Brian Lee has a good point that religious faith is not synonymous with irrationality and that religious bigotry, like sin, is an equal opportunity affliction. I am reminded of Bill Maher’s remark in an NPR interview (plugging “Religiulous”) during the 2008 Presidential campaign that Sarah Palin was unfit for public office on the grounds that she practiced “witchcraft.” He was referring to how her Word of Faith pastor prayed the demons away on her behalf. This, and I am sure much else, may have been enough to keep Palin from a Reformed communion table. But how it casts doubt on her political abilities isn’t quite as clear. Religious bigotry is one way to explain the suggestion though.
But when some wear their Christian faith on their sleeve in order to gain votes they make themselves perfectly open targets for criticism. And so when Michele Bachmann takes a page from John Piper’s playbook entitled “Discerning Providence,” one can’t help but think about Belgic Confession Article 13 entitled “The Doctrine of God’s Providence,” particularly the third paragraph:
We believe that this good God, after he created all things, did not abandon them to chance or fortune but leads and governs them according to his holy will, in such a way that nothing happens in this world without his orderly arrangement.
Yet God is not the author of, nor can he be charged with, the sin that occurs. For his power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible that he arranges and does his work very well and justly even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.
We do not wish to inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend. But in all humility and reverence we adore the just judgments of God, which are hidden from us, being content to be Christ’s disciples, so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word, without going beyond those limits.
This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort since it teaches us that nothing can happen to us by chance but only by the arrangement of our gracious heavenly Father. He watches over us with fatherly care, keeping all creatures under his control, so that not one of the hairs on our heads (for they are all numbered) nor even a little bird can fall to the ground without the will of our Father.
In this thought we rest, knowing that he holds in check the devils and all our enemies, who cannot hurt us without his permission and will.
For that reason we reject the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God involves himself in nothing and leaves everything to chance.
Of course, Bachmann doesn’t subscribe the Belgic. Neither does Piper. So, as with Palin’s dabbling in exorcism, the tick to “…inquire with undue curiosity into what he does that surpasses human understanding and is beyond our ability to comprehend” is probably only troublesome to those who do and thus understand such bravado to be contrary to Scripture. And, with apologies again to Maher, while it’s not nearly enough to call into question her ability to civilly govern, it does at least help make the case that when politicos wear their faith on their sleeves chances are almost always better than not that they will end up saying something downright silly, like tying natural disasters to heaven trying to convey whose political conclusions better be embraced—or else. Faith surely isn’t irrational, but faith on the political sleeve sure seems to make it look that way.