God, Fear, and George W. Bush
Although it pains me to no end, I may finally have to give George W. Bush (or at least his handlers) some positive credit for the first time in his presidency. Call me slow, but I just realized why he plays the "religion" card so often, and how he plays it so effectively. To echo a popular slogan: it's the fear factor, stupid.
Fear is one of the most powerful tools available for manipulating a group of people to do your bidding. This has been proven throughout military history, used brilliantly by everyone from the leaders of ancient Rome to the political leaders of today. Whether there is an actual enemy or not, a fearful populace is a willing populace. Therefore, in the absence of a real enemy, one needs simply to create a convincing alternative. Keep the people in fear, and they will support your agenda - it's very simple, really, and it works.
An unbiased look at Christianity also proves the effectiveness of fear in manipulating a group of people. Whether they admit it or not, at the core of every Christian's faith is the fear of burning in eternal fire if they don't believe. Sure, they have the standard list of recitable reasons for their faith, but once you run them through the list they are eventually left alone with this trembling fear of eternal damnation. It has been quite possibly the most effective psychological exercise in all of history. It has also been extremely lucrative for those who know how to exploit it.
Combine the proven effectiveness of fear in garnering support for military campaigns, and the proven success of the fear inherent in religious doctrine, and your power knows no end. Any group of people who fear an enemy, whether that enemy be real or created, and this same group can be convinced that this God who holds the key to eternal damnation supports a military campaign against this enemy, is a group of people who have surrendered their last thought of dissent. Your will is now their will, and it is obvious to me that George W. Bush's handlers have discovered this.
We have seen time and again how immorality can be made supportable with a wave of a Bible and a few selective quotes from the same. Christians in America number in the millions. It is already known that these millions, at their core, fear this particular God over all else, because he will roast them if they don't. Logic and reason, as out of place as they are in a discussion of religion, expose an enormous advantage for anyone requiring the use of fear to pursue an agenda involving this group of people.
Here is a large segment of the population which enters the arena with an unshakable fear already instilled. Additionally, due to the fact that they willingly believe what they do, manipulation is no longer doubtable. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity -- use this group's fear of their God against them by proclaiming to fear the same, while proclaiming the support of this God-to-be-feared in whatever your agenda may be. The mantra becomes, "God dictates my agenda, so you better support it, or you'll burn in eternity." Those who write the scripts for George W. Bush have applied this concept with impressive results. Many Christians in America not only believe that 9-11 was a Saddam/Osama team effort, but they also believe that Bush really won the latest election fairly, that the economy is doing great, that Israel is just a poor victim of those mean Arabs, and that George W. Bush is really a Christian just like them.
Shortly after the latest election, George W. Bush laid claim to a mandate for his agenda, presumably in no small part coming from the Christian version of God himself. Even though the separation of church and state was an important ideal in the minds of America's founders, the combination of church and state has proven to be much more successful for George W. Bush -- and that's a genuine enemy the rest of us should fear. However, the rest of us should use the fear of this genuine enemy not to cower and submit, but to organize, plan, and fight. Bush's handlers have successfully (if sadly) reduced his supporters to a submissive herd of followers. In contrast, a well-organized opposition with a clear plan and a continual pro-active agenda will restore hope for those to whom we leave this nation.
The time for talk is over; the time for action is here. With effective leadership, organization, and active participation, change will come. Fear is indeed a powerful motivator -- until it meets the power of dissent.
Steven A. Hass edits Newzmaniac, where this article first appeared. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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