What they need to understand is that President Bush is a politician, a very good politician. He's the head of the GOP, he's the head of government, but he's not a pastor. I think that this pastoral sense of him that has been perpetuated is preventing Christians from being more critical, objectively critical -- in Jesus' words, "wise as a serpent." And I also think that it contributes to this sense of political seduction by Christians. When you get to the point where when I mention Jesus people think they know my politics, that I'm pro-life and anti-gay and pro-Iraq war, as opposed to identifying Jesus as someone who will bring life and has good news, I think that's troubling.Two important points, one that seeing Bush as a pastor figure means that Christians see him differently and don't apply the same critical approach to him, and two that Bushco has successfully turned a connection to Jesus into a certain political stance--something Tony has tried very hard to address without much luck.
One of the things that I write is that George W. Bush's religious orientation was probably among the most closely managed aspects of his public persona. It may be one of the most important things that, from the 2000 campaign on, people have managed.In other interviews, Kuo talked about putting specific religiously coded messages into speeches.
Anybody in politics who goes after the evangelical vote, I think, has a measure of spiritual accountability, especially when you invoke the name of God. Invoking God's name to get anything can be a very dangerous thing spiritually. So, yes, I do think that I have responsibility, and I think one of the reasons to speak out, to write, is to confront that, to say to others: I know of what I speak.There should be accountability for people invoking God. It stuns me how little Christians seem to think of that. Some idiot like Tom DeLay can invoke God and no one quibbles. Crooks, liars and worse, all drape themselves in Christianity. Christianity, it seems, has become the last refuge of scoundrels.
How do you think the Christian right will respond to your book?That is what our good friend PM Prescott refers to as the "moral mafia" and was just part of what struck me about the 60 minutes interview. Growing up, we raised sheep, and so I have a real affinity for the image of Jesus the shepherd. Jesus leaving the flock to find the one lost sheep was one of my favorite stories. Yet, here, we have the conservative Christian leadership essentially saying that this person who dares speak against them should be cast out. Not saved. Not rescued. Not cared for. Cast out.
It's rather extraordinary. I saw one evangelical political leader [Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council] say that no one will touch me now, which I found just an amazing phrasing. That's the way the lepers were treated in Jesus' time, and what Jesus was known for was going to the lepers: [Jesus wanted] to be where the sickest, most hurt people [were]. It's amazing to me that someone in politics would say that anyone, anywhere, would become untouchable. That is extraordinary to me, and sad confirmation, frankly, of the political seduction that Christians are going through. I think that's true of the Christian political leadership class, but my hope is that the tens of millions of people out there who aren't controlled by these particular people will see this, read this, hear about this and think, "Wow. You know what? Maybe I need to rethink this. Maybe this makes some sense." And frankly, that's why I say we need to have this fast from politics, which I think is absolutely vital.