The Truth, Mainly - 05/19/1997

Inner Cynic sees — horrors! — politics in March for Jesus
by Leon Satterfield

I've still got a headache over all the controversy about the March for Jesus on Saturday. I yearn for simple answers, for nice answers. So I do what I always do when I need simplicity and niceness: I rummage around in the closet of my psyche trying to get in touch with my Inner Child. He's usually hiding behind the box of neuroses labeled "Wetting my pants in first grade."

But instead of finding my Inner Child, I find my Inner Cynic.

"Psst," he says. "Back here in the corner with your Baptist Guilt Complex."

"Nobody says 'psst' anymore," I tell him. "And don't disturb that Guilt Complex. I've already got a headache. What is it this time?"

"Just wondering," he says "about your take on the guv and the mayor jumping on the March for Jesus bandwagon."

"So what's to get a take on?" I say. "It's simple. They like Jesus so much they forgot about separation of church and state."

As soon as I say it, my headache feels all better. It sounds so simple and so nice that I figure maybe I got in touch with my Inner Child without realizing it.

My Inner Cynic, of course, snorts.

"If they like Jesus so much," he says, "why don't they pay attention to what he says in the Sermon on the Mount?"

He's going to quote scripture. I hate it when my Inner Cynic quotes scripture.

"That's where he tells the disciples to knock off public displays of piety," he says. "That's where he tells them to knock off blowing loud horns to call attention to their righteousness. That's where he tells them 'when you pray, don't be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on street corners.' Check it out: Matthew 6:1-7."

It's getting complicated again. But I fight back.

"Here's what else Jesus tells the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount," I say. "'You are like light for the whole world. . . .Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.' Check it out: Matthew 5:14-16."

I feel better.

"You quote your scripture," he says, "and I'll quote mine."

Which is a very cynical thing to say, and I get confused again.

"OK," I say. "What's your take on the guv and the mayor proclaiming Saturday as March for Jesus Day? I stand by mine: it's not that they love church-state separation less, but that they love Jesus more."

"You got it half right," he says, the wicked glint in his eye shining out of the dark closet. "It's not that they love church-state separation less, but that they love votes more."


He looks conspiratorial and beckons me deeper into the closet.

"Politics," he whispers. "It's all politics."

I recoil in horror.

"Politics?" I say when I catch my breath. "You've taken your cursed cynicism too far this time. How can a March for Jesus possibly involve politics?"

"Everything involves politics when you're a politician," he says. "And the guv and the mayor are politicians. Like the judge and the governor in Alabama."

Then he explains why Judge Roy is defying higher court orders to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom and to stop praying with jurors.

"He wants the feds to drag him away kicking and screaming. It'll be on every TV in Alabama and the judge will run for governor and get elected as the Christian martyr who defied the dirty rotten secular humanist feds."

"You forget one thing," I say. "The current governor says he'll call out the National Guard to protect Judge Moore from the feds. If the judge aspires to the governorship, why would the incumbant protect him?"

"You are a child," my Inner Cynic says. "By protecting Moore from the feds, the governor thwarts his Christian martyrdom. And thus stays in office."

"Wow dowdie," I say. "That is cynical."

"It's politics," he says. "And politicians follow public opinion. That's why the guv and the mayor jumped on the March for Jesus bandwagon. If a pollster convinced them that a majority of Nebraskans are Zoroastrians, they'd jump on the March for Zoroaster bandwagon next Saturday."

"That," I say, my voice trembling with moral indignation, "is the most cynical thing you ever said and I don't want to hear any more about it."

I slam the door on the closet of my psyche. My headache's back. I try again to think of something simple and nice. But from somewhere deep in the closet, I hear my Inner Cynic snicker. And worse yet, from behind the box of neuroses, I hear even my Inner Child giggle a little.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.

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