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God and the GOP
November 21, 2011 - Ron Hart
November 17, 2011
By Ron HartThe battle among the GOP presidential candidates to be holier-than-thou continues; all Christian candidates (but mine, Ron Paul) have intimated that God told them to run. Historically, God does not get involved in primaries; legally, he should form a PAC.
Herman Cain rounded out the Republican field by saying this week, "I prayed and prayed and prayed ... I had to do a lot of praying for this one. And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do ..." Apparently he demanded a recount and won.
Raised a Baptist, I know religion is as important in the South as SEC football. Properly applied, it has comforted many. Yet it still creeps me out – as it does moderate swing voters – when candidates say "God told them."
Obama feigns religion, but only worships himself. At least with Obama, we all know union bosses told him to be president. That's believable.
Oddly, you never hear a candidate say that God told him, "You're over your head here and really should not be running for president." It seems they all poll well with God when they interpret His desires.
Considering that George Bush got us into what can only be considered religious wars, GOP voters might want to rethink the notion that the self-purportedly most devout among their candidates should be their nominee. Bush said he spoke to God about the wars and reads the Bible every day. I kind of thought he would have finished it by his second term.
Borrowing from C.S. Lewis, voters need to determine if those who espouse "talking to God" are "lunatic, liar, or lord." It is always a slippery slope where the GOP primaries fail in that candidates are forced to sign hard right pledges in Iowa.
Ronald Reagan was the least evangelical of recent GOP contenders. He ignited intellectual arguments for conservatism that appealed to reason, not mysticism. Nancy Reagan seemed to prefer astrology to religion.
For the GOP, it is hard to pitch an inclusive "big tent" when you believe it should be used for healing revivals and snake-handling preachers.
The current GOP candidates spout varying degrees of religious rhetoric. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry both say they will lead the nation in prayer if elected president. If either one is elected, I think I will be doing a lot of praying on my own.
Newt Gingrich, whose campaign got off to a slow start because he was attending his next wife's birth, has been smart enough not to tug too much at the religious string. Since he is now a Catholic, a religion more about procedure than proselytizing, he seems the most sensible on the subject.
There is an evangelical instinct to view Mormonism as odd, but all religions are a huge leap of faith. As a friend remarked on Christianity to me, it is based on the Virgin Mary, a woman who really stuck to her story.
Mitt Romney is wise to stay mute on the subject. A recent poll revealed that only 41 percent of Americans admit being comfortable with the prospect of a Mormon president. But to be fair, it took us a while to get used to a moronic Muslim one. Playing to uneducated voters, Romney should point out that he will not have Cain's women problems. If he desired a second woman he could just marry her. The right loves marriage.
Religion is so often used by politicians as a distraction. With two and a half wars going on, financial meltdowns, recessions, unemployment and deficits, our GOP Congress had its priorities right when it brought a bill to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the national motto. It should comfort the unemployed to know the bill passed 396 to 9.
Such a vote has all the religious meaning of a Kardashian church wedding. Ron Paul opposed the vote. Ironically, if there is a true "man of conviction" in this race, it is Ron Paul.
Maybe running with God as your purported co-pilot is not as good as it once was. In a recent Public Policy Polling survey, God only had a 52 percent approval rating. Not good; we could be looking at a one-term God.
Every politician loves feckless phrases like "change." Obama and now the GOP can "change" hearts toward God in their campaigns. But remember, if we do not get our fiscal house in order, China can "change" the locks.
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