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Re: Bush says God chose him to lead his nation

Derek Davis, editor of the important "Journal of Church and State" comments on Stephen Mansfield's, "The Faith of George W. Bush":

"I have read the book and quite a bit of other material on Bush. I think Bush understands his ability to ascertain God s will in the way most evangelicals do by first committing matters to prayer and rational analysis, then weighing impulses, logic, intuition, and having confidence that God will direct according to his will. All of this is pretty subjective, of course, and most of us would say dangerous when it pertains to such important matters as going to war. In an editorial I wrote recently for the Journal of Church and State, I wrote this conclusion about the need for the president to observe our bedrock principle of church-state separation:

If I could tell the president anything, it would be that there is danger in attaching his policies too closely to his personal faith, if in fact that is what he is doing. The Founding Fathers formally and wisely erected a constitutionally non-religious state, a republic whose affairs were not to be pursued according to one man s religious vision. Omitting God s name from the Constitution was intentional on the part of the Founding Fathers, not because they did not look to God providentially to direct the nation, but because they believed that the human person is sacred and that each person's religious conscience can be respected only if the state declares itself incompetent regarding religious matters and leaves religion as much as possible to each individual. Moreover, the decision not to formally place the nation under divine authority, but rather in the hands of the American people, was a novel experiment on the part of the Founders, a bold act virtually unheard of in the late eighteenth-century world, but an act nevertheless calculated to place governmental affairs essentially on a secular level rather than a religious level.

Whatever we do in formulating national and international policy, especially in prosecuting the new war against terrorism, we should stop short of embracing a national faith that uncritically aligns our national interests with the plan and purpose of God. The ability of any world leader to know precisely the will of God is foreign to the Bible.

The Bible speaks of an inscrutable God who often has brought down powerful nations in their prime due to their pride. "It is the high and the low who will be humbled", according to Isaiah 5:15. The same prophet Isaiah also tells us, in Isaiah 23:9: "The Lord planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth".

The temptation to act religiously based on our own fallible interpretations of world events is among the reasons our Constitution wisely mandates a degree of separation between church and state, thus preventing too close an alliance between the interests of religion and government that might harm our great nation. I would hope that President Bush will be wary of the dangers of such an alliance and avoid leading in a way that, intentionally or unintentionally, serves to strengthen the alliance.

Derek's first quote from Isaiah doesn't make sense to me. Why should God humble the low? The actual text reads: "And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled" As the Magnificat says "He hath exalted the humble and meek". He would not humble the low. The separation of church and state does not mean that the President should not follow the dictates of his Christian conscience.

Ronald Hilton - 11.03.03