Todays Washington Post has a story on Michael Gerson, Bushs chief speechwriter. Heres Gersons defense of the religious references in Bushs speeches, as reported by Alan Cooperman:
[O]n the whole, the speechwriter argued, Bushs references to the role of providence in human affairs have been carefully calibrated and fully within the tradition of American civic religion. He said that Bush, like other presidents from George Washington to Bill Clinton, has expressed trust in God without claiming to understand all of Gods ways.
And heres Gersons response to those who think that Bush speaks in religious code:
"Theyre not code words; theyre our culture," he said. "Its not a code word when I put a reference to T.S. Eliots Four Quartets in our Whitehall speech [in London on Nov. 19, 2003]; its a literary reference. Just because some people dont get it doesnt mean its a plot or a secret."
Heres the final tidbit, on the Presidents frequent assertion that freedom is Gods gift to humanity:
Gerson said the president wrote those words. They are, he said, a repudiation of the kind of "American exceptionalism" that holds that God has chosen the United States as his special instrument, and an echo of Abraham Lincolns assertion that Americans should strive to be on Gods side rather than claiming that God is on their side.
Required reading for students of religion and politics, and a refreshing break from the myopic nonsense about Bushs religion that often appears in the mainstream media.