Sunday, March 19, 2000

How do they stand Pat?

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Presidential candidate Pat Buchanan came to Solid Rock Church in Monroe on Monday night, and I just had to go because I'm an intolerant right-wing Christian bigot.

        Since I defended a Christian's role in politics last week, I have been lectured, scolded, mocked — and thanked.

        Most callers said, “Amen, brother.” But most who wrote letters nearly used up the national supply of umbrage. They were shocked, offended, even “enraged,” accusing me of imposing my religion on everyone. “How dare you say your faith is best?” they wanted to know.

        Sorry. Next time I will impose this: All Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Hottentots shall henceforth stipulate that all religions are equal — just 31 flavors of butter pecan, rocky road and vanilla gods with a very small “g.” No god can be almighty because that might damage the self-esteem of the other gods.

        You can have your religion, but don't put too much faith in it.

        If that sounds hopelessly lost in the briar patch of stupidity, no wonder: It's the small-“g” gospel preached in the most “inclusive” churches today.

        No thanks. My choice is El Supremo, Creator of the Universe, the Undefeated Heavyweight Champ of All Creation, the No. 1 Seed in the Tournament of Life.

        But these columns are my opinions — the things I believe in — not tablets carved in stone (see Moses). And readers can take them or leave them in the nearest bird cage. Or they can reply in letters that we publish — without attaching any snide editor's notes about who is really being intolerant (lead me not into temptation).

        But for those who want to put a force field around politics to keep out religion: You might as well try to ban money. (Yes, I know, they're working on that too.)

        It was no coincidence that Pat Buchanan came to Solid Rock Church — a sprawling warehouse of worship where a cast of thousands gathers on Sundays, lit by the glow of a blue neon dove from above.

        His promise that “I will appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices” may scare the chardonnay out of the pro-abortion crowd, but it had the Solid Rock crowd of 500 on their feet cheering.

        They also applauded when he described his first act as president: “I will turn to Bill Clinton and say, "Sir, you have the right to remain silent'.”

        They loved it when he said he'd shut down the National Endowment for the (anti-Christian) Arts “and fumigate the building.”

        Some eyelids may have drooped a bit when he went off on GATT, NAFTA and the WTO, but heads nodded vigorously when the Cultural Warrior vowed to balance a multi-billion trade deficit by telling China, “You fellows have sold your last pair of chopsticks in any mall in America.”

        I guess the Buchananites thought, “You da man to tell China to get stuffed and stop persecuting Christians.”

        I just thought, “That's a lot of chopsticks. And why haven't I seen those chopsticks stores in any malls?”

        I also thought that Pat Buchanan plays voter outrage and paranoia the way the Phantom of the Opera plays a pipe organ.

        He reminds me of someone's cranky uncle, working over illegal immigrants, the federal reserve and the U.N., while working on his third tumbler of Black Jack.

        And his Reform Party supporters sometimes seem like a jigsaw puzzle convention trying to assemble a picture with pieces from 400 different boxes — here's a piece from the Council on Foreign Relations, another from the IRS, a corner of One World Government, part of a black helicopter . . .

        Pat winks and nods at them all — the ultimate agnostic. All theories about corrupt government are created equal, as long as everyone is implicated except Lone Ranger Reformer Pat.

        “There is a cultural war for the soul of America and it has the aspect of a religious war,” he said. It may be true.

        Listening to the questions from the crowd, I decided a lot of people are ready to battle the government, the culture, the media. They feel like their faith, their beliefs, are no longer welcome in America, that the dominant religion is the Church of Tolerate Anything Or Else. They feel like they've been kicked around enough.

        It should come as no surprise if they flock to a candidate who is willing to kick back.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.