This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

September 14, 2005

Government, Religion, and Reality

Recent events surrounding Hurricane Katrina will raise serious new issues in the United States about the separation between church and state. In a country where the Supreme Court declared that the Ten Commandments must not be displayed in government buildings, political leaders continue to abdicate their responsibility to religious beliefs. Citizens, increasingly angered by real and perceived deficiencies in response, will become increasingly impatient and irritated with religious conservatism. In times like these, people want to see action, not blind faith.

As Katrina roared toward the Gulf Coast with the fury and death-dealing destructive power of a Category 5 hurricane, Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana urged citizens of her state to “pray the hurricane down to a Category 2.” Many Americans will question calling for divine intervention instead of focusing communication on evacuation and emergency response.

On Monday, September 5, 2005, Associated Press reported: “Making his third visit to the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged states, Bush stopped first at the Bethany World Prayer Center, a huge hall half covered with pallets and half filled with dining tables. Blanco visited at the same time, but she and Bush kept apart as they walked around talking to people.” The visits of politicians to a religious facility place a high importance on religion in disaster response.

On Sunday, September 4, visiting her home state, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, attended religious services in Whistler, Alabama. When invited to say a few words by the pastor, the high-ranking cabinet official who represents the United States to the world’s governments, Rice made a statement that evidenced the attitude of our nation’s leaders. “The Lord Jesus Christ is going to come on time, if we just wait,” was Rice’s statement, according to the New York Times.

Religious leaders speaking from their pulpits are challenging how lower socio-economic populations in affected areas were seemingly left behind. While initial calls relate strongly to racial implications, it will be interesting to watch if the faith-based community gains traction in the halls of government. If it happens---or doesn’t happen---what does this mean for the influence of religion on political leaders?

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