June 03, 2005


Bush's Evangelical Surprise
by Jim Hightower

Well, well — that political bubble that George W's handlers keep him in, has sprung a little leak. Most surprisingly, the rupture came at an evangelical Christian college, normally assumed to be a perfectly safe haven for George.

Karl Rove, the handler-in-chief, orchestrates all of Bush's appearances so only loyal supporters are allowed in, assuring that his boy never personally encounters the unpleasant reality that a growing majority of Americans oppose his elitist, autocratic, militaristic policies. So, Calvin College seemed the perfect venue for a commencement speech by W. Located in GOP-friendly Grand Rapids, MI, this small, theologically-conservative school's graduation ceremony would seem to offer a picture-perfect audience of adoring fans from Bush's base, the Christian right-wing.

So, two months ago, Karl bumped Calvin's scheduled graduation speaker and booked Bush in the slot. Imagine Karl and George's shock, then, to be greeted by a full-page letter in the Grand Rapids Press, signed by some 800 students, faculty and alumni protesting Bush's appearance. They pulled no punches: "Your deeds, Mr. President — neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment, and misleading the country into war — do not exemplify the faith we live by."

It also must have been unsettling for Karl and George to find graduating seniors in this audience wearing buttons declaring that "God is not a Democrat or a Republican," or sporting bumperstickers on their mortarboards asking, "Who would Jesus bomb?"

What Bush saw in Grand Rapids is a reality that Republicans, Democrats and the media have ignored: Evangelical Christianity is not a monolith in lockstep with the Bushites. On such issues as corporate greed, environmental stewardship and war, there is a deeply-progressive Biblically-based and rapidly-growing evangelical movement that separates itself from Bush. To connect to it, call Sojourners: 800-714-7474.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.


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