I keep hearing things, reading things, from GOP members entering the race for president, and I am bothered.
Michele Bachmann thinks that slavery was probably all right. According to a recent article in the New Yorker she agrees with Steven Wilkins, author of a biography of Robert E Lee, who wrote that the Civil War was a “holy conflict between the godly South and heathen north.” Wilkins’ idea – which Bachmann apparently supports – is that “most southerners strove to treat their slaves with respect and provide them with a sufficiency of goods for a comfortable …existence.” She apparently agrees with Wilkins’ theory that the institution of slavery “bred mutual esteem between races as slaves adopted Christianity.”
Another one of Bachmann’s favorite authors is Frances Schaeffer, a theologian who according to Ryan Lizza, the author of the New Yorker piece, disapproves of just about everything that isn’t defined by evangelical Christianity as being worthy and good.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is now entering the GOP race for the presidential nomination, thinks that the country ought to get back to “biblical principles.” In a report I heard on National Public Radio, Perry thinks that God would want the United States to stop spending all its money, “trying to take care of everyone.” The reporter says that Perry thinks a government taking care of everyone is “slavery.”
What is troubling is not that Perry and Bachmann and probably a lot of the GOP contenders think this way, but that they are playing to a base of people who believe the same way. That being the case, of whom do they propose to govern? Black people, who should understand that slavery wasn’t so bad, that it was a holy institution of some sort? People who love the arts, something that one of Bachmann’s favorite authors decries as being anti-Christian?
What God do these people serve? What Jesus? And how do they propose to govern a pluralistic country when clearly they are only interested in white Christians, and evangelical Christians at that? I heard a news report that said one of the contenders thinks that religious freedom is meant only for Christians. Seriously? I hate to be redundant, but how can a person be a citizen of America and want to govern that same nation, whose legacy is one that celebrates diversity, when it is clear that at least some of the contenders would rather shove diversity to the curb?
Is that what they mean, “Let’s take our country back?” Do they want it to go back to the time when good ol’ white boys had their way, good ol’ rich boys, at that? Is it American to not be concerned with “the least of these?” Doesn’t Christianity say we as believers are supposed to do that? Then what the hell is Governor Perry talking about? He just had a prayer gathering, for goodness’ sake! For whom was he/they praying? For white Christians with money, at the exclusion of white Christians who are struggling? Were they not praying for the black and brown and other minorities of this country who are in need of hope and help? Do the least of these, the struggling masses, not mean anything to these contenders?
I am being very careful to listen, but it is hard stuff to swallow. I shudder to think of what happens to “the rest of us” if any of these GOP contenders win the 2012 election. God bless America, please. Better…God help America!
Just a candid observation …