The Guardian 6 April, 2005
The God racket under Bush
The bible bashing and the hucksterism of the right-to-lifers in the US surrounding the Schiavo case shows once again that the religious right is riding high under Bush. It also reveals the innate immorality of US laws which pretend to show concern for life but, because there is no right to euthanasia, allows a brain damaged person to be starved to death.
Not even dogs are treated this way. Terri Schiavo had been unable to communicate with anyone for the last 15 years. Her husband had declared time and again that she would not have wished to continue living in such a state. A series of court cases ruled that life support should be withdrawn.
Both Republican and Democrat members of Congress were drawn into the charade and none seem to have even attempted to hold up a hand against the offensive of the Bible-thumping minority because they have the backing of President Bush.
People power against Bush
But many clerics did come out strongly against the attempts of the religious right and President Bush to manipulate this tragic incident. According to broadcast reports a huge 82 percent of Americans opposed the attempted intervention of Bush and Congress.
The Reverend Dr C Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, urged people "to challenge forcefully politicians who will manipulate even personal pain to achieve political gain."
The Rev. Barry W Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, "The agenda of the Religious Right is to control your life from the moment of conception to the moment of death and they will even determine when you are allowed to die. The only thing that blocks their theocratic goals is an objective, neutral federal judiciary."
Rabbi Steven B Jacobs of Kol Tikvah Congregation of Woodland Hills, California, said, "If we really cared about defending human life, we would immediately fund a national health insurance program to protect the 18,000 Americans who die every year for lack of health care."
The Reverend Forrest Church, a Unitarian pastor from New York, blasted Congress for cutting the budget for food stamps and other anti-poverty programs and then taking time off "to promote a federal law designed to address the plight of a single human being". He charged that it turns "President Bush's 'culture of life' into a parody."
Sister Maureen Fiedler, host of National Public Radio's "Interfaith Voices", in America asked, "Would this same Congress return for a special session to appropriate the billions of dollars that we've already promised to AIDS victims to ensure that they live? … Would they devote a special session to the lives lost in Iraq?"
One bizarre proposal canvassed in Congress was that a meeting should be staged in Ms Schiavo's hospital room or that her husband and her doctors should be subpoenaed to a hearing in Washington — all in the name of faith!
Bush rushed back from a holiday on his ranch to join the chorus. The New York Times reported that "his ceremonial arrival and departure by helicopter on the White House lawn allowed him to showboat as if he had just landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier". Bush declared that "It is wise to always err on the side of life", ignoring the death and destruction that the US has brought to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Abu Graib torture or the suffering of the prisoners held without charge or trial in Guantánomo Bay prison.
The NY Times also reports that "bullying [by the religious right], stoked by politicians in power, has become omnipresent, leading television stations to practice self-censorship and high school teachers to avoid mentioning "the 'E-word' — evolution — in their classrooms, lest they arouse fundamentalist rancor". Bush is already on record as saying that the jury is still out on evolution.
The position has become so bad that some IMAX theatres are now refusing to show documentaries like Galapagos or Volcanoes of the Deep Sea because their references to Darwin and the Big Bang theory might antagonise some audiences.
This religious right mob is composed of those who believe in Armageddon and declare that "The End is Near". So what do they care about the environment or wars or human life! The real danger is that this cabal of religious-motivated cranks has its own representative as the President of the United States, and in Australia, by Prime Minister John Howard.
The articles on these pages are not an attack on ordinary Christians for their religious beliefs. They take up the philosophy, politics and activities of some extremist, reactionary, fundamentalist elements in the church who do harm ordinary working people.