Religious Rhetoric

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In the final debate, President Bush claimed, “God
wants everybody to be free,” reiterating a theme that has
been a staple of his discourse—and foreign policy—
since January 2003. For Bush, such rhetoric is politically
invaluable: it speaks directly to the large block of conservative
Christian voters the administration hopes to mobilize,
while speaking indirectly to the segment of the
American electorate that considers faith in a Christian
god a necessary quality for a president to possess. Bush’s
explicit claims about God’s designs for freedom have
fundamentally reshaped modern presidential discourse.
Indeed, since Franklin Roosevelt took
office seventy years ago such claims
have been nearly nonexistent in major
presidential addresses. Bush makes
them in every major speech he gives,
forcing Kerry to elevate his religious
rhetoric just to keep pace. Regardless of
one’s individual religious beliefs, all
people should be wary of the president making such
claims because they leave the world in a horrifying position:
two leaders are fighting an endless simulated holy
war, both claiming loudly that god is on their side, and
both holding firm to the belief that no end will suffice
save total annihilation of the other.

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