Does God endorse Bush?

Religion, spirituality, and sacrilege.
Sept. 13 2004 11:29 AM

Heaven Sent

Does God endorse George Bush?

(Continued from Page 1)

Are the White House and the Bush campaign actively encouraging the idea that Bush has been put there by God? Bush has been careful to never say anything close to that in public. And yet the combination of passages in carefully vetted speeches and quotes from close friends or supporters indicate that this is the understanding.

In one sense, it's not surprising that some people believe this. Many, if not most, Americans believe that God intervenes in the lives of humans. If that weren't the case, prayer might be considered superfluous, meaningless. If God intervenes in the affairs of ordinary humans who pray for recovery from illness or a better job, it only stands to reason that He would control something as consequential as an American presidency.

Advertisement

Other presidents certainly believed that God was guiding America's fate. James Madison referred to the "Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations." Andrew Jackson beseeched that "He will continue to make our beloved country the object of His divine care and gracious benediction." Even Thomas Jefferson, considered a Deist, said it was the Supreme Being "who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and ... who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with his wisdom and power."

Yet it's hard to recall another instance of a presidential campaign so confidently promulgating the idea that its candidate had divine endorsement. The potentially dangerous implication is that since God put George W. Bush in the White House, opposing him is opposing Him. A person could get smited for that.

Of course, it's always possible God did put George W. Bush in the White House. But if He did, it doesn't theologically follow that He wants him to have a second term. Even those who believe that God controls world events usually concede it is hard for humans to divine the intent of the Divine.

After all, in the Bible, God is described as doing things for all sorts of inexplicable reasons—sometimes as a reward to the people, and sometimes as a punishment.

Steven Waldman is editor in chief ofBeliefnet, the leading multifaith spirituality and religion Web site.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Dec. 19 2014 4:15 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? Staff writer Lily Hay Newman shares what stories intrigued her at the magazine this week.