Democracy Under Assault
Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right

Michele Swenson

The 'Divinely Ordained' Presidency of George W. Bush

Bob Jones III, retiring president of Bob Jones University, lauded the "divinely-ordained' presidency in a 2005 letter to George W. Bush: "In your re-election, God has graciously granted America - though she doesn't deserve it - a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. Put your agenda on the front burnder and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."

Thus, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, Florida candidate for U.S. Senate, is not the first to express the idea that "God is the one who chooses our rulers" and that failing to elect Christians to political office permits lawmakers to "legislate sin," resulting in government that is doomed to fail. (The Orlando Sentinel, 8/06) The danger of those like Harris who read their will as God's will are reflected in her rationalization of actions in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election in Florida - the ends come to justify any means.

The political right since the '60s has portrayed themselves a minority persecuted by mainstream Christians and others "allied with Satan." James Dobson et al hold that the founders' intent for the Constitution was to "perpetuate a Christian order" and to put "godly people" in office. Government failure to prefer their religious doctrine above all others renders them a "persecuted minority," portending "unprecedented spiritual warfare," warns Pat Robertson.

Such U.S. pseudo-Christian groups as Christian Reconstructionists and Christian Identity adherents have long sought to replace democracy with theocratic dogma, and hold that white Christian males from biblically correct churches are sole heirs to power. Christian Reconstructionists define democracy as "heresy." They preach an unfettered capitalism and social services (e.g., health, education and welfare) as functions of the church - policies advanced by George W. Bush. Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, deemed the group "built by God to establish Christian governance of the nation." Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson named non-Christians in government "termites," calling for a "godly fumigation." Predicting civil war should religious revival in America fail, he viewed his 1988 run for the presidency a transitional stage to biblical end times.

An Alvin, Texas city councilman in 1993 promoted the belief that only Christians be allowed to hold public office, and that elected officials should make a "public profession of faith in God the Father and the Son" in recognition of our "Christian nation." The Oklahoma City bombing was cited as evidence by Oklahoma state representative Ray Vaughn that it is "the duty of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Tim LaHaye, co-author of the "Left Behind" series wrote: "We must remove all humanists from public office and replace them with pro-moral political leaders." Christian Reconstructionist Howard Phillips has called for return to "one family one vote," his euphemism for denying women the vote. The dominion mandate for Christian nationalism holds that non-Christians cannot be trusted to serve on juries or hold public office because they cannot be trusted to swear on the Bible.

In The American Religion Harold Bloom distinguished American Christianity from traditional or European Christianity. Without the distinct American fundamentalist Christianity, he noted, "..we would not have the tyranny of Goerge W. Bush.." and the move toward American theocracy.

When a Baptist Church in Waynesville, N.C. mandated that its members vote for George W. Bush in 2004, a vote for John Kerry was reason to repent or leave the church. (ABC News, 5/9/05)

"Faith in the White House" (PAX TV, 6/28/05) celebrated George W. Bush as "God's choice" for president - "guided by moral principle" because he "accepts Christ as savior." The program lauded Bush's "reawakening the nation to principles on which it was founded"ó shorthand to biblical literalists for¬†God's intended¬†biblical Christian basis for U.S. government.¬† Bush is "inspired by God," gushed Rev. James Robison. "Faith" narrator Jan Parshall termed Bush a man of "faith, of prayer and of love." Referring to the events of 9/11 - the first incident of "war on our own soil" since the presidencies of Lincoln or Washington - she implied that G.W. Bush is "the right man at the right time," a belief she asserted is embraced by "a majority of church-going Americans."

Bush often speaks the code of religious nationalism. Stating in November 2005 that "Terrorists oppose us because of what we believe in," his transparent allusions to Muslim-Christian conflict are not lost on his constituency of "true believers." So, too, do Republican allusions to "Islamofascists" raise the parallel of U.S. Christian fascists who have likewise resorted to terrorism and murder in attempts to impose their vision of divinely ordained power.