“They may be the ones facing danger on the battlefield,” says ABC News Online, “but US soldiers in Iraq are being asked to pray for George W. Bush.”
Thousands of marines have been given a pamphlet called “A Christian’s Duty,” a mini prayer book which includes a tear-out section to be mailed to the White House pledging [that] the soldier who sends it in has been praying for Bush. “I have committed to pray for you, your family, your staff and our troops during this time of uncertainty and tumult. May God’s peace be your guide,” says the pledge, according to a journalist embedded with coalition forces.The pamphlet is the work of In Touch Ministries, which is a part of the Charles Stanley Institute for Personal Living and the In Touch Foundation, Inc. Their not exactly nondenominational site offers you a quiz on how well you know God, asking questions like Have you ever asked Jesus to be your personal lord and savior? and: If you die tonight, do you know without a doubt that you will go to heaven? They do have a piece called A Christian’s Duty in Times of War, but it’s very general advice, diffusely written, which boils down to “pray fervently, and do what God wants.” Those who feel that adults are entitled to a little more rigor than that might want to check this out.
But back to that pamphlet. Apparently it offers a daily prayer to be made for Mr. Bush et al. I had a moment’s hope when I saw today’s prayer, which was that Mr. Bush and his advisers “will seek God and his wisdom daily and not rely on their own understanding.” But given Monday’s prayer, I doubt that Sunday’s will do much good. Monday’s asks that Mr. Bush and his advisers will “be strong and courageous to do what is right regardless of critics.” Ignoring criticism is perhaps the one area in which Mr. Bush and his cronies need no help from anyone.
I find the whole enterprise grossly offensive. Which part of a Christian’s duty is it to pray for George W. Bush, except insofar as we are enjoined to pray for all our fellow critters? Yes, it’s traditional to pray for our leaders—but a pamphlet with set prayers, and a tear sheet you fill out and send in? The tear sheet is nominally sent in as a pledge, but I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts its real purpose is to gauge what more straightforward industries would refer to as market penetration.I first heard about this from Erik Olson, a little while ago, but we just now got a spluttering, outraged letter about it from Andrew Phillips as well. He actually swears. I’ve known Andrew since the late 1970s, and I’m not sure that’s not the first time I’ve heard him swear. He’s normally the politest and most moderate of men. His letter continues,
If your stomachs are strong, I also just stumbled on http://www.prayforgeorgewbush.com, but I’ll warn you that it’s as bad as or worse than the URL suggests. Its front page asserts that divine mandate has put that feebleminded, morally challenged, inbred, penny-ante usurper in charge of the US. If you go, your visit will be counted, and I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. … I’m furious with this twit and his crew of sycophantic, self-enriching toadies.No kidding.
I’d better finish up and get this posted, because we just heard from Susan Palwick about it. She said, “Jesus would be spinning in his grave, if he had one.” Also: “I’m certainly praying for him. I doubt my prayers are the ones he wants; but hey.”
Just so. Exactly so.