“Happiness Is The Distance Between Church And State”

Frontline’s ”The Jesus Factor” made me fucking sick. I am, at this late hour, still reeling, despite anticipating every single thing that was said. I know, for example, that George W. Bush is the most overtly religious President in the history of the United States, and I am quite familiar with his born-again status, the result of a lifetime of drinking, snorting, reckless driving, and losing other people’s money in shady oil schemes. I also know that Bush believes Jesus was a political philosopher, and that his relationship with him is apparently sufficient to guide what officially must always remain a secular nation. But there was something nauseating about seeing all of these things in one place; sort of a “greatest hits” collection of everything loathsome about our current Commander-in-Chief. Frame after frame, quote after quote, speech after speech, confirmed Bush’s status as the most reprehensible human being alive. Yes, the most. You fucking heard me. He’s the worst because he’s shredding the spirit of our country; taking enormous dumps on the Constitution because he once was lost and now has a friend to keep him away from the Jack Daniels. Other nations, with far more repressive and violent leaders, make no pretense of liberty, as there is no system of laws in place to prevent the establishment of religion or taxpayer support of religious institutions. In these admittedly backwater pits of despair, the church is the state, and no one has the history, philosophy, or political sophistication to alter that fact. Seeing how destructive such an incestuous relationship always is — and how religion has never done anyone a bit of good that something far less illogical could also have achieved — we have the empirical data, as well as centuries of rock-solid legal principles, to guide us. Knowing all of this, Bush still chooses Jesus. Not for himself alone, but for all of us. That’s not only stupid, it’s criminal.

While the tone of “The Jesus Factor” was surprisingly even-handed (and filled with clips from friends and former Texas converts), it was ominous enough to scare the shit out of me all over again. In one particularly frightening clip, Bush is seen holding up the Bible as the “guidebook” for America. He believes religious charities are entitled to tax dollars, as well as maintaining the right to discriminate in hiring practices, because they operate according to “a higher set of laws.” Of course this argument could be used quite reasonably when excluding blacks, gays, women, the elderly, or the handicapped, something this country has been fighting against for decades. But through his compassionate conservative agenda, Bush has eradicated years of work, and arrogantly dismissed the tireless, dangerous work of thousands who fought, bled, and died to ensure equal protection under the law. If God says that I must only hire fellow Christians, and we as a nation must fund such an organization, then the civil rights movement might as well have never occurred. And while we’re at, let’s pass the 28th Amendment, effectively repealing that section of the 1st Amendment that was once thought to prevent such things. Yes folks, it’s that dire.

“The Jesus Factor” also proved, much to my dismay (a dismay that might be responsible for my messy suicide come November), that a man of Bush’s repellant convictions can be elected President with little more than the evangelical vote. If conservative Christians turn out as expected, election after election, no Democrat will ever again reach the White House, so long as the Republican candidate is a muscular Jesus freak. This is proven by the fact that Clinton’s two victories were possible only because of Ross Perot (liberals don’t like to hear it, but absent Perot, Bush Senior would have had a second term) and a less-than-fanatical Bob Dole. Gore received more votes, but not in the right states, which is the power the evangelicals know they possess.

The program also provides a telling glimpse of Midland, Texas, the flat, dull, Oil & Jesus-centered dust bowl that helped create this monster. Bush’s first Bible study group (C.B.S.) appears to be an all-male affair for reasons that are left unexplained. I imagine this is because Texas men are sexist louts who want to orgasm over Jesus without the eyes of their saintly wives passing judgment, but it also might be the case that Texas men — drunks, wife-beaters, and assholes with few, if any, exceptions — are especially in need of saving. And we all know how Bush had that “lost weekend” with Billy Graham, gave up the sauce, saw the error of his ways, and began his journey into politics. It’s always good to hear the now-ignored quote from Dubya about an argument he had with Iron Barbara, where he said that one could not enter heaven without a love for and acceptance of Jesus Christ. We all need to remember that Bush thinks many of us (including every single member of Team Ruthless and all of our Readers) will one day tumble into the fires of hell, lest we get confused and think he’s an inclusive leader.

About Matt

Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
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