Do Not Fear G-d
Admission: I voted for President Bush. (I hear
the murmuring). But it was not a vote for Bush as much as
it was a vote against someone else.
That someone was not John Kerry.
My vote was against the liberal establishment of the East
and West Coasts that showed utter contempt for faith in
G-d – my faith and the faith of millions of others.
And I believe (faith, again) that I am not alone. I submit
that the election was determined by one key factor: Americans
simply could not tolerate the relentless attack we have
been witnessing against the faith of Mr. Bush – not
because they support the President and all his policies,
but because in the American consciousness there is a profound
sense that faith cannot be so utterly discredited.
The icing on the cake was a New York Times Magazine cover
story a few weeks ago (Without a Doubt, by Ron Suskind)
depicting Mr. Bush as a man whose decisions are determined
not through reason and political process, but through Divine
He describes the support for or against Bush as a battle
between modernists and fundamentalists, pragmatists and
true believers, reason and religion. He quotes Bruce Bartlett,
a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and a treasury
official for the first President Bush: The instinct President
Bush is “always talking about is this sort of weird,
Messianic idea of what he thinks God has told him to do.
He truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith
like that overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing
about faith is to believe things for which there is no empirical
evidence. But you can't run the world on faith.”
Give me a break. George W. is a politician not a saint.
He climbed the ladder of power through political machinations
not religious ones. I’ve seen a tzaddik. Bush is no
tzaddik. Yet, ironically, many in the media have turned
Bush into a man of absolute faith, and Kerry into a man
Once the liberal press painted the picture in this radical
fashion, pitting the election as one for or against G-d,
the people of faith in this country came out in-masse to
vote for faith.
Not that Mr. Bush is necessarily a man of G-d. Frankly,
I find it quite hilarious that the left have made Bush into
a Divine man. Why Bush earned that right, only G-d knows.
But he has. And that is to his credit. Perhaps it is
due to his faith.
But the issue here is not about President Bush. It’s
about faith. This country is fundamentally built on the
principle etched into our currency: In G-d we Trust. And
that’s what this election was ultimately about.
I am cynical enough to not believe in the personalities
and personality cults created around candidates. In this
mass media, “sound-bite” era, you can only feel
sad at the way politicians are marketed, how the campaigns
are geared to manipulate our impressions, not much different
than the marketing of, say, toothpaste. So, one can hardly
expect to know what candidates truly stand for.
Americans in particular like to root for heroes –
in sports, in entertainment, and why not in politics. People
therefore forge personal allegiances to the candidates,
projecting upon them their own lives, just as they may fantasize
about movie stars. Heroes and villains are easily created,
and then perpetuated. For some Bush is almost like a Nazi.
For others Bush is the hero and Kerry the selfish liberal.
Frankly, all marketing clichés. Don’t buy into all
the messages sold to us through multi-million dollar PR
On a serious note, however, getting beyond the cheers and
the cries following the election results, I for one am not
taking a stand – pro-Bush or pro-Kerry. They both
have their flaws. This article is not meant to support or
criticize the President. It’s meant to address a larger
issue that has emerged.
What will go down in history, long after Bush and Kerry
are forgotten, is the consensus. Close to 60 million people
made a statement that they want G-d in their lives.
By no means does this suggest, that the other 55 million
voters voted against faith and G-d; everyone has their right
to believe (or not believe) as they see fit. And undoubtedly many
people of faith voted against Bush for good reasons. Indeed,
some may even have seen in Kerry a deeper commitment to
religious freedom. A vote for Bush does not mean a vote
for G-d (as Carl Rove would want us to believe). The point
here is to understand what compelled so many to come out
and vote for Bush, even if they disagree with him and his
When America is challenged, when it is under duress and
in crisis, it gravitates to its roots: That we are here
because of Divine providence; that all men are created equal,
which guarantees us unalienable rights. Take away G-d, and
you take away the unalienable rights. Because “rights”
on their own are alienable, subjective and arbitrary. And
that’s what the election was ultimately about.
The attacks on Mr. Bush’s faith forced the American public
to respond. It’s quite amazing to hear that a majority in
the state of Ohio chose to overlook the loss of thousands
of their jobs, and instead voted on the grounds of moral
values and character. What does that tell you?
It will be fascinating to see how the New York Times will
cover this. Don’t be at all surprised to hear how
some, in their ongoing contempt, will continue to dismiss
the morality issue and argue that people were basically
hoodwinked; or that the war in Iraq caused people to support
the incumbent; or some other excuse how the public was manipulated
to elect Mr. Bush.
All you have to do is read Gary Wills article, The Day
the Enlightenment Went Out, in the Times of November 4th.
He attributes Bush’s victory to the brilliance of Carl Rove.
Rove “calculated that the religious conservatives, if they
could be turned out, would be the deciding factor. Mr. Rove
understands what surveys have shown, that many more Americans
believe in the Virgin Birth than in Darwin's theory of evolution.”
He goes on to explain that America, with its “fundamentalist
zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear
of and hatred for modernity” resembles Al Qaeda and
Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists more than it does the European
countries. And that’s why “the rest of the world
thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious
to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose
zeal is being expressed.”
Based on this logic, of course, the majority of Americans
elected Mr. Bush because they are narrow-minded fundamentalists,
who have extinguished the “enlightenment.”
Some liberals will never concede the possibility that people
authentically believe in G-d, and that this faith may have
Interestingly, it’s these liberals that forced people to
suddenly confront the issue of G-d – as if Bush was G-d’s
representative, and the other side was not. Bigggg mistake.
Had they not been so vehement and contemptuous they may
have had a victory…
And what about the power of a majority – one of the
cornerstones of a democracy?
I have a friend who was waxing eloquent about the beauty
of democracy. Confident in Kerry’s victory, he was
lauding the strength and virtue of majority rule. “It’s
the people – the majority of the people – that
ultimately decides. Numbers never lie.” After Kerry’s
loss by close to 4 million of the popular vote, this friend
tells me in a deriding tone: “What can we do about
the fact that America has been taken hostage by the narrow
minded “religious right,” and Bush’s campaign
has brainwashed the South and the Midwest?”…
What happened to the power of majority? Is the majority
only right when they agree with YOU?!
I can’t but help wonder whether the liberal movement today
is just an outgrowth of the French Enlightenment’s disdain
for "la canaille” [the rabble], a phrase
used to denigrate the masses.
“As for the canaille,” Voltaire told d'Alembert,
“I have no concern with it; it will always remain canaille.”
And it would remain canaille because it was uneducable.
The people would never have “the time and the capacity
to instruct themselves; they will die of hunger before they
become philosophers.... We have never pretended to enlighten
shoemakers and servants; that is the job of the apostles.”
The thinkers of the Parisian Enlightenment felt that the
people could not be educated because they could not be enlightened;
and they could not be enlightened because they were incapable
of the kind of reason that the philosophes took to
be the essence of enlightenment. They were mired instead
in the prejudices, superstitions, and irrationalities of
religion. This was the great enemy - l'infâme. Religion,
Voltaire wrote to Diderot, “must be destroyed among
respectable people and left to the canaille large
and small, for whom it was made.” Diderot agreed.
The poor were “imbeciles” in matters of religion,
“too idiotic - bestial - too miserable, and too busy”
to enlighten themselves. They would never change: “The
quantity of the canaille is just about always the
Diderot made it clear that “the general mass of mankind
can neither follow nor comprehend this march of the human
spirit.” “We must reason about all things because
man is not just an animal but an animal who reasons; ...
whoever refuses to search for that truth renounces the very
nature of man and should be treated by the rest of his species
as a wild beast; and once the truth has been discovered,
whoever refuses to accept it is either insane or wicked
and morally evil.” Diderot believed that we must distrust
the judgment of the “multitude” in matters of
reason and philosophy because “its voice is that of
wickedness, stupidity, inhumanity, unreason and prejudice.”
“The multitude,” he concluded, is “ignorant
Is this obnoxious elitism the root of today’s liberal
paternalism and the welfare state, as Gertrude Himmelfarb
argues in a new book, The Roads to Modernity?
After reading and hearing the passionate arguments being
made against the faith-based presidency of Mr. Bush, you
wonder who is more fundamentalist: the faithful or the men
of “reason”? Edward Gibbon, the 18th
century British historian (far from an orthodox religious
believer) jibed against those French thinkers who “preached
the tenets of atheism with the bigotry of dogmatists.”
In another article (The Idea of Compassion: The British
vs. the French Enlightenment) Himmelfarb
quotes Tocqueville, who was speaking of the French revolutionaries
- but he might have been of the philosophes - when
he said that their “salient characteristic”
was a loss of faith that upset their “mental equilibrium.”
They adored the human intellect and had supreme confidence
in its power to transform laws, institutions, and customs.
But the intellect they adored was only their own. “I
could mention several,” Tocqueville sardonically observed,
“who despised the public almost as heartily as they
despised the Deity.” This was very different, he added,
from the respect shown by Englishmen and Americans for the
opinions of the majority of their countrymen. “Their
intellect is proud and self-reliant, but never insolent;
and it has led to liberty, while ours has done little but
invent new forms of servitude.”
Have some Americans regressed to the French form of so-called
Truth be told, I have both a skeptic and believer inside
of me. But just as I don’t allow the believer to silence
the skeptic, I also don’t allow the skeptic to invalidate
the believer. That would be driven neither by reason, skepticism
or faith; it would be plain dishonest.
One can fully understand the paranoia and fear of a religious
right taking control and dogmatically imposing their religious
positions. After all, over the last two millennia hundreds
of thousands of people were slaughtered in the name of religion.
The intolerance, tyranny and oppression of the church, ruling
with absolute authority had created a “religious fatigue,”
which, coupled with the advancements in open-minded reason
and science, finally came to a climax with the “enlightenment”
and the powerful rebellion against religion and religious
authority (at least in its formal form).
And today we don’t need any historical reminders of the
destruction wreaked in the name of religion. Fundamentalist
Muslims have waged bloody war against the infidels of the
West – essentially a replay of the Christian Crusades of
the first millennium.
In light of all this, the resistance to religious control
by government is quite understandable. Indeed, the powerful
fear is in direct proportion to the intensity of church
control and the millions of gallons of blood shed in the
name of religion for so many years. After being so severely
burned by corruption and abuse, there exists, for good reason,
a deep embedded suspicion of any governmental authority
advocating religious beliefs.
Thus, the severe reaction to President Bush and his faith
However, we must never allow our own fears (even legitimate
ones) to cloud our vision. Abuse has the power to cause
us to “throw out the baby with the bathwater,”
and run away even from healthy experiences. How many people
avoid committed relationships because they have been hurt
by loved ones?
The true challenge is to know how to embrace the power
of faith – even after we experienced its abuse –
and distinguish between healthy faith and unhealthy faith.
The Founding Fathers were all too aware of religious abuse.
Hence, the separation of Church and State. Yet, their brilliance
was the realization that they cannot allow years of abuse
to distort mans’ healthy beliefs. Thus, the same framers
of the constitutional separation between religion and government,
also began the Declaration of Independence with the words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The nation’s founders understood that without a Creator
who created us all equally, “unalienable rights” are no
guarantee. Many monrachs, for instance, believed that they
were chosen by G-d and were superior to the common man.
Ironically, so did the elitist French Enlightenment.
Another reason many fear faith and G-d – in addition
to centuries of religious tyranny – is due to a lack
of understanding what true and healthy faith is all about
(and this too, is a result of the distortions created by
centuries of faith abuse). True faith is not merely the
absence of reason. It is an inherent human faculty, part
of the “Divine Image” in which we were all created,
that complements reason, and allows us to reach places that
we could never reach with pure logic alone. Faith is what
gives humans: the courage and the commitment to love (something
reason alone could never sanction); the power to discover;
the ability to hope; the capacity to overcome impossible
odds; the belief in yourself and in others.
I submit that this is what Americans voted for on Election
Day 2004: A vote for G-d in our lives. A G-d that we no
longer have to fear. After years of religious exploitation,
we have matured to the point where we can embrace the virtues
and beauties of the sacred, and integrate it into secular
This may the challenge of our times: To revisit faith after
its misuse and abuse for so long, and reclaim it as a critical
and most powerful tool in our lives.
G-d works in strange ways. Not the people of faith but
those that fear faith were the ones that made faith such
an issue in America today. With the intention of mocking
President Bush’s “simplistic faith” they
inadvertently deified him and turned him into a (false)
saint. In effect, unwittingly they crystallized an issue
that otherwise would perhaps not been quite noticed, and
provoked million of people of faith to come out and cast
a vote against the bigotry and dogma of non-believers.
Americans are a very tolerant people. They will tolerate
flag-burners and atheists. They believe in freedom of religion,
that every individual can choose to worship or not worship
any deity one wishes. Separation of church and state –
a wall between organized religion and political authority
– is a must. No organized religion can rule the country.
But Americans will not tolerate intolerant skeptics: Freedom
of religion, not freedom from
religion. “In G-d we Trust” – a non-denominational universal
G-d – is the driving force behind all our freedoms and liberties.
Ironically, faith in a Creator and in the edict that “all
men [perhaps it should be amended to “humans”]
are created equal” with “unalienable rights”
is the reason that we must respect the choice of a non-believer.
I wonder if the French Enlightenment would have returned
us that favor with equal passion? Would they have honored
the right and dignity of each individual to choose faith,
even if it seemed to them as inferior canaille?
Be careful what you don’t believe in. Your passion against
faith may end up stoking its flames. Your vehement doubts
may give birth to the deepest faith of all.
Which atheist was it that said: “I hate you G-d,
just as if you had existed.”
A take off on Voltaire: If G-d existed, you would need
people who denied His existence. That denial can be as strong
as faith itself, and perhaps it is just another manifestation
So, democrats and republicans, skeptics and believers,
secularists and the religious, Europeans and Asians, Christians
and Muslims: Whether you like it or not – America
Faith, moral values and G-d are the most important priorities
in our lives.
This is President Bush’s mandate.
Now let us work on integrating faith and reason.