As we are now a month out of the most important election of our lifetime and in the wake of the Foley-page scandal, we are starting to see the deception unravel. The Republican Party had done a masterful job of convincing well-intended Christians that they were their party. That the democrats were somehow "Godless" and that the GOP was the moral choice. They recruited a network of religious leaders and pastors and convinced them the importance of convincing their flocks that republican, is what Jesus would do. The Bible says that in the last days many will be deceived and so it goes.
I have spoken with many disappointed evangelicals who finally can see the immense failure the last five years have been. They can take credit for putting a self-proclaimed Christian into the Oval Office and then giving him complete control of Congress in 2002. Given those facts they expected more results. They expected a return to family values. They expected a Christian administration with Christian results. What they got instead was an immoral war that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands innocent lives. Instead of taking care of the neediest in society they got the impoverishing of a nation, while the rich got richer. Instead of morality, they got Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff and Mark Foley. On top of the immorality, they got the defense of such behavior, or the minimizing of it, by the party of family values. Suddenly, telling a 16 year old boy that he is making a grown man, our elected representative, "horny", is reduced to "naughty emails." Suddenly a grown man asking a 16 year old boy to send him a picture of himself and commenting on another boy's body, are "vague." Instead of Christian values they got torture as national policy from the morality party. I do not think disappointing quite covers it for Christians.
That is what I have tried to convey to my brothers and sisters. The issue is not that you should be disappointed in the squandered opportunities by the Republican Party over the past five years. That still allows for the possibility that they actually intended to represent Christian values, which any objective analysis would have to admit they did not. The issue is not one of disappointment in our elected leaders but disappointment in ourselves for being deceived into thinking they even agreed with our beliefs to begin with. It has now been revealed that not only did the GOP not share these beliefs but that they have consistently used the Christian base, playing to their beliefs while mocking them in private.
George Bush had no problem using his Christianity when it suited his political expediency. My Bible however says that we are to look at the fruit that one produces. I am afraid that Christians were so gleeful to hear a politician actually say the name of Jesus Christ in public, let alone call him their favorite philosopher, that they bought the package being sold to them without inspection. Five years later they are left standing at the altar of corporatism wondering how they got there. George Bush is a corporate president and the GOP is the party of corporatism. They have allowed corporations to write legislation and buy policy. They have repealed restrictions on corporations at the expense of individuals. They have decreased regulations to favor corporate America, at the expense of actual Americans. They have allowed the invasion of sovereign nations and presided over the deaths of untold thousands of people, all God's creations. They have allowed the president to ignore over 800 laws, illegally wiretap US citizens, and legalize torture. When the Supreme Court ruled against the president, a Supreme Court that he himself installed, the GOP Congress simply sought to pass laws overruling the Judicial Branch of government. This is the fruit the Republican Party has borne with complete control for five years.
The base that the GOP laughingly admits to having is not the evangelicals, but the "haves and have mores." They represent the true base of the Republican Party. They are the ones who have been served over the past five years. They are who Christian America has been sold out for. They are who Christian America have been deceived for. This week George Bush took to the podium with horrifying economic statistics in his hand and did what only he can do, he lied about them. The Republican Party was handed a 284 billion dollar surplus and have turned it into a 248 billion dollar deficit. They have done this with reckless spending in wars that we have no business being in while handing back billions to the richest Americans; hardly a Christian value. Meanwhile five years after 9-11 there remains a gaping hole in the earth in downtown New York City and the man responsible for it allegedly only comes out once every two years on a video to scare Americans into voting GOP, the party that has done nothing to capture him. Faced with the reality that simply saying the economy is doing well does not mean it is, Bush had the hubris to push again for making his tax cuts for the super rich permanent. The problem is that if they had never been passed, the budget would actually be balanced today.
The Christians in America have been used for the past five years. They bought the family values line from people with the moral base of a middle age man discussing masturbation with a 16 year old boy. They sold themselves out for gay marriage and abortion and did not realize that at the same time, they were supporting the party of war and the party of poverty. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and came to preach the Good News to the poor, not a Savior who desires endless bloodshed and the deaths of 30,000 children per day for lack of food and clean drinking water. Healthcare is a Christian value (3John 1:2). Being able to support your family is a Christian value (1timothy 5:8). Being able to live in peace is a Christian value (1Timothy 2: 1-2). Being able to enjoy prosperity is a Christian value (Psalm 112: 1-3).
War without end is not a Christian value (James 3: 17-18). Tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor are not a Christian value (Matthew 25:45). Not obeying over 800 laws is not a Christian value (Leviticus 19:15). Christians have every right to be disappointed at what has happened over the past five years. Their disappointment however, must be tempered with the reality that they got what they bought into. The Republican Party was never truly siding with them. They were using them. They gather some well intended people who truly have a fear of God and point at the other guy. They tell them that he is to blame for the degradation in society and call them the sinner. Christians too often forget that we are all sinners and without Christ's blood we have no righteousness to boast about. They instill the fear of man for the fear of God. They point to a country far away and say that is where evil dwells when evil dwells in the hearts of all men. A line from a movie encapsulates the strategy of the Republican Party, so forgive my embellishment of this but the Republican Party is not the least bit interested in solving the problems facing us as Christians or Americans. They are interested in two things and two things only; making you afraid of it and telling you who is to blame for it. THAT is how you win elections.
You gather a group of Christians together and tell them that they share their beliefs and then call them "nuts" when the cameras are off. They smile for the photo-ops showing how much they care about family values and then refer to one of their own caught soliciting sexual conversations with a 16 year old boy as merely sending "naughty emails." They tell you that Jesus would only care about abortion and gay marriage while they pillage and rape the economy and environment. They assure Christians that they are their base while laughing at fundraisers with their true base. They ignore the true concerns of Christians and the teachings of Christ for 11 out of every 12 months and then every October, they trot themselves out to swear again at the altar of corporatism that they are the party of morality. Christians have a chance this November to affect the elections yet again, but this time for a truly Christian cause. To send a message that their votes are not for sale to the cheapest whore who will say all the right things and then sell them out as soon as the election is over. Christians can go back to the teachings of the Apostle Paul who reminds us in 1Thesselonians 5:21 to, "Test everything. Hold on to the good."
Christians did not test the words and deeds of the party they bought into. They thought they were getting family values and morality and they ended up with Iraq and Mark Foley. They thought they were getting anti abortion and anti gay rights but they ended up with anti-environment and pro-poverty. The last five years were a Christian mistake borne out of ignorance and the hope that someone would finally take a moral stand for what is right. Now however, the deception has unraveled and as Christians, we have no more excuses. No one can look at the last five years and see a shred of Christianity in the fruit the GOP has borne when they have had complete power. No Christian can walk into the voting booth this November and easily pull the lever. The entire platform has been exposed and Christians must come to the disappointing reality that they have been deceived and they have been used. Awareness is always the first step and it portends a decision this November about what to do with the knowledge they now have. Knowledge without application is useless. I leave you my Christian brothers and sisters with the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong."