Former Illinois govenor George Ryan is not just another hack politician trying to use Christianity for his own purposes. Ryan is a master user, a disgusting national role model, a con artist who paints the moral pictures we have come to expect from many of our politicians.

George Ryan is the former Republican governor of Illinoiswho pardoned a whole pacel of death row inmates on his last day in office a few years ago. He wiped out the death penalty by unadulterated fiat, at least for a time. Defending his actions again this week, while speaking in a Methodist Church, Ryan said that he did this because "Jesus told us to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek." Well, thanks George for the lesson in biblical ethics.

George Ryan is scheduled to stand trial this September on federal corruption charges. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass noted in today’s Tribune that Ryan is "reaching out to just any voter" these days as he tries to impress potential jurors who might sit in judgement on his actions. Says Kass, "He is reaching out to the jury pool, looking for that one juror, most likley a black potential juror, to remember that Ryan put a moratorium on the death penalty and released the prisoners–most of them minorities and some wrongfully convicted–from Death Row."

Ryan seemed to get religion when he found himself in deep legal trouble. Says columnist John Kass, an Orthodox Christian who often understands the intersection of public faith and politics, "It was TV redemption, slick and emotional but hollow, since he didn’t confess a thing."

The charge against Ryan stems from allegations of massive corruption that transpired during his time as  Illinois secretary of state, prior to his election as governor. Several who worked with Ryan have already been convicted and are already doing time.

Some of you may recall that Ryan’s real problems began when a terrible highway crash took the lives of six children who were burned alive in an accident caused by debris that fell from a truck that was being illegally driven because the secretary-of-state’s office had issued a license based upon bribes.

This story is especially important to me because the parents of those children, Scott and Janet Willis, are good friends. The pain they suffered has been handled with Christian grace. But humanly speaking this should never have happened. Someone, and probably quite a few someones, is responsible and should be brought to justice for this horrible crime. There is quite a bit of evidence that this bribe scheme was wide ranging and had not the Willis children died tragically it might never have made the news in such a big way.

What truly disgusts me is that George Ryan now uses a pulpit to make his case for potential jurors. This is the same "Christian" who shouted down his critics during his campaign for governor seven years ago and later brushed off Scott Willis at a prayer meeting. Ryan never showed an ounce of compassion for the Willis family and frankly cared only about promoting and protecting George Ryan.

So, what kind of church invited this man to speak? Well, a liberal one that celebrates his anti-death penalty stance as the great accomplishment of his public life. Talk about "the pot call in the kettle black."

Kass rightly refers to Ryan’s efforts as "a public deposit in the Bank of Media Compassion." That about says it all. Frankly I am growing sick of public figures who use the media to promote this kind of religious faith and pratice. How dumb do these folks think we are?

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  1. Nathan Petty August 6, 2005 at 3:26 pm

    “How dumb do these folks think we are?”
    Unfortunately, these folks have a very accurate picture of how dumb we are. “We” are very dumb, very self-centered, and we (Christians included) continue to elect men and women who will give us something. I live in a “conservative” congressional district whose representative, the chairman of the ways and means committee, just delivered a disproportionate share of the recently passed pork barrel transportation bill. Our “conservative” reaction? Thrill and thanksgiving, irrespective of the immoral consequences to our children and grandchildren. Thanks for your post.

  2. K. Darrell August 8, 2005 at 8:30 am

    Good Post, John!
    Unfortunately the electorate and most Christians are “dumb” respecting the Bible and, more importantly, Jesus. They/we don’t know how to respond to his “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemies” cliches. And, I can already hear them say, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” and “judge not lest ye be judged.”
    Jesus is an ahistorical Martin Luther King Jr. or Ghandi in the mind of most Americans, a “civil rights” leader of sorts. A good moral teacher breaking with the status quo, esp. the “self-righteous” status quo of religion.

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