God’s President

Hey everyone, this is Ron Gold reporting:

During his eight years as president, there was always speculation that George W. Bush believed his decisions were guided by God.  Since leaving office, these suspicions have only intensified.  For example, take this nugget:

[There] are new accounts emerging from France describing how former president Jacques Chirac was utterly baffled by a 2003 telephone conversation in which Bush reportedly invoked fanatical Old Testament prophecy – including the Earth-ending battle with forces of evil, Gog and Magog – in his arguments to enlist France in the Coalition of the Willing.

“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins,” Bush said to Chirac, according to Thomas Romer, a University of Lausanne theology professor who was later approached by French officials anxious to understand the biblical reference. Romer first revealed his account in a 2007 article for the university review, Allez savoir, which passed largely unnoticed.

Chirac, in a new book by French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice, is quoted as confirming the surreal conversation, saying he was stupefied by Bush’s reference to biblical prophecy and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs.”

Assuming Bush really did receive divine guidance, this still leaves many questions.  For starters, exactly when did Bush believe he communicated with God?  Perhaps on 9/11, when he was appeared entranced by My Pet Goat, he was actually receiving messages from God about Gog and Magog.
 
Also, were all of Bush’s actions guided by God—including the clearing of brush on his Texas ranch and his lengthy golf vacations—or just his foreign policy decisions?
 
Learning that a former president probably thought he was fighting in a war “willed by God” is unsettling, to say the least.  Of the many possible drawbacks, the worst one might be the illusion of infallibility.  When someone thinks they are performing God’s will, they aren’t going to second guess themselves or be self-critical in the least, even after making a clear error.  This fits the Bush profile; indeed, he was famously unable to list a mistake of his during a press conference.
 
Now contrast Bush with President Obama.  With the exception of a certain type of conspiracy theorist, Obama is widely considered to be the type of Christian who finds his faith very important.  But unlike Bush, there is no indication that he thinks he communicates with God, or for that matter, that he believes we’re living in the End Times.  Even if Obama holds his share of irrational beliefs, they are on a totally different level than those as his predecessor.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    With the exception of a certain type of conspiracy theorist, Obama is widely considered to be the type of Christian who finds his faith very important.

    There are two types of people who think Obama may not be a genuine Christian. The first is inbred yokels led by the Religious Right who believe the rumours about Obama being a secret muslim.

    The second suspect Obama may be a “Christian of convenience” who is actually a freethinker. Well, they do acknowledge that Obama considers his faith to be very important – politically.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Perhaps NonStampCollector should make a new version of his Jephthah cartoon and make Bush the character asking for God’s help in fighting his enemies.

    In Bush’s case, I wonder who would Bush need to sacrifice to appease God at the end?

  • littlejohn

    Reginald: I agree, and I tend to place myself in the second group. Obama is politically savvy and knows he has to go through the motions to get elected. It’s hard to believe someone that intellectually accomplished hasn’t noticed the logical problems with god-belief. In addition, Obama’s comfort with modern science — he just appointed a cyber-crimes tsar, ended the ban on stem cell research, etc. — suggests a secular mind-set.
    I think it’s no coincidence that Dubya, the worst president in American history, may also have been the most religious.
    Like the old joke goes, when you talk to god, it’s called praying. When god talks to you, it’s called schizophrenia. Bush has said that god told him to run for president. I think that explains a lot.

  • David D.G.

    Egad!

    =^O

    Man, G.W. Bush has got to be one of the scariest political leaders of the last 50 years — right up there with Kim Jong Il, and for some of the same reasons. I’m starting to be grateful, however, for all the damage he did not do, such as using nukes on anyone. Let’s hope that Korea’s fanatical leader doesn’t decide to outdo Bush in that regard!

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    Seriously, how the hell did we survive the last 8 years? We are lucky that he didn’t get fired on The Spirits and decide to launch some nukes.

  • DicePlayGod

    “… But unlike Bush, there is no indication that he thinks he communicates with God …”

    If my experience growing up in a Christian church is any guide, all Christians believe they are communicating directly with god during prayer. And they believe that god speaks directly to them in a “still, small voice”.

    If Obama calls himself a Christian, I think we can be almost 100% certain that he believes he communicates with god. However, the improvement over Bush is that he doesn’t justify his decisions with reference to that communication. He uses normal reasoning about secular criteria in all his statements.

  • Shannon Vaughn

    I saw something interesting that relates to this recently on Keith Olberman. He had on Reverend C. Welton Gaddy, who is the president of the Interfaith Alliance. Although he is a Baptist minister, he is a staunch advocate of the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, which makes him one of my heroes.

    Anyway, he said that the actual meaning of “taking the Lord’s name in vain,” which is prohibited by some commandment or other, is not saying things like “god dammit,” as most people believe it means. Rather, it is claiming to have heard directly from god and using those claims to justify doing what you want to do; this is exactly what W. did when he claimed that god told him to run for president and to start the war.

    Obviously Bush isn’t the only christian who is guilty of this behavior–people of Pat Robertson’s ilk make claims like these all the time.

    Personally, I still think they’re wacko and/or con artists, but according to christian doctrine, they’re sinners too!!

  • Shannon Vaughn

    Seriously, how the hell did we survive the last 8 years? We are lucky that he didn’t get fired on The Spirits and decide to launch some nukes.

    I think it remains to be seen whether we will survive the last eight years. We are far from seeing the end results of some of the plans and policies enacted by the Bush administration. The wars he started are far from resolved, the torture he ordered/allowed has spawned new generations of terrorists, some of whom may not even be born yet, he did NOTHING to rid the world of the continuing nuclear threat, and he absolutely wasted eight years when we could have been making some real progress on climate change, and all of that only scratches the surface of the devastation he left in this country. Don’t get me started on the economy!

  • Darryl

    What makes me worry about our country are the number of citizens that are okay with torture, and okay with our profit-driven and aimless militarism. These are the same people that reelected the dumbest President in history and got scared by the likes of that madman Dick Cheney into going to war in Iraq. These folks are still out there, and are still untrustworthy. They also happen to make up the 90+% of folks that believe in God and think that to teach creationsim alongside evolution would not be a bad idea. Forgive me, but this bears repeating: Bush is not to blame for the last eight years (once a dumbass always a dumbass)–we are!


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