The Republicans talk a lot about prayer, a natural off-shoot of their tendency to talk about God. If there was any lingering doubt about the Grand Old Party having become God’s Own Party, the 2008 elections should have dispelled it, and the lead-up to the 2010 midterms have only cemented the new Republican focus.
Sharron Angle said, “I believe that God has been in this from the beginning and because of that when he has a plan and a purpose for your life and you fit into that, what he calls you to he always equipped you for.”
God apparently equipped her with everything but answers. But Angle is the latest, not the first.
Sarah Palin isn’t the first either, but she is by far the most written about. Running for VP back in 2008, and a potential candidate for 2012 and would-be kingmaker and self-styled spokesperson of the Tea Party, offered this nugget:
“As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way.”
“And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “Oh Lord, if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said, “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”
She thought her success was due to God. But this is not a personal thing. For Sarah Palin, it is national. God favors the U.S.A.
At the Wasilla Assembly of God church in 2008, Palin said, “Our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God, that’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan.”
She thought so as the election loomed too. In an interview with James Dobson she said,
To me, it motivates us, makes us work that much harder. And it also strengthens my faith because I know at the end of the day putting this in God’s hands, the right thing for America will be done, at the end of the day on Nov. 4.
She’s not alone, obviously, in feeling this way. George W. Bush himself styled his brace of 2003 wars a “Crusade” and felt that his own election had been divine providence. One of his generals, William Boykin, felt the same way, claiming that God, not the American people, had elected Bush. But Boykin went farther: “The enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan. And if you do not believe that Satan is real, you are ignoring the same Bible that tells you about God.”
And here we thought we were fighting Saddam Hussein, or perhaps al Qaeda.
People have a right to believe what they will, or nothing at all. The Constitution (for now) still guarantees that. But it is a little disturbing to think of the nuclear football falling into the hands of somebody who thinks God wants them to get all “Old Testament” on another country.
I mean, we at least like to think our leaders (and their generals) can accurately identify the enemy. And Boykin’s “demonic presence” and “forces of darkness” are a little too vague for me. In fact, such words ought to send shivers down our spins.
I’m all right with people praying. It doesn’t hurt me. As Thomas Jefferson said, “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
But I don’t want my government run on prayer. And we have a surfeit of prayer these days and a lack of answers. We want our political leaders to address the issues that matter most to us, and we want them not only to listen but to give us answers. Prayer is a cheap answer, isn’t it?
“We’ll pray about that,” “Let’s pray about that…” These aren’t answers. These are substitutions for answers, implying that you have no answers, like the vague “God works in mysterious ways.”
Yes, but our political system does not. It’s cut and dried, spelled out in detail in the Constitution of the United States of America. It is not, significantly, found in the Bible. And God and the Bible are nowhere mentioned in the Constitution.
So how about addressing the issues. Rather than assuring us that “God will do the right thing” or that prayer will save our country, how about telling me what you intend to do about it? The Republican base may be titillated by thoughts that a candidate has a private line to God, and many of them seem to think so (Palin, Bachman, O’Donnell, Angle and others), but I think the majority of the American public are more like me, skeptical of claims of divine support.
It’s hard to find a Tea Party candidate who doesn’t say God chose them to run. It’s enough to make you wonder what God has against this country. I’m no atheist by golly. I mean, I believe in more gods than Sarah Palin does, but atheism would be almost a relief after all this God-talk.
Enough prayer. Show us the answers. We are going to the voting booth on November 2; we are not going to church. It’s time that distinction was clearly understood.
Or better yet: Pray, Republicans, by all means, pray. The rest of us will go to the voting booth and cast our votes, because we know that prayer will not reduce the price of gasoline at the pumps, and we know that your God does not elect our presidents.
If you really think God is on your side, take this challenge: You cast your prayer in the box shown above, and we will drop ours in the ballot box.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.