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Steve Weissman: Mr. Bush and His Easter Rebellion

Mr. Bush and His Easter Rebellion

By Steve Weissman
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Sunday 27 March 2005

Why do so many zealots live in the land of darkness?

Whatever they believe, those consumed by truth rarely understand how anyone of good faith can possibly fail to see their particular light. Those who refuse "the truth" must be wicked, willful, or somehow uninstructed, and become the target of fervid evangelism, whether with soothing words or avenging fire.

Our President uses both, as he showed in his Easter message.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16.

I send greetings to all those celebrating Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through His sacrifice and triumph over death, Christ lifted the sights of humanity forever. In His teachings, the poor have heard hope, the proud have been challenged, and the weak and dying have found assurance. Today, the words of Jesus continue to comfort and strengthen Christians around the world.

Many - though by no means anywhere near a majority - who believe in these words will find it wonderful that the President has repeated them in the exercise of his public office. Mr. Bush and his political advisors know this, and clearly used the opportunity of his weekly radio address to further cement the bond between the President and those who want to turn America into "a Christian nation."

Nor does the president or his flock necessarly mean to hurt or exclude those of us who follow other paths - or no religious path at all. He is only bringing us the Word, and what could be a greater gift?

Well, thanks, but no thanks. The dangers are far too real. By so publicly rejecting the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state - and throwing off the good manners of millions of Americans who exercise their freedom of belief in private - Mr. Bush threatens to lead America down the road to open religious conflict. We've seen where that leads from South Asia to the Middle East, and in the bloody history of Europe's religious wars. Is that what we want for America? Is that what we want for the world?

From his first use of the word "Crusade" to describe his "War on Terror," Mr. Bush has led Muslims everywhere to see America as fighting a holy war against them. This only builds support for Osama bin Laden and others who would fight a holy war, or jihad, against those who fail to salute their religious banner. Why, in his self-righteous blindness, does Mr. Bush persist in being their recruiting sergeant?

No doubt, many on my side of the political divide will dismiss Mr. Bush's Easter antics as merely pandering to or emboldening his supporters on the religious right. I fear worse. I could be wrong, and hope I am. But I see our preacher-president raising the flag of Christian nationalism over the Oval Office. As my colleague Will Pitt has discussed, the religious right openly, even seditiously, calls for the creation of a United States of Jesus. With his Easter message, Mr. Bush has come perilously close to publicly joining their ranks.


A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he writes for t r u t h o u t.

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