Friday, October 07, 2005

Church and state and war

George W. Bush has not hidden the fact that he is a religious man. Regardless of his past (drinking and carousing about), he seems pretty sincere about his religious affiliations. And while I definitely want a moral and ethical person in office, and further want someone who is not anti-religion, I am more than a little concerned how much "W" puts his religion into his policy-making.

There is a recent report (which you can read here at the Independent) that George W. has claimed God told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Naturally, the White House denies such statements as false, which comes as no surprise. Most people do not want a war president taking his orders from God. No, they would feel more comfortable with a president taking orders from our enemies, like China (thank you, Mr. Clinton!). But I understand the concern. A war has been declared, between a Middle-Eastern religion and a Western religion, much like the wasteful crusades of the past. And what was gained by those crusades? A lot of bloodshed and resentment that we can still see today.

Bush can believe what he wants, of course. However, whether he claims to have heard the voice of God directly (not as likely, but possible), or just feels he is a messenger who kills in God's name (more likely), it is the same. The decisions being made are not going to be in the best interest of the nation.

As a Latter-Day Saint, I have read enough history of how things work in a theocracy. I don't think I would have enjoyed living under the shadow of Brigham Young's controlling fist. This nation was founded for freedom of religion (among other reasons), and that means freedom from having a national religion forced on everyone. I think it should also mean freedom from having national policy made for quasi-religious (and barely justifiable reasons).

I did not support the war in Iraq, but I support the young men and women who are willing to fight for our country, even in wasteful wars that they don't believe in. There are times when war is justified. To right a grave wrong, such as Hitler. To protect freedom, such as the cold war. To retaliate when others attack us, as in World War II again, or after 9/11. I support a nation's right to defend her borders, (although our government is not doing enough of that (have you seen southern California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico lately?). But our "reasons" for going to Iraq changed constantly. I was truly surprised we didn't fine weapons of mass destruction, but only because I expected there to be evidence planted (yes, that's the cynic in me talking).

On this subject, I would say one thing more. Separation of church and state does not mean we divorce ourselves from the very principals upon which our nation's laws were founded. Whether we like it or not, our laws are based on the ten commandments and Judeo-Christian tradition. It was out of that tradition that the concept of a free nation for all was born. Sure, we have made mistakes as a nation, but we have so much capacity for good. Let us embrace all that is good, from whatever source it may come, but not forget the lessons we have learned in the past. The ten commandments do not cover everything, by any means, but they are a good place to start and they are where our nation's morals did start.


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