Prof panel talks Bush, religion
By Dan Perry
Last Thursday saw the first of a series of weekly professor
panels on Western’s campus, a discussion entitled “The
Crusades of George W. Bush,” in the University Community
Centre CentreSpot lounge.
Bryce Traister, a professor of English and film studies, and
history professor Andrew Johnston discussed the interplay of
church and state in contemporary American politics.
Speaking first, Traister emphasized President Bush’s
frequent discussion of freedom and revealed its reliance upon
what he called a “national treasury” of religious
undertones to make the case for Bush’s political goals,
mobilizing religious interests in the interest of the state.
“In Bush’s speeches, [there is] a theme of America
as redeemer nation, [which is] eroding the separation of church
and state,” he said.
Johnston echoed Traister’s speech, explaining the American
president’s goals: “What Bush wants [is] that all
Americans unite their theology with the interests of the nation,” he
said, adding this was a threat to freedom of consciousness.
Both professors expressed some dismay at the lack of forthcoming
debate, as they were largely in agreement with each other.
This brought mixed reactions from students in attendance.
“It’s unfortunate there weren’t two sides,” said
Sarah Gingerich, a second-year history student.
Mandy Alves, a fourth-year arts student, expressed some disappointment
as well. “I was hoping that somebody would disagree.
I was hoping there’d be some kind of conflict.”
“They still played both sides of the coin really well,
though,” said D.M. Stoneman, a second-year philosophy
and psychology student.
Both professors, though they agreed the interplay of religion
and American politics did pose problems, acknowledged some
positive results of religion’s influence in the political
“In democracy, we seek temporary agreements. This [interplay]
is only a problem when the authority of a supreme being is
called on to give solutions,” Johnston said.
The series resumes this week with a discussion entitled “How
9/11 has Affected Your Human Rights in Canada,” featuring
prominent defense lawyer Rocco Galati.