The Divine Right: Conservatives, God, Politics and Policy

Whose side is God on in the presidential election? The Republicans -- both at and subsequent to their convention -- have actively laid claim to God's mantle and given the Almighty credit for most things American.
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Whose side is God on in the presidential election?

The Republicans -- both at and subsequent to their convention -- have actively laid claim to God's mantle and given the Almighty credit for most things American. The Democrats only begrudgingly acknowledged God in the platform at their convention -- after a contested three vote fight of the delegates.

Still, we're of the opinion that God being omniscient, omnipotent and all-caring -- is on neither side and is upstairs rooting for the party that will do the right thing -- not the "right-wing" or "left-wing" thing -- for humankind generally and America specifically. We're fairly certain that the frequency of mention of God's name does not enter into the Creator's calculus and decision-making equation when it comes to passing along blessings.

That's not to say that invoking God's name does not have an impact with someone more earthbound than heavenly. That someone is the "God voter." The Republicans have a substantial lead in making their appeal to this constituency. Let's look at the evidence.

At the Republican convention, both vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney near the end of their speeches gave God credit for our constitution and the rights it contains. Candidate Romney put it this way, "That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator and codified in our constitution." Candidate Ryan went even further to state, "They are self evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government." We must have missed that lesson in our history book. But, as far as we know, our rights and our constitution were not passed down from on high on a set of tablets. They were painstakingly crafted by our founding fathers after much debate and discussion. The good and enduring work of the founding fathers shows that they definitely had divine inspiration during their deliberations but provides no testimony to divine intervention.

In fact, the word "God" does not appear in the constitution. That's not because the founding fathers were "godless," but because they were not of one mind on the subject of religion and wanted the Constitution to be seen as a secular rather than a religious document. They also saw a need for the separation of church and state.

The most outspoken "founder" with regard to God was Thomas Jefferson, a Deist, as quoted in the religious beliefs section of, who wrote to his nephew, Peter Carr, in 1787, "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there is one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." Jefferson also declared, "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg..."We may be wrong but we don't think that this founding father would have been very welcome at this year's Republican Convention.

That's especially true because at the convention God was exalted from the podium and in the platform. According to Dorian de Wind, the platform includes 12 references to God. Based upon its analysis of transcripts from the Federal News Service, on September 6 the New York Times posted an interactive that showed that Republican speakers used the word "God" 35 times during their presentations.

The verbal commitments did not end in Tampa. Shortly after the convention, Mitt Romney went to Virginia Beach on September 9, and after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, proclaimed, "That pledge says 'under God.' I will not take 'God' out of the name of our platform. I will not take 'God' off of our coins, and I will not take 'God' out of my heart. We're a nation bestowed by God."

Candidate Romney's ringing endorsement of God was in perfect alignment with a Republican-sponsored resolution passed boldly and overwhelmingly by the House in November of 2011 to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States. As we said in our December 6, 2011 Huffington Post blog titled "In Good We Trust":

This is another example of misplaced Congressional priorities... We are at a pivot point. To save the United States as we have known it, we need to put things into proper balance and perspective. We need to reaffirm our trust in good as well as God.

We don't know where George McGovern would stand on our statement. We do know he does not square with the political mainstream of either party in his forthright opinions regarding God. Here's what he said in an April 3, 2003 article for The Nation,

As a World War II bomber pilot, I was always troubled by the title of a then-popular book, God Is My Co-pilot. My co-pilot was Bill Rounds of Wichita, Kansas, who was anything but godly, but he was a skillful pilot, and he helped me bring our B-24 Liberator though 35 combat missions... I give thanks to God for our survival, but somehow I never quite picture God at the controls of a bomber or squinting through a bombsight deciding which of his creatures should survive and which should die.

We should point out that when Senator McGovern ran for president against Richard Nixon in 1972, he got only 37.5 percent of the popular vote and a grand total of 17 electoral votes out of 537 cast. His comments above were made almost 30 years after his candidacy. We don't know what impact they might have had back then or if they would have possibly made his defeat any worse. We do know that they would not ingratiate him at all today with the God voters.

We wonder, on the other hand, if they might get him God's vote. As religious people, we believe that God judges us by our actions and not by our words. We further believe that God and goodness is in the details and how we care for the least among us and not by public pronouncements or pious platitudes.

As we said in our previous post on this topic, "While in God we trust may be our motto, in good we trust must be our motive. As long as 'we the people' make choices based upon a motive and not just a motto this democracy will endure."

That's our story and we're sticking to it. So help us God!

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