Even as disaffected American liberals consider moving to Canada in the wake of the last week’s elections, many Canadian journalists are trying to figure out what the heck happened. Some of the early attempts at deciphering the results are not promising.
Take the Friday edition of CBC Radio’s The Current. The broadcast led off with a parody of Bush "spending" the political capital he’d built up: trading a couple televangelists for a ban on gay marriage and the like; then
there was a clip of John Ashcroft singing "Let the Eagle Soar"; then guest host Catherine Gretzinger introduced listeners to Ester Kaplan, author of With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House.
Kaplan warned that in Bush’s "first administration, we saw tremendous incursions into what has traditionally been the separation of church and state in this country," and that we should expect more of the same in the second go-round.
She nearly despaired that Bush, "running against only the second major party Catholic candidate [What about Al Smith? -- ed. It's so 1920 of you to bring that up.], carved into even the Catholic vote, and that seems to have come on these values issues — the narrow values issues of the Christian right — of abortion and this fight against gay marriage."
The author argued that more moderate Christians have a "values agenda of their own which has to do with valuing life, which has to do with taking care of the poor," but she lamented that they aren’t as good at organizing or articulating this vision as the "Christian right" are at firing up voters and getting them to the polls.
Kaplan reported that "I hear, as I’ve been traveling around lately, a tremendous amount of rage — or maybe depression is a better word — coming from Christians who feel like their religion has been hijacked. It’s very very similar to the kind of language we hear from moderate Muslims that somehow this far right wing within the religion has staked a claim to Christianity that many of them reject."
Fair enough. That’s one point of view of what happened and what comes next. And then Gretzinger turned to a Methodist minister for a rebuttal. The problem is, the minister was Philip Wogaman — Bill Clinton’s former pastor during the presidential years.
Listen to the broadcast. Wogaman clearly catches Gretzinger off guard by agreeing with what has been said thus far. He says that faith can be a good thing for the chief executive to have but we have to wonder, "Is it the kind of faith that is open to others, that embraces diversity, and that seeks justice for the marginalized
people of the world?"
If not — and Wogaman isn’t feeling very charitable toward Bush because of "the narrowness of his values" — then faith can and should work against the president. Wogaman contrasted the narrow way with the accepting way and intoned that Bush is way too crimped for his refined taste.