The Politicians’ Bible

We need to pray that President Bush and Governor Clinton do more than manipulate Scripture for partisan interests, but actually read it.

The 1992 political season has witnessed spectacularly crass abuse of Scripture. George Bush began the charade at the convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in January. The President concluded a defense of the Gulf War with an outrageous application of Matthew 5:14: “I want to thank you for helping America, as Christ ordained, to be a light unto the world.”

Six months later at the Democratic convention, the scandal continued. In his acceptance speech, Albert Gore mished and mashed several scriptural phrases when he affirmed, “In the words of the Bible, ‘Do not lose heart. This nation will be renewed.’ ” And Bill Clinton messed up 1 Corinthians 2:9 just as badly, asserting that “Scripture says: ‘Our eyes have not seen, nor our ears heard nor our minds imagined what we can build.’ ”

First Things editor Richard Neuhaus was, if anything, charitable in calling President Bush’s statement “balderdash spiced with nationalistic hubris, a generous sprinkling of mendacity, and more than a hint of blasphemy.”

Jerry Falwell was equally correct in saying of Gore and Clinton, “… manipulating the Holy Scripture for political purposes should be offensive to millions of Americans who read and believe the Bible, whether they be Democrat, Republican, or independent.” Such blatant abuse of Scripture should stop. But as always in religion and politics, the issue is not entirely clear. If it is offensive to misquote the Bible wildly, what about quoting the Scripture accurately (as Clinton did in quoting, “Where there is no vision the people perish”) to make a political point? What ...

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