Being a Catholic, Easter has special religious significance for me. I attended a wonderful and crowded Catholic mass to celebrate our holiest day of the year. Like many of you, I feel that I have a relationship with God. Even if you don’t go to a regular church service or don’t see yourself as particularly religious, I bet many of you still ask God for help. For instance, before a big test or a final, I see many asking God for guidance, help and sometimes even a miracle. However, I’m also convinced that many combine this prayer with lots of studying and hard work. This combination of prayer and study are signs that one understands the challenges ahead and that one wants to succeed.
A while ago, the president was asked whether he consulted his father in the invasion of Iraq, and he responded that he consulted a higher Father. Liberals in America laughed at that, or worse, took that as a sign that the president is somehow mentally deficient. Instead of interpreting the president’s words to mean that he uses prayer along with other resources to help make decisions, liberals couldn’t see past their secular point of view. Personally, I wouldn’t want a president who takes important decisions lightly or one makes important decisions without some prayer.
Throughout American history, it has been common for presidents to ask for God’s help. Lincoln prayed for a victory at Antietam so he would be able to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. In Washington’s farewell address he called on God to help future generations and Kennedy’s Inaugural Address asked God for “His blessing and His help.” Many presidential speeches have asked for the help, guidance and blessing of God. Indeed, the very oath of office for the presidency ends with “so help me God.”
While our president and many Americans believe in God, it seems that some liberals are uneasy or offended by this. When President Bush throws around terms like good and evil (i.e. the axis of evil), liberals see this as presumptuous and pompous. However, American presidents used these same words to describe nazism in World War II and communism in the Cold War; the only difference now is the enemy, but the threat against democracy and freedom is the same.
Religion and politics often intertwine with issues that divide many people in our nation. On most of the major religious issues, Republicans seem to take the side of religion (the religious right) and Democrats take the side of secularism (the secular left). When debates about abortion arise, an issue with moral and religious underpinnings, the issue is split – Republicans are pro-life, Democrats pro-choice. If Terri Schiavo’s parents want to have a feeding tube replaced, it was Republican senators that spoke out and sided with her parents, not the Democrats.
In the last presidential election, the divide between religious and non-religious hit peak levels. In a Pew poll, following the 2004 presidential election, 64 percent of people that attend church more than once a week voted for Bush compared to 35 percent who voted for Kerry. Likewise, 36 percent of people that never attend church voted for Bush, while Kerry took in 62 percent of those voters.
While these numbers certainly show a division among Americans, I would like to think that regardless of religion, most Americans want to act justly and do good in the world.
Although Republican’s may be the religious right and Democrats the secular left, perhaps combining both religious and secular thought could make the world a better place.
Brian Eller is a materials engineering sophomore and a Mustang Daily columnist.