Christians should speak out about the corruption in our government

Frist, Rove, DeLay: Who's looking the other way?

Christians should speak out about the possibility of corruption in the highest ranks of government.

Dateline: Sunday, October 16, 2005
by David Batstone, for Sojourner News

Tom DeLay and Bill Frist, the two political operatives in Congress with arguably the deepest support among Christian churches, both face serious allegations of financial trickery. Karl Rove, the Bush administration power broker who speaks almost daily with Christian leaders to coordinate political action, is under investigation for divulging classified information, then covering up his misdeed.

The details of each case can be pursued in most major media outlets. In brief, DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury of illegally funneling corporate campaign contributions into Texas legislative races. DeLay, who has stepped down at least temporarily from his position as majority leader of the House of Representatives, is also under federal investigation for his questionable relationship with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Many Christians express blind allegiance to these men.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, on the other hand, has fallen under serious investigation by federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible insider trading (what got Martha Stewart in trouble), not to mention legislative conflict of interest.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove personally assured President Bush in the fall of 2003 that he had not disclosed to anyone in the press that Valerie Plame, the wife of an administration critic, was a covert CIA employee, according to Associated Press reports. It now appears possibly Rove was the source of the leak that destroyed Plame's career and potentially put her life at risk.

I find it more than a bit disturbing that Christians who back Rove, DeLay, and Frist in their political efforts express so little concern about the possibility of corruption at the highest ranks of government. Worse still, many Christians express blind allegiance to these men. Is this what we have come to, when we sell our birthright for a pot of political porridge?

The Jerusalem Post reports DeLay appeared publicly for the first time after his indictment at a Sept 28 event hosted by "Stand For Israel," an organization of evangelical Christians and Jews who support a Zionist future for Israel. The Post reports that DeLay received a standing ovation, saying, "It's really good to be here among so many old friends and brothers and sisters in the cause for justice and human freedom." Some participants called out, "We love you, Tom," according to the Post.

I grant that the aforementioned misdeeds are only allegations, so a measured response would be appropriate. DeLay, Frist, and Rove should receive due process. I do recall, however, that many Christian leaders and the religious media did not manifest any such restraint during the moral ineptitude of the Clinton era. At the time, we at Sojourners joined others in the religious world to express our concern — for example, go back to a piece written by Jim Wallis in 1998 titled, "Seeking Moral Consistency." At the time, Jim chided liberal religious leaders: "Why have churches and church leaders been so quiet in this crisis of morality? ...Could it be that this too falls out along political lines? Are those church leaders most sympathetic to Clinton's agenda unlikely to offer much comment on the many ethical issues involved here? Are only those opposed to the president's political agenda ready to speak challenging words to the White House? What are our primary colors?"

It would be comforting to observe that same desire for moral consistency in our body politic at the moment. To be frank, I do not expect Focus on the Family, The 700 Club, or any other influential media network of religious conservatives to raise a red flag about political corruption in the Republican Party any time soon. The specter of political power seems too enticing, too close within reach, to be held back by traditional values such as honesty and integrity. Oh, woe to us, that we shall we gain the whole world, yet lose our own soul.

David Batstone is Executive Editor for Sojourners.

Informant: Andrea Ball


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Oktober 2005

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