I thought we would take a moment to consider the worst question at last Thursday’s Republican presidential debate. It was from a Facebook user, so that Fox News could deflect blame as if this is the kind of thing that the people just really care about, “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.” It actually sounds kind of snarky. I wonder if the questioner was really just posing it to see how many of the candidates would claim that God told them he wanted them to be president. But most likely, it was a thoroughly genuine question.
I hate this kind of thing, because even though I’m an atheist, I take religion seriously. I admire people who are religious. One of the reasons I admire them is that they are incredibly rare in this country. Most religious people I talk to have no sense of theology. They are religious in the same way that others are Giants fans because they grew up in San Francisco and were forced to watch games while they grew up. But at least the Giants fans understand the game of baseball. They don’t just pretend while having little idea what’s actually going on in the field.
On the plus side, no one claimed that God wanted them to run for president. That is apparently so 2012! Ted Cruz instead said, “I am blessed to receive a word from God every day in receiving the scriptures and reading the scriptures. And God speaks through the Bible.” He then went on to talk about how God cured his father of alcoholism, but apparently not of being a hateful bigot. And then he got down to the meat of it, “You shall know them by their fruit.” And that means that the Republicans must nominate “someone who has been a fiscal conservative, a social conservative, a national security conservative.” Because Jesus.
John Kasich said he believed in miracles because his father was a mailman and his maternal grandmother could “barely speak English.” Then he went on with some boilerplate about community and opportunity. And then he said what all American Christians seem to believe, “[God] wants America to be strong. He wants America to succeed. And he wants America to lead.” Because Jesus? I don’t know. The truth is that Kasich is the only one up there on that stage that shows any sign of what is termed “God’s love.” But he too seems to be stuck in the religion as signifier nonsense.
Scott Walker got real Christian, “I’m certainly an imperfect man. And it’s only by the blood of Jesus Christ that I’ve been redeemed from my sins.” He then went on to talk about the protesters in his state and how he was able to do what he thought was God’s will. So cutting union rights is something that God cares about?! God the micro-manager — I love it! I think that Walker may be confused between the Christian God and the Koch brothers. And let’s be clear: he’s doing the Koch brothers’ bidding, not God’s. He might want to check that book he claims to love so much. But he won’t. Because Koch money.
Megyn Kelly has a reputation for being smart, but I think that is just the result of low expectations: “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” So for Marco Rubio, she wanted to combine God and veterans. A real debate moderator would have asked these fools to combine their belief in God and their knee-jerk support for war. But we couldn’t have that. So Rubio was allowed to waffle away. He used the word “bless” six times in his first 58 words — “we” are blessed, the Republican Party is blessed, and most of all America is blessed. Also: Obama has destroyed the VA. Because Jesus.
Megyn Kelly also mixed the question up for Ben Carson; he was supposed to combine God with race relations. Carson used it as an opportunity to make old white people know that even though he is a black man, he is not one of those demanding ones. He is the kind that will tell them that racism is over — except for the occasional person who still uses the n-word or goes on a murder rampage at a Black church. We must never divide the nation by not pretending that everything is just fine. Because Jesus was big on ignoring problems. “And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man… Wait! Forget that. The rich are cool. No problem with the rich. No injustice in this world. No, not a bit. Don’t want to divide anyone.”
And then it was time for the closing statements where only Huckabee mentioned God, and just in passing.