October 2, 2008

"The power of God is such that even in the legislative process miracles can happen."

What do you think of a U.S. President saying such a thing?

67 comments:

Triangle Man said...

Seems like a typical sort of comment for a US politician to make.

Triangle Man said...

No, wait... I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!

Justin said...

I cringe no matter who says it.

Synova said...

Let me guess... he's talking about congress coming to an agreement, right?

To quote Miracle Max... "It'd take a miracle!"

AJ Lynch said...

That was way too easy Althouse.

mcg said...

As long as it's a Democrat saying it, no problem.

mcg said...

(joke)

SteveR said...

Put it this way (and I know who said it) coming from certain people it would viewed as a sign of the end of the First Amendment.

But just in case anybody is wondering, it wasn't GWB talking about last night.

Simon said...

I think that I don't understand why it would merit an establishment clause tag. Who could possibly think such a comment even implicated the clause, let alone violated it?

Triangle Man said...

Incidentally, the linked story about the passage of the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" was a big deal in south Florida. I recall that many local ordinances against sacrificing animals (not moose) in religious ceremonies were challenged as a result.

chickenlittle said...

Well I guess some here would have had his remark censured, if it was based on belief.

Justin said...

From the article:

The new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, overturns a 1990 Supreme Court ruling that set a looser standard for laws that restrict religious practices.

That ruling, Employment Division v. Smith, abandoned a long accepted principle of constitutional interpretation that required ...


Emphasis mine.

If the ruling was on constitutional grounds, how can a law overturn it? A thought a law could only overturn a ruling on a statutory issue. Am I missing something?

Born Again Democrat said...

Abe Lincoln said that. Or was it Bob Dylan?

Rich B said...

Ann-

What brought this up?

Simon said...

Justin, note the dateline of the article. A few years later, the Supreme Court said exactly what you just said about RFRA in City of Boerne v. Flores.

Oligonicella said...

"What do you think of a U.S. President saying such a thing?"

Um, that the POTUS was religious and being sarcastic?

Apathetic Citizen said...

We need a miracle every day.

Buffett told Charlie Rose a day or so ago that the recession would continue at minimum another six months and possibly as long as five years. He also says present policies will heighten inflation in the long term. He compared what is happening today to Pearl Harbor.

It's real, and it won't go away.

Simon said...

Clarification: City of Boerne said that insofar as RFRA applied to the states (the problem was that it didn't fall into Congress' 14th amendment remedial power). RFRA remains good law as a limit on federal activities, as in the O Centro Espirita case (Althouse wrote about that here and here.)

Sofa King said...

Justin: It's because the issue was in fact statutory. The question was how "sensitive" the law had to be to religious burdens, and the court decided "not very." As I recall, the court didn't rule that the legislature couldn't show some deference to religions, just that it didn't have to. That doesn't preclude the law being more sensitive anyways, if the legistlature wants to do that.

It's a bad choice of words from the journalist (wow, shocked, I know) to describe it as "overturning" the ruling. It would be more accurate to say that it obviated the ruling, or responded to the ruling, or something like that.

Peter V. Bella said...

President Clinton could say whatever he wanted. None dared criticize him for the wrath of the press was mighty.

I find it amusing that the passed a law based on the fact that SCOTUS said it is legal to fire a dope user from a drug rehab clinic.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That he thinks it's going to take an effing miracle to get these bozos in Congress to work together or to actually come up with a bill that isn't garbage.

Or that it is going to take divine intervention to get us out of the swamp we have made for ourselves.

I think so too.

Peter V. Bella said...

Correction; Deny unemplyment benefits to a drug user fired from a drug rehab clinic.

AlphaLiberal said...

I think "pander-riffic!"

Triangle Man said...

That he thinks it's going to take an effing miracle to get these bozos in Congress to work together or to actually come up with a bill that isn't garbage.

They may have been bozos, but they were mostly his bozos. In 1993 we had a D president a D House and a D Senate.

Ann Althouse said...

"What brought this up?"

Class prep. I'm teaching the subject.

Harwood said...

Consider the statement with the prepositional phrase omitted: The power of God is such that ... miracles can happen.

Can you think of a president who would not affirm that statement? And what, precisely, is wrong with a believer -- even a president -- applying that belief to the legislative process?

Mind you, I don't believe in God. But it is so tiresome to hear "liberal minded" people wax amazed and indignant when theists express their beliefs. Where is all that liberal tolerance for diversity?

Donn said...

Of course, a Democrat can get away with saying that, but let a conservative Republican say something similar and the leftist in the media and the blogs would say this is more evidence that the "Christianists" have taken over the Republican Party.

AlphaLiberal said...

Donn, I criticized Clinton for it, above.

A Christianist is one who has a political ideology with Christianity as the central organizing feature.

Clinton does not qualify as a Christianist as he believes in a secular state that protects freedom of religion for all, not just certain types of Christians.

Alex said...

Alpha - cite me one writing/speech where GWB said Christianity was his organizing principle for society. Put up or shut up.

Pogo said...

Whatever "central organizing feature" means.

For the anti-religious, it usually means has no effect on your life outside of church, and attendance should be limited to weddings and funerals.

Michael said...

Donn said..."Of course, a Democrat can get away with saying that, but let a conservative Republican say something similar and the leftist in the media and the blogs would say this is more evidence that the "Christianists" have taken over the Republican Party."

So, you think Clinton was being overly religious or even serious?

I'd have to guess he was just taking advantage of the situation to throw a jab at Congress.

Justin said...

Simon/Sofa,

Thanks for the explanations.

Stupe said...

"in 1982, when Tom Bradley, the black mayor of Los Angeles -- whom polls put ahead of his rival for California governor right up to voting day -- lost by barely 52,000 votes out of 7.5 million cast?

The Bradley effect has come to mean this: Voters lie to pollsters about black candidates, and enough of them lie to create a huge gap between poll results and election results. The Bradley effect asserts that when Americans finally get into the voting booth and see the black candidate's name on the ballot, they flinch. "

MadisonMan said...

I'm thinking he's tweaking the Legislative branch

Brent said...

President John F Kennedy

February 9, 1961


"Keeping in mind that "when a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him," let us go forth to lead this land that we love, joining in the prayer of General George Washington in 1783, "that God would have you in His holy protection, that He would incline the hearts of the citizens . . . . to entertain a brotherly love and affection one for another . . . and finally that He would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with . . . the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, without an humble imitation of whose example we can never hope to be a happy nation.

The guiding principle and prayer of this Nation has been, is now, and shall ever be "In God We Trust."

chuck b. said...

I'm prepared to treat people who believe in God with dignity and respect.

Triangle Man said...

pogo said...

For the anti-religious, it usually means has no effect on your life outside of church, and attendance should be limited to weddings and funerals.


For Episcopalians you can add attendance at Christmas and Easter.

Did I do that right Ann? Tweaking Episcopalians, that is.

PatCA said...

It doesn't matter, because we know Democrats don't really believe in God and are just pandering.

Larry said...

Clinton is a Democrat (among other things).

How is this quotation relevant today?

blake said...

That he was being funny and accurate.

I would not, however, assume that he was religious in any way.

Michael said...

Alex: Here are a few examples that should give you a pretty good idea where George W. Bush is coming from:

1. Lapp Electric Service plant in Smoketown, Pennsylvania / July 16, 2004:

There, waiting to talk to Mr. Bush, was a group of about 60 local Amish, one of whom had made a quilt for the visiting President. Mr. Bush shook a few hands, tried on a straw hat, and then made his announcement to the small crowd.

"God speaks through me," he said.

2. The book, The Faith of George W. Bush, was written by Christian author Stephen Mansfield. It details numerous incidents where Bush's faith has been shown to be at the centre of his political thinking.

The book also shows that in the lead-up to announcing his candidacy for the presidency, Bush told a Texan evangelist that he had had a premonition of some form of national disaster happening.

Bush said to James Robinson: 'I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen... I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it.'

3. The BBC on Thursday released an excerpt from an interview with Palestinian information minister Nabil Shaath that was part of a series called "Israel and the Arabs".

Shaath described his first meeting, in company with Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, in June 2003.

He said that President Bush said to all of them: "I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me: 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.' And I did.

"And then God would tell me: 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.'

"And I did.

"And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me: 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.'

"And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

Abu Mazen told the BBC that, at the same meeting, Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."

Joe said...

This happened 15 years ago; who the hell cares?

Michael said...

PatCA said..."It doesn't matter, because we know Democrats don't really believe in God and are just pandering."

And there ya go...

Michael said...

MadisonMan said..."I'm thinking he's tweaking the Legislative branch."

Of course.

Dody Jane said...

Ah! The good lo' days when were weren't ashamed of our Judeo-Christian roots...

PatCA said...

Well, Michael, do you think Bill Clinton is religious, obeys a moral code?

rhhardin said...

It's unexceptional; take ``Be like Him'' as the imperative implied in every fact about God, and the power of such (ethical) forces is such that even lying cheating crooks like Congressmen are sometimes moved to the correct action.

This, when it happens, is called a miracle, the working of God.

Robt said...

It depends on if you believe that George Bush holds the belief that God intervenes in modern events, in the same way that God, in the Torah, sends Abraham to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice Isaac and then sends angels to stay Abraham's hand. Does George Bush believe that his Christianity is an ethical framework that guides his actions, or does he believe that God intervened to avert a financial catastrophe?
Does he believe, like James Dobson, that a literalist reading of the Old Testament should be the foundation of civic society, or that the US government plays a role in a millenialist, end times scenario which he, as president, must play a role? If that's the case, yah, that's a problem for me.

Pogo said...

"It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."
George Washington

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor.”
George Washington

"That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Abraham Lincoln


"Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. "

Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944

Alex said...

Alpha - if Bush is an unacceptable Christianist, then so was FDR.

Pogo said...

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for a
government of any other."

John Adams

"The Bible is the rock upon which our republic rests."
Andrew Jackson

"A community where men have abandoned and scoffed at or ignored their religious needs, is a
community on the rapid downgrade."

Theodore Roosevelt

"For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago... And yet the same revolutionary belief for which our forbears fought is still at issue around the globe, the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God."
John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Robt said...

Pogo--

So?

Appeals to God notwithstanding, I find it hard to believe that all of those men had the same conception of God or God's role in the secular life of the nation. I can't think of anyone who disputes that historically appeals to God are powerful political rhetoric. But whether some part of the Christian community's belief that the US government is an extension of their theology ought to drive the politics of the nation, well...

You might just as well offer up a list of baseball players who regular perform the sign of the cross during an at bat and point to the heavens after a home run to show that God has some interest in the American League playoff series.

Alex said...

robot - pogo just proved to you that GW Bush is not out of the mainstream of US Presidents. That you insist so is your overwhelming bias.

Simon said...

Michael said...
"Mansfield ... details numerous incidents where Bush's faith has been shown to be at the centre of his political thinking."

Ah, the traditional liberal idiocy that politics and faith can be seperated. Are you suggesting that Christians should not place their faith at the center of their political thinking? What should be instead? I would submit that if your faith isn't in large part governing your life (to the extent that your faith seeks to govern your life, that is - as Scalia has said, there's no catholic way to make a hamburger) you may not be taking your faith seriously enough.

Pogo said...

"whether some part of the Christian community's belief that the US government is an extension of their theology ought to drive the politics of the nation, well..."

You just made that shit up, didn't you? Cause it don't mean nothin'.

PatCA said...

"But whether some part of the Christian community's belief that the US government is an extension of their theology ought to drive the politics of the nation, well...

Don't look now--but those people have taken over and slipped their nefarious ideas into law!

Robt said...

Pogo and Alex--
Let me rephrase-- typo-- apologies

"whether some part of the Christian community's belief that the US government is an extension of its theology AND ought to drive the politics of the nation, well..."

All Pogo has shown is that some interpretation of a Christian God has been a part of American political life. He's also managed to beg the pertinent issue, which concerns the extent to which a particular theology becomes the basis for governance.

Let's set aside whether Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt, Adams and Kennedy all thought they were going to meet the same Maker and would have considered their views of God and government similar to each other or to George Bush.

Bush has associated himself, whether for political expedience or out of personal belief with Christians who believe very different things about the relationship between God and government than anyone you quote. I respect his faith-- clearly his faith God enabled him to quit drinking and grow up, as he himself has said. But the importance of personal faith is not what has complicated the role of religion in American political life in the last three decades.

Paddy O. said...

From my perspective sitting in the library of a seminary, it's pretty clear that was said tongue in cheek, making a joke about partisanship, and how it takes a miracle to overcome, not making a claim for God.

The emphasis is on the legislative process in that comment. Invoking God makes a sad situation funny and positive given the accomplishment.

There's a whole category of churchy humor, and this is an example of one.

Robt said...

patca--

Why assume that I have some fear of Christians or Christianity, or believe something nefarious takes place when religious thought guides ethical or civic debate?

Nothing I've said questions the importance of personal faith in American life-- but it remains and should remain a persistent question about what interpretation of faith guides law.

Donn said...

Robt:
Bush has associated himself, whether for political expedience or out of personal belief with Christians who believe very different things about the relationship between God and government than anyone you quote.

While I agree with some of your comments (i.e. quotes don't mean a lot), I am curious about your statement above. How do you think Bush has been different from other politicians in this regard?

Michael said...

Simon: I have no problem with "faith" being an important part of decision making by a President, I just don't want it to be "at the center of political thinking."

There's a difference.

*And if he or she were basing their decisions on have "atheism" at the center...would that be okay with you, too?

Dudley Do-right said...

A prime example of why I can't ever stay mad at Dubya. I know he means it.

Pogo said...

"He's also managed to beg the pertinent issue, which concerns the extent to which a particular theology becomes the basis for governance."

It depends on what you mean by 'basis for governance', doesn't it?

That can mean anything from Christianity informing your important decisions to Islam demanding subjugation.

You throw a perty wide net there, pardner.

blake said...

as Scalia has said, there's no catholic way to make a hamburger

Which is entirely different from saying "there's no Jewish way to make a ham sandwich".

Pogo said...

And, hell, I warn't beggin' no issues.

Michael posted some quotes by Bush, so I posted some posts by other Presidents.

I made no comment about the quotes at all; you drew your own conclusions and attributed some conclusions to me that I never stated at all.

TMink said...

My new friend Harwood wrote: "But it is so tiresome to hear "liberal minded" people wax amazed and indignant when theists express their beliefs. Where is all that liberal tolerance for diversity?"

I think you have been paying attention to their words rather than their actions. But I appreciate your tolerence for my spirituality, I promise to return the favor friend.

Thanks.

Trey

Oligonicella said...

Micheal --

*And if he or she were basing their decisions on have "atheism" at the center...would that be okay with you, too?

It certainly ought to be.