Bush’s Choice

  Anyone looking for an indication of how secularized America has become got a very good indication during Monday night's Republican debate. When asked to identify the thinker who had the greatest effect on his life, George W. Bush named Jesus Christ—because, as he put it, "He has changed my heart." The uproar was fast and furious. You would have thought Bush had invoked the Marquis de Sade, or perhaps Larry Flynt. Well, he might have been better off had he named either one. The New York Times found a Bishop to denounce Bush's choice. Superlawyer Alan Dershowitz went on television to complain that Bush's answer was totally out of line. Columnist Maureen Dowd sniffed that Bush had played "the Jesus card." The chorus of critics sang from the same hymnal. Bush had spoken the forbidden name in American politics. We should not be surprised, I suppose, by this hand-wringing and outrage from the chattering class who dispense wisdom to the great unwashed masses from their perches inside the Washington beltway. But how was Mr. Bush supposed to answer the question? The single most important thing you can know about anyone is the priorities he sets for himself in life. What does he value most? Knowing that a man or woman is a believer in Jesus Christ tells you about his or her priorities. It gives you the most crucial information about that person. If you know that a candidate has, for example, strong religious convictions, that alone tells you a great deal about his character, his view of family life, and his views on social issues, as well as his compassion for others. The press is decrying the injection of religion into the campaign, but I'd put it another way: What if the candidate had a medical condition, say a heart condition, and refused to give truthful answers about it? The press and the public would be outraged that he withheld crucial information. And it's a fair parallel since, spiritually speaking, Bush does have a new heart. Just as Bush's answer was entirely proper, the question which it answered was entirely appropriate. The American public has come to expect a full airing of a candidate's views, health, and behavior. And who's views he happens to believe in is critically important. Most certainly we'd want to know if he'd been influenced in any way by a hater like Adolph Hitler. So why would some recoil when he answers the Prince of Peace? The answer, I'm afraid, is all too clear. The forces of secularization are so determined to marginalize Christian belief that they would rather a presidential candidate lie than publicly confess his faith. The uproar sends a clear message: Profess Christianity at your peril. The forces that seek to marginalize Christianity desire nothing less than to make the love of Christ the love that dare not speak its name. Well, things really have come to a pretty pass when a candidate's talking about his core values can spark a controversy this great. And this one is especially ironic, as we stand on the threshold of the new millennium, Anno Domine 2000. That is, 2,000 years since the birth of our Lord in a stable in Bethlehem. My word to the inside-the-Beltway crowd is: Calm down. Take a deep breath. It's a holiday, after all! Go home, drink your eggnog, and relax. And oh yes, don't forget to celebrate what the season is all about—the birth of Jesus.


Chuck Colson



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