I Thought Jokes Made People Laugh...
I was deeply troubled today when, on Yahoo news, I saw a story about Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann's supposed "joke" while on the campaign trail. During a campaign stop in Florida, she quipped:
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. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.
Now, my first reaction was, "Wow, that's really bad theology. It's also kind of twisted: what is this, a joke?" The fact that her press secretary had to clarify that Bachmann had said this "in jest" actually confirmed my initial incredulity: watching the video, one can't fail to notice that no one is laughing. Earthquakes and deadly hurricanes are not areas I would normally mine for comedic material, but that's just me.
Unfortunately, Ms. Bachmann has given voice to something that we have heard before, something that serves only to corroborate religion's critics in their argument that belief in a god is irrational. The god Bachmann references here is not the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition but, rather, a petty idol that serves to bolster one's own sense of place and self. Funny thing, isn't it, that she seems to think that these natural disasters are actually signs from this 'god' in support of her position!
The greatest enemy to Christianity is not science or reason or logic. It is Christians who, by word and deed, seem hell-bent to portray Christianity as an irrational superstition. As a registered Republican, it is quotes taken from candidates like Rick Perry that increase my fear that our eventual Presidential nominee will caricature Christianity on the national stage as science-hating and, to be candid, almost idolatrous. It is times like this that I lament that the US Bishops have squandered so much of their credibility over the last decade because I think their voice as a 'teaching authority' is sorely needed. Without firm and reasoned guidance, I fear for the future of our political landscape and the perception of Christianity in America.