When I first read this article on the White House bible study group that is apparently attended on a regular basis by many members of the US cabinet and presided over by an unelected pastor, I thought…
Ironic I know.
Incredulity welled up, slowly at first and then escalated toward anger.
Here we had decision makers responsible for the immediate well being of 325 million Americans, not to mention a whole heap of global economic and diplomatic flow on, who bashed the bible in that truly fundamentalist way. On company time, they were learning the gospels as interpreted by an individual whose political and moral agendas are unknown.
This cannot be right.
It cannot be objective or balanced.
And it cannot be in the best interests of a nation made up of people with a myriad of beliefs and values when leaders focus on the interests of just one particular and often narrow view of the world.
Then I checked myself.
Religion is a reality.
Belief in one god or another is an ever present in many people’s lives and has influenced leaders, governments and policy ever since leadership was invented. People in power invariably have religious beliefs and simply because they are in power, inevitably foist those beliefs on their subjects.
So be it, my calming self thought.
It is what it is.
Whoever is in power, be they elected or simply the pastor brought into the inner fold, will have beliefs. It is impossible to find a true neutral. Even the atheist believes in her disbelief. In all cases of leadership the people who lead will bring beliefs and a value set to the process of leading. Values will influence their decisions and how they make them.
Now if those values may seem to me odd, extreme even, my option is not to vote for them. Perhaps even persuade others to do likewise.
If I don’t have a vote or the system is not exactly democratic my options are less comfortable but I could still make my disagreement known, even if only to myself.
My problem with the White House bible group is who runs it and how they got there.
The process of influence through the tradesman’s entrance is a dangerous precedent. It allows beliefs and ideas that really haven’t been through the public mill to ingratiate the source while many other equally valid beliefs and ideas try to muscle their way through the Fourth Estate.
Again this is nothing new. This process of influence is as old as politics itself but we should be more concerned when it is a brazen as this for it suggests that very few people even see it as free influence.
Add to this the ’fake news’ corruption of the media and getting through the back door becomes even more of a bonus.
So here is the thought.
When you next hear a politician speaking about policy, a rarity I know, think about where the policy came from, who influenced its formulation and what values are affected by it.
This can be quite a salutary exercise for the benefits of preaching to the inner circle stretch way beyond theology.