Who Would Jesus Have Tortured?
NEWARK, Delaware — The smell of autumn is in the air on this Sunday morning, that intoxicating aroma of decaying leaves, ripe apples and be-dewed grass brilliantly illuminated by the sun in a cloudless azure blue sky. But there is another smell as well and it is not so sweet â€“ the smell of hypocrisy as the faithful file into a fundamentalist Christian church for their weekly dose of God.
There they are, the fathers in their starched shirts and mothers in their best dresses, their two and a half children in tow, as I pedal by on my daily bike ride and take note of all of the bumper stickers in support of George W. Bush and the troops in Iraq on their SUVs and pickup trucks.
Now, hypocrisy is a strong word so I had better explain myself lest the Big Guy unleash a thunderbolt and knock out my hard drive before I can post this.
In researching my commentary yesterday titled Sic Semper Tyrannis: The Blackest of the Bush Administration’s Black Marks on the White House’s sick embrace of torture, I noticed that the so-called fundamentalist, faith-based Republicans who make up a goodly portion of the president’s political base have, with damned few exceptions, been silent.
You can read the Christian Bible in any number of ways, but it is a stretch to say that torture is endorsed. Its use as a tool of war is a sin. Period. And to be silent in the face of its use is to condone its use.
It’s not that fundamentalists cannot find their tongues. Why just the other day a bunch of them declared that the greatest threat to America is not gay marriage, flag desecration or even abortion. It’s anime.
The president has suffused his tenure with eschatological underpinnings, and nowhere more so than in the Global War on Terror and its wicked stepchild, the war in Iraq.
These wars are promoted as a kind of modern-day Crusade, if you will, against the predominant people of the Holy Land and environs whose religion we are told is shot through with darkness, ignorance and anger. In short, Islam is a threat to Christians everywhere.
Evangelical religious organizations are among the very few to break with the president on torture, but in doing so have made it clear that they are with him on the war.
When the National Association of Evangelicals endorsed a “zero tolerance” declaration against torture earlier this year, the Reverend Richard Cizik, a leading voice in the organization, noted that the statement was not intended as a criticism of the Bush administration.
But he added:
“There is a perception out there in the Middle East that we’re willing to accept any action in order to fight this war against terrorism. We are the conservatives â€” let there be no mistake on that â€” who wholeheartedly support the war against terror, but that does not mean by any means necessary.”
As I wrote a while back in a commentary about Bushâ€™s religiosity, a great thing about that Christian Bible is that it is like a big vending machine with pastries, cakes, candy, chewing gum and breath mints. There is something in it for almost everyone, so it’s useless to quote from it in declaring that George Bush is a sinner or a savior.
And I’m not saying, as did Luke, that we should love our enemies.
I happen to worship at home and my God is a little bit of everyone else’s. World travel will do that to you. But it does say in my Bible that if you plant ice you’re going to harvest wind.
No matter who your God may be, as far as Iâ€™m concerned George Bush has earned the wrath of his, which makes the silence of his flock over his most un-Christian embrace of torture so deafening.