The point about George Deutsch, NASA’s self-appointed enforcer of theological correctness (now ex-), is not that he was an ambitious young political hack who embellished his resume and overreached his authority. It’s that the particular type of behavior in which he engaged — imposing a faith-based worldview where it is completely inappropriate — is a singular hallmark of this administration, and one that originates at the very top. Ezra Klein points to just one example.
I want to highlight this graf from Jeffrey Goldberg’s profile of Bush-speechwriter Michael Gerson:
“The President can’t imagine that someone who is President of the United States could not have faith, because he derives so much from it,” Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, said. “I can see him struggle with other world leaders who don’t appear to be grounded in some faith,” he said. He added, “The President doesn’t care what faith it is, as long as it’s faith.”
That’s a deeply disturbing factoid. Bush, after all, isn’t traipsing around the world calling for testimonials, but meeting with fellow heads of state to discuss world affairs. It’s not clear where religion would figure into the conversation. Moreover, the emphasis on faith as a general character trait rather than Christianity as a foundational world view is even less explicable. If Bush believed so deeply in Jesus Christ and an intelligible God that he couldn’t relate to those without the same worldview, that would be parochial and worrying, but understandable. Simply lacking comfort with those who haven’t decided to trust in a higher force, however, belies a real insecurity with the very concepts of self-determination and free will, not to mention a fear of making decisions unaided.
“The President doesn’t care what faith it is, as long as it’s faith.” I’m trying to wrap my poor faithless noodle around that one, and not quite succeeding.