Fire and Brimstone

A letter from a Pastor to the President

Dear President Bush,

When you were running for office, you stated that Jesus Christ was your favorite philosopher. You have made a point of proclaiming your Christian faith. You have put time and energy in an attempt to link the church's mission with state social security. You have, particularly since Sept. 11, continually preached GOD BLESS AMERICA on almost every public occasion.

As a pastor and fellow United Methodist, I need to ask you: Do you know what the values and vision of Jesus are?

I ask the question because I am baffled and confused by your behavior. You claim Christ but act like Caesar. There is blood all over your hands, with the promise of even more blood to come. You sit atop the nations like the Biblical Whore of Babylon, openly fornicating with the military men of might, their corporate sponsors, their nuclear madness, and their insatiable hunger for global armament. Is this how you learned Christ?

You claim the benevolence of your administration toward the rest of the world. But the treaties you make, and the treaties you un-make, continue to be laced with a tightened rope around the neck of the poor. Is this how you learned to "forgive our debtors"? Is it really Christ-like to insist on cuts in life-supporting infrastructure while increasing military budgets and allowing the plunder of nations to accrue to a very small financial elite? Have you not been taught that Jesus was crucified by these same Principalities and Powers?

You practice a patriotic righteousness that visualizes never-ending war against enemies of great evil. You bombed Afghanistan, with both guns and butter, to show the difference. But do you really think the few crumbs of bread airlifted to Afghanistan shield the reality: that you have no intention to assist in building a sustainable society there? Is this how Christ taught you to avenge the wrongs done unto you?

I am troubled by your spirit, George. You claim you are of the Sustainer of Life, but you practice the terror of Death. You are spreading the war. Afghanistan is only the beginning. Military presence crops up world-wide. You bait us with Iraq and shield what you are doing in Colombia. You lay the groundwork for disrupting Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. You allow the dogs of capitalism to sink their teeth into the battered body of a raped Central America. And the buck stops on your desk, George: Is this what Jesus would do?

The Spirit of Death rises, and nations tremble. We the people of the United States tremble. We discover how truly powerless we have become. Our military budget grows to obscene levels, bankrupting the social infrastructure from which our security and freedom rise. We see basic medical care costs increase, even as more and more Americans find themselves without health care. We see environmental treaties subverted, ignored, and disappeared, even as Mother Earth signals increasing distress. Labor rights are made secondary to the rights of corporations, resulting in wage reductions and growing financial insecurity. Homelessness exposes itself through tented cities. Education becomes the victim of budget knife cuts. A few benefit but the groan of the masses is growing. Whose side are you on, George?

Perhaps you think that God has chosen you for this hour. Perhaps God has. So again I ask you, Is this how you learned Christ? If God has chosen you for this hour then, in Christ's name, serve the values and vision of Jesus: Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, release the prisoners, cancel the debt, forgive your enemies, practice Jubilee. Then, through you, this nation and all nations will be blessed.

But beware: the road of the sword will bring division and much blood. Those who take it up will be devoured by it. Many people, in the name of God, have taken up the sword. And many have come to ruin. Thinking themselves capable of naming evil, they have become the very evil they name.

Seek Christ first,

Rev. Rich Lang, Pastor

Rev. Rich Lang ministers to Trinity United Methodist Church in Seattle, Wash. This originally appeared in the Real Change News (

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