There is a strong cultural norm among fundamentalists and other conservatives that says they must respect authority for its own sake even when it is demonstrably wrong. The (twisted) theology goes like this: God is in control, and God is guiding our leaders, and what seems to be "wrong" may actually be some manifestation of God's will we don't presently understand, but in any event those leaders ultimately have to answer to God if they use their power unwisely. Conservative Baptists are taught a similar message, which we can compare with Bush's support in the Southeast where these Baptists are concentrated.
Here is the passage in question, Romans 13:1-7:
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
As an aside, it is interesting that the folks who are so hot for this passage usually stop right there and do not continue with what immediately follows:
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes....
So let me get this Republican fundy thinking straight: we must obey George Bush unquestioningly because he wouldn't be in authority if God didn't want him to be, but we can still feel free to bitch and moan about paying taxes regardless of what the Bible says about that? The selectiveness of these people is what frustrates me the most--they claim to be so pure and literal about scripture but feel perfectly free to ignore or distort any passages that don't suit their political needs. Isn't that what they accuse us of doing? The naked hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.
I don't recall any of these wingnuts quoting Romans 13 to slam conservatives for failing to support Bill Clinton, a leader no more flawed than King David, and a man who exercised his faith in ways that seemed much more legitimate to me because of everything he did to improve the country under his care. I don't recall any of these wingnuts quoting Romans 13 to slam conservatives for failing to support Jimmy Carter, a man who on any given random day shows more evidence of serious and genuine commitment to following Christ than George Bush has shown in his entire political career.
April 21, 2006
Street Prophets--selective Bible verse on leadership
My friend Mary is a fan of the Street Prophets, and I think I need to read it more often. Here is an interesting post on how many conservatives justify their support for Bush.