Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire. Once There Was Rome, the Barbarians, and the Christians. Now There Is a New Rome and Lots of Barbarians. the Big Question Is, What Will the Christians Do?. (Cover Story)

By Wallis, Jim | Sojourners Magazine, September-October 2003 | Go to article overview

Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire. Once There Was Rome, the Barbarians, and the Christians. Now There Is a New Rome and Lots of Barbarians. the Big Question Is, What Will the Christians Do?. (Cover Story)


Wallis, Jim, Sojourners Magazine


Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind. The moment a person (or government or religion or organization) is convinced that God is either ordering or sanctioning a cause or project, anything goes. The history, worldwide, of religion-fueled hate, killing, and oppression is staggering.--Eugene Peterson (from the introduction to the book of Amos in the Bible paraphrase The Message)

"The military victory in Iraq seems to have confirmed a new world order," Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, wrote recently in The Washington Post, "Not since Borne has one nation loomed so large above the others. Indeed, the word 'empire' has come out of the closet."

The use of the word "empire" in relation to American power in the world was once controversial, often restricted to left-wing critiques of U.S. hegemony. But now, on op-ed pages and in the nation's political discourse, the concepts of empire, and even the phrase "Pax Americana," are increasingly referred to in unapologetic ways.

William Kristol, editor of the influential Weekly Standard, admits the aspiration to empire. "If people want to say we're an imperial power, fine," Kristol wrote. Kristol is chair of the Project for the New American Century, a group of conservative political figures that began in 1997 to chart a much more aggressive American foreign policy (see "Project for a New American Empire," page 27). The Project's papers lay out the vision of an "American peace" based on "unquestioned U.S. military pre-eminence." These imperial visionaries write, "America's grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible." It is imperative, in their view, for the United States to "accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles." That, indeed, is empire.

There is nothing secret about all this; on the contrary, the views and plans of these powerful men have been quite open. These are Far Right American political leaders and commentators who ascended to governing power and, after the trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, have been embolded to carry out their agenda.

In the run-up to the war with Iraq, Kristol told me that Europe was now unfit to lead because it was "corrupted by secularism," as was the developing world, which was "corrupted by poverty." Only the United States could provide the "moral framework" to govern a new world order, according to Kristol, who recently and candidly wrote, "Well, what is wrong with dominance, in the service of sound principles and high ideals?" Whose ideals? The American right wing's definition of "American ideals," presumambly.

Bush Adds God

To this aggressive extension of American power in the world, President George W. Bush adds God--and that changes the picture dramatically. It's one thing for a nation to assert its raw dominance in the world; it's quite another to suggest, as this president does, that the success of American military and foreign policy is connected to a religiously inspired "mission," and even that his presidency may be a divine appointment for a time such as this.

Many of the president's critics make the mistake of charging that his faith is insincere at best, a hypocrisy at worst, and mostly a political cover for his right-wing agenda, I don't doubt that George W. Bush's faith is sincere and deeply held. The real question is the content and meaning of that Faith and how it impacts his administration's domestic and foreign policies.

George Bush reports a life-changing conversion around the age of 40 from being a nominal Christian to a born-again believer--a personal transformation that ended his drinking problems, solidified his family life, and gave him a sense of direction. He change his denominational affiliation from his parents' Episcopal faith to his wife's Methodism.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dangerous Religion: George W. Bush's Theology of Empire. Once There Was Rome, the Barbarians, and the Christians. Now There Is a New Rome and Lots of Barbarians. the Big Question Is, What Will the Christians Do?. (Cover Story)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.