Abortion, Alberto and Bush
I recently gave my friend Alberto a ride to church, and on the way he spotted a ‘Bush for President’ sign in someone’s yard.
‘Yeah, Bush good President,’ said Alberto, who speaks English as a second language.
‘Why do you think George Bush is a good President?’ I asked.
‘Because abortion is bad and Bush against that,’ he replied.
‘I know he is against abortion,’ I said. ‘But why does that make him a good President?’
‘He has good religion, he’s good man,’ replied Alberto. ‘Do you like?’
This is what I told him.
‘Alberto, let me begin with a little history lesson about this country. If I use any words that you don’t understand, just stop me and I will try to explain them to you.
‘In 1620, the Pilgrims sailed the Mayflower across the Atlantic to this land to escape control of the Church of England. They wanted the freedom to worship and believe any way they chose without being persecuted for it. They found that freedom in America.
‘Years later, the right to that freedom was written into the Constitution of this country. We became a democracy. The people elect our leaders; therefore, our leaders must represent ALL the people, even though those people may not share the same religious beliefs. In the United States, we have always elected Presidents who are religious, but we do not elect religious Leaders. That only happens in countries like Iran. It is not the President’s job in this country to legislate religious beliefs.
‘You see, Alberto, some churches in this country are against abortion, but some are not. There will probably always be some disagreement about abortion because of differing religious beliefs. But we can’t let one church try to dictate the religious beliefs of this country just be-cause we elected a President who belongs to that church. If we put a church in charge of us, what church would it be? The Methodists? Boy, wouldn’t that irk the Baptists? Or maybe we could put the Amish in charge. Put away the Honda, get out the horse. And what about the Pope? Let’s face it, if we made him President, wouldn’t he make a mass of things?
‘It’s not right that our President be allowed to use a religious issue like abortion to divide this country. He’s the guy that is supposed to bring us together for the good of the nation. We are a nation of immigrants, people from all over the world, of every religious belief. We must be tolerant, and we absolutely must have tolerant leaders.’
‘What is tolerant?’ asked Alberto.
‘Being tolerant is to allow others to be different, to have beliefs that differ from your own. On Sunday, you go to your church, I will go to mine, and the President can go to his. But on Monday morning, he has to be the President to all the people, and all churches. That is his job. He must respect all beliefs and never legislate his own. Being a minister is not his job. We don’t elect our ministers; they are chosen by someone of much higher authority. We must keep our government and our church separate.
‘You see, Alberto, if this becomes a country of religious leaders in-stead of an elected government, by the people and for the people, it would be just like the Church of England all over again, and we might want to think about building a huge fleet of Mayflowers to search for another place to worship freely, another America.’
‘That would be too bad,’ said Alberto. ‘I have begun to really like this one.’
Editor’s note: Author Lee Cable of Elizabeth says this is a true story. He and his friend, Neil Brewer, are presently working on a series of stories for a book about children who have benefitted from the Crusade for Children.