A reader on my blog comments that George Bush is like God to the right-wingers. She makes a very good point; the new American religion is the belief that George Bush is the most infallible person since the Bible was completed 2000 years ago.
This religion, which I will call Bushism, is a logical extension of fundamentalist Christianity. Fundamentalist Christianity is a belief system in which the Bible is infallible and the final authority by which to determine right from wrong. Derived from the Bible is a set of beliefs by which fundamentalists determine who is really Christian and who is not:
–Belief in the Trinity, or three co-equal persons with a godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
–Belief in the death, burial, and actual physical resurrection of Jesus.
–The miracles in the Bible were real and happened exactly as described.
–The world did not evolve from a Big Bang; God created it in seven days.
–God finished writing the Bible after Revelation.
–Salvation is only obtainable through acceptance in the fact that Jesus died and paid the penalty for your sins; some believe baptism is essential for salvation as well.
–The Bible is the final authority for what is right and wrong.
–A final judgement day upon the return of Christ; Christians go to heaven while non-Christians go to hell.
Bushism is an extension of this belief system. It is an apolcalyptic belief system which goes beyond normal fundamentalism and into the realm of politics. Before we continue, we shoud make clear that not all fundamentalists are Bushists. This belief system holds that George Bush is the greatest man to arise since the Bible was finished 2000 years ago and the Apostle John passed away. Therefore, according to this belief system, George Bush is infallable and anything he says is gospel truth.
Tied in with the belief in the infallability of George Bush is the belief that the end times are about to come. This is a belief made popular by such books as the Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye, husband of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye. The latter is a right-wing group which believes that the woman’s place is in the home.
Therefore, the 9/11 attacks “confirmed” for a lot of people that the end times were indeed taking place. Among the core beliefs of Bushism are as follows:
–The endtimes are about to come; therefore, we need a strong leader like George Bush to protect our American way of life.
–This is the final struggle of good versus evil; therefore, either you are with George Bush or against him.
–Gays, immigrants, liberals, and other such opponents of George Bush are against him; therefore, they must support Saddam and Bin Laden.
–Terrorism is the force of evil; there is a grand conspiracy of terrorists conspiring to destroy our way of life.
–The end times will be marked by a struggle for the hearts and minds of our children; therefore, we must make sure they are only indoctrinated with Christian values. Others would go so far as to support indoctrination in ID or Creationism.
–Gays have a secret agenda to recruit new members to fuel their evil perversions.
–Welfare, Social Security, and Medicare are unnecessary, because we must depend on God to provide for us and not the government.
–The woman’s place is in the house; they are to cook dinner for their husbands and raise their children.
–Fetuses are people with the same kind of rights as other people; therefore, abortion is a sin.
–There is a grand conspiracy of New Agers attempting to corrupt our children and teach them non-Christan practices such as Wicca and Paganism.
–George Bush’s wars are right and just because they open up new doors for missionaries to convert people.
–Liberals are elitist snobs who thumb their noses up at you and say, “That’s not PC,” when you say something out of line.
For any religion to work, there must be a compelling narrative for new converts to latch on to and make sense of their world. For example, Christianity has a long and broad narrative starting from the beginning of time to the days of the early church. Every historical event mentioned in the Bible is used to fit in to that narrative; for instance, Abraham’s sacrifice of Issac presages God’s sacrifice of Christ on the cross thousands of years later.
Islam uses many of the same stories along with the life and times of Mohammed and the strife between the Christians and Jews to construct a whole new narrative. Buddhism constructs a narrative based on Buddha’s birth into unlimited luxury and subsequent discovery of human suffering and his enlightenment. The Greeks constructed a narrative based on the gods controlling the forces of nature and unleashing them at every whim.
These events do not actually have to be factually true to be meaningful to the faithful adherent. Therefore, when you try to tell a Bushist follower that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, it will go inside one ear and out the other because it does not fit their narrative. The facts that Iraq had no WMD’s or that gays are not out to recruit followers or that there is no grand New Age conspiracy trying to corrupt our youth or that laws against abortion do not reduce abortions will similarly go in one ear and out the other. Facts do not matter to these people. Only their religious narrative, as dictated by their master George Bush does.
This explains why George Bush refuses to admit error — if he were to meet with Cindy Sheehan or to admit that he made a mistake in invading Iraq, he would lose face with the legions of cult followers who voted for him in November. He is more afraid of losing his devotees than he is of Cindy Sheehan or any of his other critics.
Religious figures — good or bad — have the kind of appeal they do because they have an aura of certainty about them. Jesus, Mohammed, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Lao-Tse, and other religious figures communicated to their followers with a near-absolute degree of certainty the meaning of life to people who were lost and looking for answers in an uncertain world. The gift of being able to communicate certainty to an uncertain world is a rare gift which cannot be taken lightly. It can be used for great good as well as great harm.
George Bush has such a gift of communicating certainty. However, he has grossly misused that gift and has wreaked great harm on this world as a result. The hundreds of thousands of people killed in Iraq along with the many broken lives that have taken place are a direct result of the fanaticism of his legions of followers, Congressional enablers, and appointees who allowed themselves to be seduced by Bush’s cult of personality and check their brains at the voting booth.
The best way I know of to combat this religious cult is for us to weave a narrative that is even more compelling and attention grabbing than Bush’s narrative is to his followers. This will allow us to peel off followers who had their doubts about Bush, but who didn’t vote Democratic last time because we failed to offer a better alternative.