Christian Morality in the White House
A recent letter
to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from a former
Allegheny County Commissioner suggested that opposition to the current war
in Iraq is largely the product of resentment of President Bush for his
Christian morality. It wasn’t long after I read this letter that I began
writing a rebuttal to it. Apparently, many others did the same, as the
newspaper printed several
responses, not including mine. The essay below is an edited version of
my letter to the editor of 3/22/2003.
— LED, 4/3/2003
A current idea among American conservatives seems to be that opposition to President George W. Bush—and, particularly, opposition to the war in Iraq—is not so much the result of policy differences with the President as it is a reaction to Mr. Bush’s avowal of Christian principles. In this view, the current President stands in stark contrast to the “immoral” Bill Clinton, and he is despised for it. (It is fascinating how the religious right equates morality with sexual rectitude, and shows little concern for indiscretions such as corporate lying, cheating, and stealing.)
I agree that Mr. Bush's religion is an important source of discomfort with the President for many citizens, but this discomfort may be as prevalent among Christians as among non-Christians.
Like Islam, Christianity is diverse, with liberal and conservative wings that sometimes view one another with distrust or incredulity. People possessed of
unquestioned faith and piety subscribe to radically different moral positions on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, obligations to the poor, birth control, divorce, stem cell research, or war. Contrary to
the conservative view that opponents to the President’s positions on
these issues are morally bankrupt, as a nation, we care deeply about
them and have quite legitimate disagreements with the current
administration. In fact, no reputable political consultant would suggest that anyone perceived as an atheist could be elected President; we expect our national leader to be God-fearing and moral.