Second Thought: Friday, September 29, 2004
‘The earth belongs to Halliburton, and the fulness thereof.’
Hijacking Jesus

Believers — and other voters — might want to compare the rhetoric to the reality.


Leaders of more than 50 nations gathered last week at the United Nations to discuss world poverty and the rising gap between rich and poor. President Bush was conspicuously absent. This “born again” president, who talks constantly about his relationship to Jesus Christ, skipped the meetings about helping poor people, but showed up to address the general assembly and brag about the war.

When a non-binding agreement was reached to try to help the more than one billion people who live on less than a dollar a day, Bush didn’t sign it. It must have sounded like a bad deal for corporations, and we all know that God is more interested in big business than in poor people.

He didn’t sign the Kyoto accord either, because he has discussed global warming with God, and knows that it’s all a socialist plot against big oil and free trade. He and Jesus must have had a talk recently about assault weapons and decided between them that every God-fearing man and woman who wants one should be able to own a machine gun, because an armed disciple is a safe disciple.

By rolling back years of bi-partisan environmental law designed to protect the earth which the Psalmist said belongs to the Lord, Bush has given the biblical concept of “stewardship” a new twist. “The earth belongs to Halliburton, and the fulness thereof.”

While everyone is arguing about the USA PATRIOT Act, there is another serious threat to the very soul of the nation that is getting far less attention: The Sermon-on-the-Mount-Suspension Act.

In a high-level, secret meeting at an undisclosed location, Bush and Cheney met secretly with the Lord (Bush, to his credit, did not want to have to answer questions put to him by Jesus alone). Cheney did most of the talking, and although not even the minutes of that meeting are available to the public, it was decided that faith, from now on, means that the president and God will take turn winking at each other.

Whenever the Lord says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” Bush will wink and say, “But not the mineral rights!” And then the two of them will laugh all the way to the bank.

If the Lord says, “Pray for your enemies and those who persecute you,” Bush will flash that Texas smirk, that gnostic grin, and say, “I’m all for prayer, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t love a terrorist who has a bomb strapped to his chest.” And Jesus will say, “What was I thinking?”

Whenever Jesus says, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” Bush will say that’s fine for Sunday school, but Lee Atwater had a better gospel, and he taught it to my daddy: Seek and destroy, before they seek and destroy you. This includes actual war heroes and triple amputees.”

When the Lord says be humble, don’t pray in public to be heard by other men, and remember that giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is the essence of faith, Bush will shrug those mighty shoulders and remind the Lord that humility can be confused with weakness, public prayer can be particularly effective in the swing states, and private sector water for children is dandy, but “leave no child untested” is the true meaning of love.

That’s when the meeting turned sour, and Jesus got concerned. He reminded Bush that he once stopped an execution in progress, reversing “an eye for an eye.” Then the former Texas governor got a tad impatient himself and started lecturing Jesus on coddling criminals. “What about forgiveness?” said the Lord? “Overrated,” quipped Bush.

That’s when Jesus got up and walked out.

Maybe it’s time we all walk out.

Dr. Robin Meyers has been senior minister at the Mayflower United Church of Christ of Oklahoma City since 1985, and is a professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.

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