Can’t find Bush’s Jesus in my Bible

I walked through Luis Palau’s Reno Festival Saturday afternoon. Kids were playing, skating and slurping affordable snow cones. Parents were smiling, catching shade in the prayer tent. The volunteers who staffed the evangelical Christian event were some of the nicest people you could meet.

Many of these same folks were among those supporters clamoring to get tickets to see George W. Bush on his Friday visit to Reno.

Bush talks the talk. That must be why so many Christians see Bush as an ally—a man of God for our times. In March, a U.S. News & World Report poll found that 62 percent of evangelicals would vote for Bush. In May, a poll by the Christian marketing firm Barna Group indicated that 86 percent of Bible-believing, faith-sharing Christians would vote for Bush.

I recently watched Frontline’s “The Jesus Factor,” about Bush’s conversion and how he’s leveraged his faith into the votes of church-goers (online at Look past contentious issues such as abortion and gay marriage (issues not given play in the Christian Bible), and it’s evident Bush’s theology doesn’t match the prevailing Christian messages of forgiveness, grace and love.

Evangelicals say there’s no better model for living than Jesus. Remember “WWJD”? But what does the savior of the planet look like? Aye, there’s the rub. A biker pastor I know sports a cute sticker: “He would’ve rode a Harley.”

George Bush’s vision of Jesus—a Ralph Reed/Rambo—frets over the unborn but sheds few tears for kids out of the womb. That’s the only way to explain cuts to welfare, day care, health and housing programs that affect thousands of children. That’s why public school teachers are required to “leave no child behind” without being given needed financial support.

Bush’s Jesus plays golf with the wealthy, ensures their tax breaks, offers federal subsidies to corporations that pollute air and water, overcharge consumers, cut employee health benefits and pay less than a living wage.

Bush’s redeemer is less about grace and more about paybacks. He packs an automatic weapon. He waves only an American flag.

“God is not neutral,” Bush said, when he pledged to “rid the world of evil.”

Is this the Christ depicted in the Bible, a book Bush promotes publicly?

I don’t think so. In one mountaintop sermon, Jesus taught a humility not mirrored by Bush & Co.

This Jesus said: “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. … Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy. … Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God. …

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Jesus ended his mountaintop sermon (see the book of Matthew) with a caution about false prophets who claim to do things for God. The litmus test, he said, is the fruit of the deeds.

Fruits? Instead of acting as a caretaker (see Genesis), Bush rolled back rules that protect creation in favor of protecting polluters. He disregarded the Bible’s definition of “pure religion” (see James)—“to visit orphans and widows in their distress”—by bombing global neighbors.

There’s more hatred and distrust of Americans than ever. More division. More fear. Less freedom.

I saw you on the freeway in a Dodge Durango, a courteous driver sporting bumper stickers for Luis Palau and Bush/Cheney in 2004. Please. Before you vote, take another look at the book. If you find Bush’s Jesus in there anywhere, let me know. I must have missed that part.