Glenn Greenwald has a piece up today about Bush and the neocons. I want to highlight and expand on one part of what he writes:
"To do this, they have convinced the President that he has tapped into a much higher authority than the American people -- namely, God-mandated, objective morality -- and as long as he adheres to that (which is achieved by continuing his militaristic policies in the Middle East, whereby he is fighting Evil and defending Good), God and history will vindicate him:On one subject the president needed no lessons from Roberts or anyone else in the room: how to handle pressure. "I just don't feel any," he says with the calm conviction of a man who believes the constituency to which he must ultimately answer is the Divine Presence. Don't misunderstand: God didn't tell him to put troops in harm's way in Iraq; belief in Him only goes so far as to inform the president that there is good and evil. It is then his job to figure out how to promote the former and destroy the latter. And he is confident that his policies are doing just that.
Or, as luncheon attendee Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute recalled (also in The Weekly Standard) the President saying: "I want to have my conscience clear with Him. Then it doesn't matter so much what others think." (...)
Nothing matters -- not the disapproval of the American people of the President's actions nor rising anti-Americanism around the world. He should simply ignore all of that and continue to obey the mandates of neoconservatism because that is what is Good and his God will be pleased." (emphasis in original.)
Glenn seems to suggest that there's a problem with thinking that what really matters is not what other people think of one's actions, but what God thinks. This would of course be true if one worshipped a malevolent God, who commanded that we do dreadful things. (Similarly, if you cared about what other people thought, but all those other people were sadists, you'd be in trouble.)
But if the person under discussion accepts any one of the major religions, whose Gods are (basically) good, then I don't think it's a problem to care more about what God thinks than what other people think. In fact, God being God, it would be odd if a religious person didn't think this. In particular, it isn't a problem to have a President who is Christian and believes this. Christianity, after all, is a religion whose God commands compassion, and is deeply concerned about justice.
What is a problem is to have someone in office who claims to care only about what God thinks and how God will judge him, but who doesn't actually take this idea seriously. Someone like that will use the thought that only God's opinion matters simply to dismiss human criticism, without actually worrying about God. He will regard God as a convenient excuse, someone he can assume agrees with him. But to believe in a God who is, in fact, you, or who is so unreal to you that you don't need to bother taking His views seriously, is not faith; it is the opposite of faith.