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Posted by on Oct 7, 2007 in At TMV | 9 comments

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 – 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 — let there be no mistake on that — 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 Bush’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 I’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.

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  • domajot


    Although I am far from being a pacifist, I do wonder at how Jesus’s words about turning the other cheek and loving your enemy disappear so conveniently from Chirstian discourse during times of condlict.

    The Amish seem to be the only ones left in the US who ppractice what they preach, at least about ‘forgiveness’ an not allowing hate to destoy the soul.
    Too bad I don’t like wearing bonnets.

  • Rudi

    The Fundie Republican’s hijacking oft the party became obscene with the Schiavo case. Even staunch Republican’s like John Cole of Balloon Juice left the Republicans when true conservatisms fell to the wayside to make the Fundies happy.

  • MarloweC

    So you are unhappy, Shaun, that Bush may be separating his work as President from his Christian faith? Isn’t this one of the things liberals always demand that Bush do?

    If Bush combines church and state, he is a fundie neocon Christie.

    If Bush separates church and state, he is a hypocrite.

    Christ himself is portrayed in the scriptures as being very careful to distinguish between the secular and the spiritual. Most famously, in avoiding the trap of Jewish leaders seeking to have him voice treason against the Roman state: “Give onto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”

    Also, I am not aware of any Muslims being scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified in US custody. There is a world of difference between the real Gulag or the Lubyanka…where interrogators were ankle deep in blood…and the “torture” that liberals are so outraged about under the Bush administration.

  • domajot

    Okay, so Muslims are worse.
    Stalin’s gulag was worse
    Hitler war worse.
    I”m sure you think Clinton was worse.

    You completely miss the point.

    This is about devout Christians, like Bush, conveniently forgetting large sections of the New Testament when it’s convenient to do so.

    Political parties have nothing to do with it.

    PS I like it better when you’re funny, instead of stretching every comment to point out how rotten leverals or Democrats are.

  • Sam

    “If Bush separates church and state, he is a hypocrite.”

    He’s not merely separating church and state, he’s acting as he would anytime. Its practically impossible to live Jesus’s teachings because they deal with the next life, not this one. If all of society turned the other cheek it would be wiped off the face of the earth by the first civilization it encounters that didn’t. Laws could not be enforced, and society as a whole would crumble. In fact, Jesus’s teachings MUST be separated from the law of the land for that reason.

    Nonetheless as a christian that is how you are expected to act, and Bush and MANY on the right would likely be scorned by Jesus if he appeared today.

  • satxfreedom
  • Sam,
    Our civilization is not in jeopardy. Now is not the time (if there is ever such a time) to abandon our notions of morality, democracy and freedom.

    By any reasonable definition, what our government has done in our name (and with little opposition from the population) is torture. Even leaving the moral arguments aside, torture is pointless. People will say anything to make it stop. So why sully our good names using techniques that are useless?

    Our President and Vice President, aside from being hypocrites, are both lawless madmen who seemingly believe that they are infallible. I, for one, am still surprised at how easily those among us ignore Bush and Cheney’s wrongdoing because of loyalty to a certain political ideology.

  • krit

    So we see the 9/11 attacks as a perversion of Islam (which they are) but see Bush’s choice to use torture as “just doing his job’? What is he, a Sunday morning Christian, invoking his faith only when it strengthens his position?

  • DLS

    So far, I’ve seen no remarks here about guilt over wife- and child-beating, or about an “Inquisition mentality,” that “explain” the Religious Right’s silence.

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