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What Would It Take?

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In recent posts, I have been writing about the captivity of our imaginations, how the tyranny of current perceptions prevents us from imagining that things could be different. I say “current perceptions” rather than “current realities,” because those who would seek to keep our imaginations bound often do so by creating a false reality that serves their interests. Over time, we may come to embrace these perceptions of reality and are increasingly bound by them. Too easily, they become “our reality,” and we become the supporters and defenders of things that we really know better than to support or defend. When this happens, the question becomes how bad things will have to get before we awaken.

This is the question I have for my fellow Christians who support the Bush administration: how long will the support for this administration continue in light of their increasing betrayal of the core commitments of Jesus? What will it take to demand either that they stop wrapping themselves in the mantle of Christian faith or that they begin to live up to the obligations that attend that mantle? Almost daily, I find myself speechless at the audacity of this administration and the deafening silence of so many Christian leaders.

Consider:

  • We now know this president had contemplated the benefits of being a “war president” even prior to his election and that he and members of his administration were moving toward war with Iraq from even before 9/11.
  • In spite of the evidence, they continue to claim there was a link between 9/11 and Iraq.
  • We now know the intelligence regarding Iraqi WMDs was wrong and that this should have been known at the time.
  • 15,000 plus American and coalition soldiers have been killed or maimed, and latest estimates put the loss of Iraqi non-combatants at over 100,000.
  • With the recent agreement to an Iraqi Islamic state (think about that), the final pretense for the war (spreading democracy) has slipped away.
  • They used the popularity gained by “wartime administrations” to push through massive tax cuts that have disproportionately benefitted the well-to-do.
  • They have shredded the social safety net which has provided a minimal level of support for the most vulnerable members of our society.
  • Military spending has eaten so many resources desperately needed for schools, highways, etc.
  • They have overseen the rise of budget and trade deficits that are unsustainable.
  • They have supported so-called “Clean Water” and “Clean Skies” legislation that increases pollutants,
  • They have repeatedly misused scientific data for partisan benefit.
  • They have operated with an unprecedented level of secrecy.
  • Notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, it is now pretty clear that the Bush team (specifically, Karl Rove) outed Valerie Plame in attempt to discredit Joe Wilson though there has been no serious challenge to the substance of his report.
  • The president has refused to honor his commitment to dismiss the leaker once found.
  • The environment has been repeatedly sacrificed to corporate interests.
  • The debate on global warming–both as to its reality and the basic underlying causes–is over... Well, for everyone but this administration and some of its supporters.
  • This administration has led the push to open the Arctic reserve for oil drilling–frequently, with the very dishonest arguments...
  • The president opted for unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto protocols aimed at improving green house gas emissions.
  • This administration has continually underplayed the extent to which it has empowered torture and detainee abuse.
  • They have unilaterally withdrawn from treaties aimed at curtailing nuclear proliferation and have put the use of nuclear weapons back on the table.
  • This president’s policy of “pre-emptive war,” surely unwise, simply does not meet just war criteria (the basis Christians use to determine whether a given war is just).
  • Unilateralism has led to remarkable deterioration in international good will.
  • The recently signed energy bill, as admitted by even its supporters, does nothing to provide solutions to our long term energy needs, though it does benefit already highly profitable oil companies.
  • At the core of all these concerns are fundamental issues of character. For example, this president has exhibited nothing of that virtue we claim to prize so highly: humility.

At any point in this sad story, we should have arrived at the point where Christians would find themselves unable to support this administration. If this short list (it could be much, much longer) is not enough to make that point, what will be? My guess is that the answer is just this: as long as this administration talks up its opposition to abortion and homosexuality, they can do whatever else they please. An interesting passage in the letter to the church at Colossae indicates that the cross of Christ laid bare the powers that opposed him. How so? Well, the powers ordained by God (societal structures, for one) to order human life together were revealed for their perversity in that they killed the One who lived a life of perfect love. I wonder if the support of this administration has not shined a light deep into our being and revealed our own bankruptcy. Do we even have the will to see it and to repent?

I have tried to keep this post short, but you can find a longer, more detailed version here. We would be happy to hear your comments and insights.