Benny's World

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Faith & Politics

By David E. Price

The Bible harshly admonishes leaders who declare "Mission Accomplished" prematurely. The relevant passage is Jeremiah's condemnation of prophets and priests who "deal falsely": "They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace." Or, as a contemporary translation has it: "They act as if my people's wounds were only scratches. 'All is well,' they say, when all is not well," (Jeremiah 6:14).

What a text for our times! I had occasion to recall this and to remind others of it during the 2004 campaign. How the admonition resonates when we think not only of President Bush, dressed in a flight suit declaring victory in Iraq, but also of his complacency in the face of economic distress, pulling the plug on extended unemployment benefits in 2003. Bush's hope seemed to be that no one would notice that the jobs were not coming back and thousands were still exhausting their benefits every week. "All is well," he said, in effect, when all was manifestly not well.

I made this point in different campaign contexts, sometimes framing it with the scriptural reference, sometimes not. My audiences always understood the message and were receptive to it. Yet I was struck by how much more engaged and enthused they were when I first reminded them of the familiar phrase, "'Peace, peace' when there is no peace."

Normally, I'm not aligned with this group, but I think they have a few bits to offer in reframing messages...and we have 3 years to do so.


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