A few nights ago I was watching some TV coverage of the U.S. Presidential election battle which is soon to draw to a close as Americans go to the polls on November the second. In the coverage, some people from a church in Arizona were asked about Bush and The War Against Terror (which has the ironic acronym TWAT). Their answers left me quite literally stunned.
They gave their full support for Bush, citing that he was "God's President" and that by waging war in Iraq, President Bush was "spreading the word of God." The report then showed them standing in a circle, in their frumpy fashions, praying aloud, and asking the good Lord to put his chosen president in place to lead America. Further scenes showed the congregation standing around singing and clapping out of time to some old praise song being banged out of an equally old piano by an even older lady.
"Is this war more of a crusade, do you think?" asked the interviewer to one female member of the congregation.
"Well of course! This is about proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ, bringing the gospel to a part of the world that has been lied to throughout history," she replied.
"Would you then describe this as a Holy War?" continued the interviewer.
Without hesitation the woman responded, "Absolutely."
I could only sit there shaking my head in disbelief. This isn't a Holy War, this is supposed to be a war about freedom and liberty, though many speculate that there is possibly a more sinister motive involving Iraq's vast oil wells. After all, if America and Britain were so concerned with the freedom of Iraq under the oppressive dictatorship of the now toppled leader Saddam Hussein, then how come those countries haven't yet started military action against other regimes that flout human rights so openly, like for example China?
Say what you will about this war, one thing is surely true: the last thing it's about is religion. Surely that's the last thing it should be about too. This isn't a Jesus -vs- Allah showdown. Making it that would only serve to make an already volatile and seriously out of hand situation far graver than it already is.
The Christians interviewed in the news story claimed that God was on their side. The interviewer then asked if that wasn't exactly what al-Qaeda has repeatedly claimed. The disturbing answer is of course, yes.
God himself has yet to come out and publicly comment on whose side he's on. But my thought is that God, whichever team he plays for, must surely not be in favor of any kind of war? If God isn't a peaceful leader/creator then it would seem that heaven isn't going to be the wondrous bliss so many are looking forward to.
Of course, as America gets ever closer to voting day the rest of the world is looking on, with a fair few of those onlookers hoping that Bush will be ousted from the currently less than White House. In his four years as President, it would seem Bush has fudged foreign policy and upset numerous countries, many of whom (including the UK) were, and still are, considered friends and allies. His unwinnable war has created more problems than it has fixed, and he's a card-carrying oil man. Having said that, though, maybe America (and the world) should give him a chance to 'fix' that which he has so badly broken.
Kerry is popular across the world more by default than by virtue. He's popular mainly because Bush is so intensely hated. We know very little about him. The bumper stickers I've seen in the United States with slogans such as "Anybody but Bush '04" may be funny, but is it really a considered and sensible thing to simply vote for 'the other guy' just to get 'the present guy' out of office? Whatever happens, I hope it won't turn into the farce that we saw in the Bush -vs- Gore vote of 2000 where America looked pompous and utterly foolish on centre stage of the world. Though with postal votes in Florida already going missing the outlook isn't good.
I wonder, though, if Kerry wins the election and becomes America's forty-fourth President, will the happy-clappy Christian Bush supporters from Arizona, who were featured in that news story, stand behind God's decision? Who knows. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.