Virtual Voices

Mixing faith and foreign policy

Religion

President Bush mixed faith and foreign policy this week when he addressed the National Religious Broadcasters, prompting the New York Times to write, "Rarely has the president mixed the language of faith and God so closely with talk of war and terrorism."

Bush spoke of the universality of freedom and couched it in religious terms: "Freedom is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to all humanity. … We undertake this work because we believe that every human being bears the image of our maker. That's why we're doing this. No one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave."

The evangelicals there applauded, but other evangelicals weren't thrilled. Frank Schaeffer used the speech to spin a diatribe against a "born-again president whose miserable presidency was brought into existence by and aided and abetted by the religious right." He bemoaned "eight years of failed Republican/Bush misrule-by-fear," and says seeking the evangelical vote has diminished John McCain.

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On God's Politics, Jim Wallis gives a more measured reply: "We also see the image of God in all those who have become the collateral damage of this awful war, and in the countless American lives snuffed out or broken forever." He issues "A Call to Lament and Repent."

The speech comes as Christianity Today interviews Walter Russell Mead about evangelical influence in foreign policy. Mead argues that the Anglo-American world offers "this idea of faith in the future and optimism, a willingness to embrace change and even stimulate change to make a better world." He cautions, though, that this easily turns into utopianism. He says Christians need to recognize "that humanity is imperfect, that perfection will come only from God, and in God's time and in God's way."

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