God is going to have to make a very big decision soon. This is really a heavy one. Not so simple as parting the Red Sea or turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt or the burning bush or the loaves and the fishes or other acts of prestidigitation. This one is going to involve a lot of moral courage, an area, I am told, where God has a big investment. God is going to have to get into politics. Not just ordinary politics, but the most dicey political arena in God’s universe, that being the race to pick the man who will next be the leader of what is laughingly called the civilized world.
God cannot escape it.
No hiding behind the door. No checking out for lunch. God clearly has to make a choice. God has to declare either for the Democratic party or the Republican party. Of the six Democratic candidates for president, Rev.
Jesse Jackson is the only one running for the second time. Of the six Republican candidates, Rev.
Pat Robertson is the only one running on the religious ticket.
Now. Something clearly has to be cleared up here.
God has been creeping further and further into American public life. President Reagan (who almost never goes to church) brings God into every podium, signing off by asking God to bless his audience—Rotarians, aluminum siding salesmen, arms dealers or whatever. It is not known what God thinks of this. Every championship locker room captured on television gives evidence, from some sweating hired assassin, that God somehow ordained the winning touchdown. (It is not known if God prefers three downs, or four.)
So here we have this dilemma. (Rather, it is God’s dilemma, not ours. God’s going to have to make the decision-thank God. I don’t want it.) Jesse informs his parishioners (i.e. delegates to the presidential nomination convention in Atlanta next summer) that God has approved his search for the White House. But Pat tells his
faithful (i.e. potential heavies at the Republican convention in New Orleans next summer) that God is on his side.
Clearly, one of these men is lying. Do we want a liar in the White House? The American people (i.e. the American press) have already dismissed one philanderer, Gary Hart, and one plagiarist, Joe Biden, from the presidential contest. God is going to have to expose one of these two chaps as not having the pipeline to Heaven.
They are interesting contrasts, these two preachers seeking power. (We will leave aside the coincidental androgy-
nous nature of their names. “Jesse” and “Pat” could be female or male.) Jesse Jackson is from the South, the Carolinas, where he was a mean quarterback in college. Pat Robertson is an Ivy League product: Yale.
Both have been drawn sideways into the current American slavering speculation about the sex lives of their presidential contenders. Preacher Robertson, after admitting he fudged on his war record, has had to confess faking his wedding date, on account his first child arrived some seven months too soon. Jesse, followed by persistent rumors about womanizing, was helped a lot by his wife who said, “I don’t examine the sheets.”
This link between priapism and politics has long been a problem (as God must know) that has plagued those public figures plugged into God. Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry satire written in 1927 is as current today as Jimmy Bakker in his Florida motel tryst with Jessica (“I am not a bimbo”)
Hahn, who has just proved she is by moving into the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
Scott Young has just published a book on the incredible life of Gordon Sinclair, detailing how he shared not only bottles of gin but a bed with Aimee Semple McPherson, the famed evangelist who was a precursor of Robertson. John the Baptist was the precursor of Christ, and Aimee, in her movable circus tent, paved the way for Robertson, the sincere televangelist with teeth and the faked Korean battle record.
The reason that this is going to be a very tough decision for God is that these guys are not inconsequential. Because there are two sixpacks of presidential hopefuls, no one is emerging with any excitement to grab the American mind. No Kennedy here, no FDR, no Reagan. The public, and the convention delegates, are, well, blah, over-blowdried, interchangeable candidates named Babbitt and Dukakis and Gephardt and Kemp and Gore.
No one has a real, growing following. Except Jesse and Pat. Jesse is goo ing to get the solid black | vote, enough that it is g conceded he will win the Democrats’ “Super Tuesday” primary, which will have a dozen ; southern states voting on the same day in March. Pat, his reputation and his fortune built on his TV audience of open-mouthed devotees, will bring to the Republican convention a committed clutch of Americans who are convinced-thanks to Pat—that they have an avenue paved to Heaven.
It is very hard to argue with such certainty. Neither of the two preachers can win their party’s nomination—the one because he is black, the other because he is a telegenic screwball. But because they can command such a dedicated following, they can exert a formidable influence on each party’s electoral platform—abortion or antiabortion, civil rights, school prayer, all those issues that obsess the world’s greatest democracy.
Neither preacher, trying to cross the great divide from the pulpit to politics, is going to be president. But both claim a link to God. The pressing question: is God a registered voter?
Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for Southam News.
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