The father of the Internet, model for Love Story and hog-slopping Renaissance man has a new avocation. Vice President Al Gore got religion. Actually, he assures, he already had it but has "never worn his religious commitment on his sleeve."
I believe, and I acknowledge no theological training, that one of religion's goals is to have one's life exemplify one's spiritual tenets, i.e. Catholics suffer during Lent, Mormons drive Suburbans filled with many minors, and Jehovah's Witnesses ring doorbells. Gore describes himself as a man of faith who, when asked, will admit it, but complains that we "have enough people from other parts of the ideological spectrum doing that." Like Peter, Gore feels one's religion should be denied and/or hidden. That's a heck of a challenge for a missionary program.Still, Gore's senior policy adviser, Elaine Karamack, maintains that, "The Democratic Party is going to take back God this time," referring to the 2000 races. There's a problem right out of the blocks on this Gore agenda of the day. While not professing complete knowledge of religion's inner workings, I am nearly positive that it works the other way. God does the taking back. He runs an application sort of process, and coups have not been successful. He doesn't succumb to a fund-raising kind of system where if he is annoyed with enough mailings or promised nuclear secrets, he comes around. In fact, the good Lord has been known to strike down the persistently annoying, see Genesis and Noah's experience or the Egyptian army and the Red Sea in Exodus. God calls the shots on who's in the fold, and it's a merit-based system. No grading on a curve, no group efforts and no quotas allowed, which will be a tough adjustment for Democrats.
But that adjustment will be mild in comparison to others in "taking back God." In their naivete and practice of taking the Fifth on whether they are indeed religious, Democrats have forgotten a few of God's basics. For example, animal rights activists must be driven from the party ranks as money changers were driven from the temple, for the Good Book provides man rules over beast. Spotted owls occupy a lower rank and snail darters are part of a food chain, not a federal protection program. Just the Old Testament stories alone on sacrificial lambs are going to push PETA to violent vegetable pelting.
"Thou shalt not kill" presents a challenge for the resurrection of religion among Democrats. Partial birth abortion could prove problematic. And, with nary a pro-lifer in its 3,000-mile radius, the National Bioethics Advisory Committee's report recommendation for federal funding for research involving embryos could prove embarrassing. Shy of single mother sainthood, Democrats have never been very big on babies in any form, and God is fond of the little bounders.
The list could go on. While Jefferson acknowledged God as the source of his notion of equal rights under the law, he also recognized the rules that went along with that notion. God loves all his children, but, like any good parent, he has rules, most of them absolutes, which have proven to be confusing to the moral relativistic Democrats. When his children stray, he still loves them, but he doesn't modify the rules for them. Nor is he very big on private life compartmentalization. He's pretty much a 24-hours-per-day-rules-apply deity. He's a judgmental kind of guy, and judgmentalism is a sin of Old Testament proportions among Democrats.
Democrats taking over religion is an incongruous notion. Democrats summer while Republicans camp. Democrats demand bagels and Starbucks while Republicans eat doughnuts and are quite happy with 7-Eleven coffee. Democrats hike and Republicans fish. Democrats drive Volvos and Republicans drive GM. There's no such thing as a Bible-thumping Democrat. In fact, in Berkeley, I believe there is a noise ordinance against it. Democrats have Richard Gere and Republicans have Moses (Charlton Heston). Democrats have once-a-week church and annual conventions where they debate same-sex marriages and the ordaining of women. Republicans have prayer meetings for the Democrats.
The Democrats seized Republican economics. And Clinton dragged Democrats and their altruism kicking and screaming into putting criminals in jail and welfare recipients to work. The Democrats are free to abscond with whatever Republican programs they can stomach to stay in power, and Gore is welcome to adopt whatever agenda he wants from urban sprawl to bean sprouts in every pot. But his claim on God is an encroachment of blasphemous levels. When it comes to religion, the Republicans have the ball. In fact, they are darn proud to be playing and say so. God seems to like that in a servant.
Now there's another odd thought -- a Democrat as a servant. They have them, but they aren't them. And they can claim religion, but only the man in charge can authenticate the claim, and he does so by works, not words.
Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Her e-mail address is email@example.com