In God’s name

As you read this, the United States, with or without the United Nations, may have invaded Iraq already. Thousands of people, Americans and Iraqis, soldiers and civilians, may have been slaughtered. Many Americans may ask how in God’s name such things are possible. We answer that if such atrocities have indeed come to pass, it is precisely because God, through President George W. Bush, has given them sanction.

Much like the terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, believed God was on their side, Bush believes the Supreme Being is on our side. This was evident shortly after the buildings came down, when the president called for a “crusade” against terror, surely aware that the word would inflame most of the world’s Muslims. It was no gaff or Bushism, as the president’s frequent public-speaking errors have become known. Everything Bush has said and done since 9/11 indicates he literally believes he is leading a religious crusade of good against evil.

Bush’s theology is steeped in evangelical fundamentalism, and he has surrounded himself with advisers who share those beliefs. Many right-leaning evangelicals believe we are currently in the end times prophesized by the Book of Revelations in the Bible. The final battleground is said to be in the Middle East, and the president, though stopping short of publicly endorsing end-times theology, has said he feels it is his prophetic destiny to lead the crusade against terror and the so-called Axis of Evil: North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

Perhaps because our society has a tradition of religious tolerance, Bush’s faith largely has been ignored by much of the public. However, the president has been embraced feverishly by those who share his beliefs. According to a recent Gallup Poll, “there is a particularly high probability that white Protestants who identify as born-again or evangelical are Republicans and that they approve of the job Bush is doing.”

Such support may not have been enough to win Bush the popular election, but it has helped maintain high levels of support for both the president and the war effort. Some critics suggest that the president, who recently declared that the jury was still out on the theory of evolution, is simply using religion to fortify his political base and that his faith is neither sincere nor genuine. A far grimmer prospect is that the president actually believes what he says he does—that tens of thousands of innocents must die, all in the name of God.