Bad company

The National Prayer Breakfast, sponsored annually by a conservative Christian organization called The Fellowship, has invited David Bahati, the author of the Ugandan bill to kill gays, to join them this year. The President of the United States traditionally attends and makes a few remarks, and it is rumored that Bahati may be invited to speak.

The Fellowship is comprised of America’s big league evangelicals: James Dobson, Tim LaHaye, folk of that sort. They don’t ordinarily spend time hanging-out with legislative schleps from African pestholes, so there can be no reason to invite him but to embarrass the president.

If Obama attends, then he implicitly agrees that Bahati is fit company for decent folk and further alienates an already-impatient gay constituency going into the 2010 elections. If he doesn’t, he gives the loonies cause to revive the Muslim/unAmerican bellows. It’s one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t things.

There is a third way, though: He could go and give Bahati a public dressing-down. He could affirm that the moral sanction for the American Revolution is the natural right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and that the whole design of American governance is geared toward preserving it. He could publicly condemn Uganda’s brutal legislation as an affront to American ideals.

And he could get away with it. If he wraps himself in the flag and the Declaration of Independence, and adds something about Christian love-love-love, and something or other that Jesus may have said, it will confuse and disarm the Palinite loonies; they haven’t a clue that the Declaration and the Bible are in opposition, and the story will go stale as they furrow their brows and try to puzzle it out.

And most Americans, if they notice the story or care at all, will have no complaint if Obama condemns summary execution of gays. Eighty percent of us might call ourselves Christian, but nearly all of that 80% have too much sense and decency to insist upon trying to live like one.

It’s just as Mark Twain said: “They are better than their Bible.”

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