Answering to a Higher Authority

What kind of religion permits someone to wage illegal wars in the name of God?

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: December 19, 2005

Answering to a Higher Authority

Once again, we've reached that special time of the year when people worldwide turn their backs on politics and instead celebrate their cherished spiritual traditions.

Yet it's an odd time because this is also when many people pay special attention to the world's problems. For some, it means assisting the homeless, the needy and the suffering. For others, it's a time of spiritual renewal and of making long-lasting commitments to fix these problems. A few don't wait for the holidays and make these commitments year round.

This year though, amid war, we are undeniably in the midst of a great moral crisis, precisely at this time when we are supposed to be celebrating all that is good in all human beings.

Part of the crisis seemingly involves people no longer being able to tell what Judeo-Christian values are. It is further exacerbated because those who have created this dilemma profess to be acting on behalf of God. Through a Judeo-Christian prism, it's easy to look across the ocean and see people blowing themselves up and wonder what kind of philosophy or religion permits one to kill hundreds of innocents in the name of God?

But that same prism seemingly prevents many from looking inward. President Bush isn't so much proclaiming the right to wage permanent worldwide war on the basis of his conservative beliefs. Instead, he is doing so on the basis of purportedly being hand-picked by God to wage a crusade against infidel Muslims.

That's a sobering thought - one that did not go unnoticed when he first revealed this publicly to Bob Woodward. When he revealed that he had consulted with his Father Up Above, that should have set off Congressional bells and whistles. In effect, he was proclaiming the right to act contrary to the UN, the U.S. Constitution and the wishes of Congress and the courts -- if he felt that God was instructing him to do so.

Some no doubt rejoiced, while many dismissed it as a harmless thought. Yet virtually every fear associated with that claim has now been realized: from the president unilaterally waging an illegal war (costing some 30,000 lives) using depleted uranium and white phosphorous weapons, to creating secret prisons outside of the law.

If he were acting as but a conservative Republican? he might simply be perceived as another extreme ideologue. But instead, he has proclaimed himself to be a Christian warrior who derives his power from a higher authority. As such, he seems to genuinely believe that he's on a mission from God and is merely acting on behalf of his Christian values.

Just as we can ask questions of those from across the sea, perhaps we too should also be asking: what kind of religion permits someone to wage illegal wars in the name of God?

And since when did extradjudicial executions and secret detentions, torture, secret prisons, the corruption of the free press at home and abroad, the cooking of intelligence, enemies lists and illegal spying on U.S. citizens also become Christian values?

They are certainly not Christian values? at least not ones associated with this century, but with the Middle Ages, Crusades and the Inquisition.

Similarly, we should also ask: When did it become a Christian value to waste a _ trillion dollars to wage an illegal war -- while permitting hundreds of thousands of Americans from the Gulf Cost region to languish in homelessness and hopelessness?

The avaricious accumulation of presidential power and his arrogant exercise of it - at a time when he believes that no laws apply to him -- and his seeming detachment and obliviousness to the victims of Katrina -- tells us that he is either clearly operating outside of the law or completely delusional.

Congress can either bury its collective head in the sand, or it can use this special time to ponder whether it is now time to make that determination. The choice before it is not to determine whether he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors (that would be a separate trial). Instead, Congress would be charged with determining whether - on the basis of his professed higher allegiance -- he is fit to continue to occupy his office.

Admittedly, his defense could be that when he took his oath, he did it with his hand on the Bible. At the same time, the oath was to uphold the Constitution, not to subvert it. If he is right, he should be able to count on divine intervention.

? Column of the Americas 2005

About Roberto Rodriguez:
The writers can be reached at: 608-238-3161 or

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