In last week’s episode of Army Wives a unit was shown returning home from deployment. The C-5 landed and troops deplaned and formed ranks while the families stood behind ropes breathlessly waiting to welcome their soldiers home. The commander then led the troops in the Lord’s Prayer as they stood in ranks, after which they were released to be greeted by their loved ones.
No, not a final muster or a patriotic speech; not the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem; the Lord’s Prayer. Is that a chilling scene, or what?
(I find that series a little hard to watch anyway. If this is our modern Army, we are in trouble. The commanding general in this drama spends more time weeping than he does issuing orders. I mean, really.)
For several election cycles, now, the Republicans have catered to the religious right with such rhetoric as “compassionate conservatism” and George W. Bush’s “Faith Based Initiative.” Rhetoric from the media has increasingly examined the religiosity of the candidates, despite the constitution’s Article VI clause that “no religious test shall ever be required” for any office, including president. Far less time is spent discussing the candidates’ educational background than is spent on discussion of what churches they may have attended.
In this cycle the parties have somewhat reversed the tradition, with McCain avoiding religion and Obama devoting entire speeches to demonstrating how religious he is and the extent to which religion influences his life and his decision-making. Of such stuff are theocracies made.
Obama accuses McCain of attempting to run for George Bush’s third term, but it is he who seems to be trying to be the “religion candidate.” He is the one touting his religious credentials and his “born again” position with respect to faith. McCain is not the one proposing a “Faith Based Initiative” to mimic the Bush Administration, Obama is the one doing that. If anyone is going to continue the Bush Administration’s attempt to turn this nation into a theocracy, it would appear to me that McCain is much less likely to do so than Obama.
At least he is, as the crux of his religiosity, backing things like social safety nets rather than obsessing on homosexuality and abortion, but the focus on religion simply does not belong to be part of a political campaign under our system of government and the degree to which Obama is indulging in it makes me uneasy.
Obama’s proposed version of the “Faith Based Initiative” plan would require that either government oversight into religious organizations be required to assure that the requirements he has proposed were met, or that funding would be provided to religious organizations with requirements which would not be monitored for compliance. The former is unacceptable to those of faith, and the latter is unacceptable to those with governmental concern.
Perhaps he is just pandering for the votes of the religious right; perhaps this reflects the actual position that he holds. I’m not sure which of those two alternatives is less attractive to me.