10/27/2004: Thought for the Day:
But what’s wrong with an infusion of religion into Presidential speeches or even policy? The Founders may have believed in a separation between church and state, but the Constitution’s secularism doesn’t prevent a President from drawing on his religious beliefs in making decisions. Nor has Bush somehow “imposed” his faith on others, however alienating some may find his spiritual language to be. The problem lies, rather, in the specific ways in which Bush uses religion. Abraham Lincoln, in his second Inaugural address, invoked God, but he did so in a spirit of humility, questioning his own certitude and thus inviting further questioning. Bush does the opposite: his use of religion seems designed to remove any doubt—first in his own mind, then in the public’s—about his course. It doesn’t assist Bush with his reasoning; it substitutes for reasoning. Instead of providing a starting point for careful judgments, it assures him that the instincts on which he has based his policy are unerring.
This kind of recourse to religion leaves citizens no grounds on which to question the President’s actions. If the inspiration of God or the Bible is purely personal or subjective, it’s not open to debate—and decisions based on it become immune from scrutiny. The result is to short-circuit political deliberation, since democracy rests on the ability of the governed to check their leaders through reasoned argument. Ironically, George W.’s religious beliefs bolster the manorial tendencies of the Bush family. God and family alike promote a sense of special dispensation. It’s what happens when the politics of personal relationships comes to center on a personal relationship with God.
Len on 10.27.04 @ 06:51 AM CST