WHEN THE NEXT PRESIDENT TALKS TO GOD
Hey, wanna ask Rudy Giuliani a question? Well, you can e-mail it to email@example.com and maybe David Brody, who's interviewing Rudy next week, will ask it for you.
That's er, David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson's outfit. And as a teaser for his interview, he's got a couple of posts on his CBN blog about Rudy and religion, which are actually worth your attention.
One of the posts is titled "Hillary vs Rudy: A Religious War?" In it, he quotes an old Newsweek article about the 2000 Senate campaign -- and we're reminded that you don't have to be a fundamentalist to use religion for cynical right-wing ends:
... A fund-raising letter he sent out last October is a perfect case in point. In it, Giuliani attacked Hillary Rodham Clinton for her "hostility toward America's religious traditions" and portrayed her as a leader of a "left-wing elite" that has waged a "relentless, 30-year-war against America's religious heritage."
...Confronted by Clinton's demand that he "take responsibility" for the fund-raising letter, he said, "Not only do I stand by the letter, I'd like everyone in New York state to read it." He went on to repeat that liberals like Clinton were wrong to prohibit public schools from posting the Ten Commandments in classrooms. When Clinton, campaigning upstate, replied that the Supreme Court had ruled such displays unconstitutional, Giuliani responded with humor. The next day he wrapped up a press briefing on the city budget with a slide of the Ten Commandments--and got a laugh.
Brody's other post (the one in which the interview is promised) flags this New York Times article from early 1994. Giuliani had been mayor for only a few months, and he chose the funeral of a rabbi who was a friend of his to make some pronouncements about religion. His jumping-off point was tolerance -- which he wielded as a nightstick:
..."As the Mayor of New York City," he said, "I will work as hard to protect someone's right to believe in God as he or she sees fit -- or not to believe in God -- because I realize that my right to practice my religion depends completely on my commitment to defend someone else's right to practice theirs," he said, "or to practice no religion at all."
Pointing to the controversy over whether homosexuals could march in the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade, Mr. Giuliani quoted from John Cardinal O'Connor's St. Patrick's Day homily. He repeated the Cardinal's question, "Is it bigotry for the Ancient Order of Hibernians to celebrate its values without being required to celebrate the values of others?"
...The Mayor said that both the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Gay Pride Parade "should be accepted with equal love and tolerance."
Did that whiz by too fast for you? The proudly exclusionary St. Patrick's Day Parade is morally equivalent to the Gay Pride Parade because the Gay Pride Parade bans ... er, who? Straight Irish people? (I don't believe that's the case. I have no reason to believe that would be the case, if the straight Irish people were willing to get into the spirit of the thing.)
Mr. Giuliani ... noted that many Catholics today "feel that in some intellectual or quasi-intellectual circles, they are demeaned." He said he had also heard Catholics say that "Catholic-bashing has become part of the dogma of what they regard as the politically correct."
And he said: "Indeed, I do detect among some who accept the most recent intellectual fads a disdain for those who share in the more orthodox faiths, whether Christian or Jewish or Muslim. In my humble opinion -- and this is meant as an observation, not a challenge -- that disdain emerges from an almost subconscious conclusion that to believe in God too fervently betrays a certain intellectual infirmity." ...
(Er, don't believe that "observation, not a challenge" part. Every time Rudy disagrees with you, it's a challenge.)
He claimed to derive great strength from his faith:
..."The church has built the road that allows my intellect to traverse to the outer reaches of what is comprehensible and, at that point, the church offers a leap of faith to carry me where my intellect cannot go. For me, being a Catholic is not limiting but liberating."
This intrigues Mr. Brody and makes him "wonder what [Giuliani's] upbringing was like and how his Catholic faith helped shaped who he is today." (Meanwhile, of course, as Julia has noted, he's barred from the Catholic sacrament of Communion because of his divorce.)
If Giuliani becomes president, will he preach tolerance or will he bash people who aren't religious conservatives? Answer: He'll do both. Think of the way Bush tolerates Islam (Eid dinners in the White House) while sustaining a messianic crusade against "Islamofascists." Giuliani's going to send similar mixed messages.