Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Elmer Gantry, we hardly knew ye

Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

T.S. Eliot

NPR finds some typical Bush supporters who admire him for his piety and are assured he prays about his every decision.

And the evidence for that seems to be: because Bush says so.


Carter attended church regularly, still teaches Sunday school (or did, last I heard; perhaps he's stopped by now), writes books about moral values, won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, even gave the famous Playboy interview where he talked about his faith (remember? How he'd even sinned in his heart?). Clinton even went to church more than once every election year.

Bush, like Reagan before him, hasn't been in a church since Corretta King's funeral (and he didn't seem too comfortable there). Before that, he was at the National Cathedral (if memory serves, that's where it was) for the service post 9/11. And since?

Is it really credible he'd go without a Marine division, anyway? Or at least an anti-aircraft battery on the roof?

What is it about American culture that makes church going so important (we obsess over the numbers, crow about how many members "our" denomination has), and at the same time, makes it so unimportant? We worry more about prayer in schools than on Sunday mornings (or Friday evenings, your choice), don't care a bean how a public figure acts, but positively base our opinion on what he or she says, and generally behave like the most gullible fools on the planet.

Well, 11% of us do, anyway. The problem is, I know people like this: and they are good people, and I would never think of them as gullible fools.

Or is it simply that the old adage is true: "Sincerity. If you can fake that, you've got it made"?

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