Magazine article The Christian Century

Bully Pulpit

Magazine article The Christian Century

Bully Pulpit

Article excerpt

TO HEAR PRESIDENT BUSH speak of late, you might think he was mounting a pulpit, not a podium. With war on the horizon, the providence of God is especially on his mind. "Events aren't moved by blind change and chance," he said at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, echoing similar sentiments expressed in his State of the Union address. "Behind all of life and all of history, there's a dedication and a purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful God."

American presidents have long used scripture in addressing the nation, but the religious rhetoric of the current president is unprecedented, some argue (see the news article on p. 10). Some members of his own staff have felt compelled to assure the nation that the president really is a secular leader, and that his decisions on Iraq are based on his judgments about national security, not on faith.

There seems little doubt, however, that the president's faith is shaping his public policies, especially on stem cell research but also on possible war with Iraq. We don't believe the president is cynical about his use of faith language--that it is merely a ploy to keep conservative Christians in his court or to mask his "real" motivations for taking on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

What is alarming is that Bush seems to have no reservations about the notion that God and the good are squarely on the American side. As Joe Klein put it in Time, the President's "faith offers no speed bumps on the road to Baghdad; it does not give him pause or force him to reflect. …

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