations.
Pundits and politicians used to say they were embarrassed to have to tell their children that Bill Clinton didn’t tell the truth about his escapades. Based on recent reports, the children are still not safe. Our newest role model in the White House has been flirting with untruths on matters far more serious than personal escapades.
In his late December decision to support the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court, President Clinton did the right thing—though it was also a relatively easy thing. Most of the heavy lifting on behalf of the ICC treaty remains to be done.
A recent New Yorker cartoon showed one man sizing up another man in a clerical collar: “I see you’re a member of a faith-based organization.” We’re bound to hear a lot more public conversation about “faith-based organizations” during the presidency of George W. Bush.
Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, a leading Christian conservative who helped advance the Bush administration’s agenda on a range of social issues, says that the formerly sanctioned practice of waterboarding of suspected terrorists is torture and “violates everything we stand for.”
After President Obama released memos from Bush administration lawyers that defended waterboarding, Dick Cheney told Fox News that extreme interrogation methods like waterboarding helped the country gain important information and deter terrorist attacks.
President Bush said he doesn’t know if God wanted him to be president, doubts the Bible is literally true, agrees you can believe in God and evolution simultaneously, and believes Christians and those of other faiths pray to the same God.