When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (The U.S. Declaration of Independence)
And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. … (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17)
The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” (U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address)
Many American politicians proclaim their respect for America’s founders and greatest statesmen. That’s particularly true of those who call themselves conservatives and run for office as members of the GOP faction. The country would have greater hope for the future, however, if, beyond the catchphrases and sound bites they use to get votes, these pols would take the time to learn from and apply the consistent wisdom of those they profess to revere.
I thought of this as I read of the teapot tempest stirred by Michele Bachmann “with this comment during a campaign rally in Sarasota, Fla.: ‘I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake. We’ve had a hurricane. He said, “Are you going to start listening to me here?” Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now.’”
When some folks reacted to her statement with angry criticism, “her campaign issued a statement saying she was joking.” After that, she went on “Face the Nation.” Bob Schieffer asked her “whether she believes that ‘God uses weather to send people messages.’” She responded by proclaiming her personal faith before backing away from her original statement, saying “the comment I made right then was a metaphor.”
Scheiffer’s question was obviously intended to be a snare. In her campaign’s statement, Candidate Bachmann got well and truly caught up in it. I guess that her televised effort to escape it was a slight improvement. Saying that she was using God’s name as a metaphor for the American people is somewhat less offensive than implying that His power over nature is a joke. Either way, as “a woman of faith and a woman of prayer,” shouldn’t she be just a wee bit more careful about using formulations that literally take God’s name in vain (i.e., use His name in ways that disrespect the truth of His being and the awesome reality of His power)?
That, however, is a matter for her personal conscience. But the implication that God’s power over nature is a joke is deeply relevant to her bid for the office of president of the United States. I’m sure Candidate Bachmann would profess firm allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the republican form of government it establishes and requires. The Constitution’s authority, however, rests on the right of the people of the United States to govern themselves. That right in turn derives from the authority of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” by which He has endowed all human beings with their unalienable rights. If God’s power over nature is a joke, what is to prevent humans beings of superior power from laughing in the face of any claim to rights based on His authority?
America’s elites have embraced an understanding of government and politics that rejects the God-dependent logic of America’s founding. This is the nub of the crisis that is destroying America’s liberty. No one who is unprepared boldly to challenge and refute this elitist rejection of the nation’s founding principle is qualified to lead the American people as they deal with this fateful crisis. Michele Bachmann’s allusion to God’s exceptional power over nature may have reflected the sincere faith she professes. Bob Schieffer’s question offered her a priceless opportunity to remind all Americans of the fact that, throughout our history the great statesmen dedicated to establishing and preserving our constitutional liberty respected the self-evident truth that the authority of the one who created the heavens and the earth extends also over justice and politics and all human affairs. They were not ashamed, in speech or action, to assume and exemplify a reverent fear of the Lord.
Instead, Candidate Bachmann exemplified a fear of her God-rejecting critics. Her pathetic abuse of God as a metaphor for human power panders to the specious lie that liberty can survive in a nation separated from God. But it also (intentionally or unintentionally) adopts the view now prevalent among the arrogant, elitist rejecters of God’s authority, to wit: that God’s name is a metaphor for human power, a comforting figment of human imagination, a convenient tool with which to manipulate passion and consciousness in the ruthless, godless pursuit of power. God offered Michele Bachmann the opportunity to strike at the very heart of America’s affliction. Instead, she pandered to the lie that causes it. Does this prove her qualified for the presidency in this fateful hour? I think not.