Washington Post op-ed, March 2, 2003
Fritz Ritsch, pastor of
Bethesda Presbyterian Church, in a Washington suburb, notes that
the President will not meet with representatives of mainstream
Christian denominations, while he uses the "bully pulpit," acting
like "theologian in chief."
Ritsch's column, titled, "Of God, and Man, in the Oval
Office," gives a detailed and theological critique of Bush's
rhetoric, and that of the so-called religious drive for war and empire.
While Ritsch does not take up explicitly, the matter of
the role of Bush's lead speech-writer, Michael J. Gerson, the
Elmer Gantry-type who wrote the President's Oct. 7, 2002,
Cincinnati speech on Iraq, Ritsch does specify and denounce
specific words and phrases, which are the typical
"secret-meaning" fundamentalist clap-trap Gerson specializes in.
Ritsch writes, ``Contrary to popular opinion, the religion
that this group [Bush's religious supporters] espouses is
Triumphalism, not Christianity. Theirs is a zealous form of
nationalism, baptized with Christian language. The German
theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was martyred by the Nazis,
foresaw the rise of a similar view in his country, which he
labeled, `joyous secularism.' .... f, as I believe, this
worldview is really American triumphalism, Christianity has taken
a backseat to joyous secularism [i.e. Nazism]''
Bush, Ritsch says, ``asserts a worldview that most Christian
denominations reject outright as heresy: the myth of redemptive
violence, which posits a war between good and evil ... God
[versus] ... Satan.... Christians have held this view to be
heretical since at least the third century.... In contrast [to
the ``fundamentalists''], the Judeo-Christian worldview is that
Ritsch points to ways that the ignorant Bush misuses
received religion. For example, ``The President used the words of
a hymn `There's Power in the Blood,' to strengthen the religious
rhetoric of his State of the Union speech.
He spoke of the
`power, wonder-working power'
of `the goodness and idealism and
faith of the American people.'
The original words of the hymn
refer to the `wonder-working power' of `the precious blood of the
lamb' -- Jesus Christ. The unspoken but apparently deliberate
parallel between Americans and Jesus is disturbing, to say the least.''
[source: New York Times, by Thomas Friedman, March 2]
"DON'T BELIEVE THE POLLS," says New York Times columnist
Thomas Friedman column. "I've been to nearly 20 states recently,
and I've found that 95% of the country wants to see Iraq dealt
with without a war. But President Bush is a man on a mission...."
Friedman's report is notable, because he himself supports going
to war, but he thinks Bush has screwed up the preparations
diplomatically and otherwise.