The Kingdom of God Does Not Arrive on Air Force One

During the Reagan years, when Christian conservatives first were experiencing a modicum of political power, former Nixon aide and evangelical powerhouse Charles Colson warned famously: “The Kingdom of God does not arrive on Air Force One,” and cautioned that politicians play religious leaders like a fiddle (as he did when he was twisting arms for President Nixon).

How is 2004 different than the 1980s? Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative public interest law firm in Washington, D.C., speaking about religious conservatives, said in the Nov. 5 Newsday: “This is not the same movement that we saw in the 1980s. This is a religious resurgence, and also a retooling. This is a much more diverse group of people, united across a broad range of issues.”

This comparison is worth exploring more completely another day.

Now, How Will Bush Govern?

Kim Lawton of PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly asked Joe Loconte of the Heritage Foundation about pressures by the evangelicals on President Bush. Loconte said:

“Surprisingly, I think we are going to see President Bush govern more like a principled pragmatist than many of his critics are right now assuming. They are assuming that he owes his great debt to his religious, conservative base on certain issues and that he is going to push the cultural agenda forward. But I don’t think that’s really Bush’s governing style, ’cause he has shown real restraint on some of these cultural issues, these hot button cultural issues — stem cell research, for example. He was only kind of pulled into the gay marriage debate, somewhat unwillingly. So I think there is going to be much more of a kind of a principled pragmatism to deal with these issues in the next months and years.

[The evangelicals] are certainly going to want to see the president hold the line on embryonic stem cell research — no federal funding for that. Bush has said plainly in the debates, he’s against federal funding for abortion — he’ll hold the line on that. Let’s take Supreme Court judges, where the cultural issues tend to bubble up so much. Bush’s line here has been that he wants judges who will — who know the difference between their own opinions and settled constitutional law. So I don’t think that Bush is going to bring before the court, for example, a judge who would overturn ROE V. WADE. And Bush himself has said he doesn’t think the country is ready for that. So, certainly, Bush is going to hold the line on some of these issues, but I think be very, very cautious about trying to push the cultural agenda much further than where a general consensus of the country is.”

Pro-Bush Writer Finds Herself in Minority

Humorist Judy Gruen tells. Religion News Service: As a journalist and religious Jew, I am not threatened by the basic Christian values of America and of President Bush. I am more threatened by the moral relativism of the left, where third-trimester abortions are coyly framed only as a woman’s “right to choose,” and those who fight to preserve the institution of marriage are called bigots. Most likely, I’ll remain a minority among journalists for my conservative views. But I hope that in the next four years, the good effects that I expect from President Bush’s policies for the entire country will at least make me seem less strange to my colleagues on the left.

Gruen provides interesting perspective on the rough and tumble presidential contest:

“Let’s face it: the presidential election season was rife with accusations of war-mongering, bitter party divisiveness, media bias, fears of election fraud, worries about a tie in the electoral college, and even disputes about how to handle relations with France. All this is true . . . of the presidential election of 1800. In reading David McCullough’s fantastic biography, John Adams, I have been struck by how much history from the earliest years of our nationhood mirrors our own, but in far more extreme measures. In fact, the poisonous atmosphere surrounding the presidential election of 1800 makes what we have seen in the current election seem like a game a whiffle ball. Back in 1800, many Americans worried that the country might not even survive such a bitter election. And yet it did, despite the election ending up a tie in the electoral college, with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr receiving an equal number of votes. Jefferson became president when the vote was sent to the House of Representatives.”

Presidential Faith and Fortitude

This from Rebecca Hagelin at Heritage:

“‘Life is bigger than politics.’ This is an astounding statement from a political figure who has been twice elected as the most powerful man in the world. But it is precisely because the American people know that George Bush understands what is of value that they have given him a mandate and the privilege of power. America knows that for George Bush, being president isn’t about politics … it’s about life itself.

Of course, the faith and fortitude that has come to characterize George Bush was most vividly evident in the days immediately after 9-11. The world saw a president who was calm, determined, resolved and absolutely committed to fighting evil. And the same demeanor has been continuously evident ever since through all the difficult and gut-wrenching days of war and criticism.George Bush is not the world’s best debater or smoothest talker. We all love a great speech, a witty debate, a clever comeback. But what we desire – what we need in this age of uncertainty – is a leader who lives his faith, adheres to core principles and remains steadfast in the face of adversity.”

–James Jewell

About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group ( Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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