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Bush Remarks at 2nd Annual Catholic Prayer Breakfast

This morning President Bush spoke briefly at the 2nd Annual Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The president’s remarks demonstrate his clear understanding of the connection between the nation’s founding principles and the religious convictions of the American people. While some may be troubled by his appearance before a sectarian religious group (a Roman Catholic prayer breakfast), his remarks show he understands the need to speak to a nation of many faiths. That said, he also is not ashamed to speak as a man of faith to a nation that includes citizens with little or no faith. Here’s a sampler:

This morning we also reaffirm that freedom rests on the self-evident truths about human dignity. Pope Benedict XVI recently warned that when we forget these truths, we risk sliding into a dictatorship of relativism where we can no longer defend our values. Catholics and non-Catholics alike can take heart in the man who sits on the chair of St. Peter, because he speaks with affection about the American model of liberty rooted in moral conviction.

Discussions - 4 Comments

I’m not disturbed by President Bush’s attendance at a prayer breakfast just as I am not offended that President Jefferson attended religious services in the Congress. I’m not sure how this would create a national church or create a "theocracy." He is respectful of the pluralist religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment. George Washington wrote several letters to sectarian groups praising religious liberty but asking for their civic virtue.

I think President Bush has recognized that people of all religious faiths have in common the pursuit of objective truth against the growing relativism in (post)modern thought. He also correctly recognizes that God and objective truth is the basis of a natural rights republic and the principles in the Declaration of Independence, which is the basis of our liberty - an ordered, virtuous, moral liberty of the Founding.

One of the things about Bush’s rhetoric--at least the stuff I catch on C-Span’s radio simulcasts when I’m in my car--that I find interesting but which neither his critics nor his supporters seem to remark upon much is that Bush often goes out of his way to say explicitly that "freedom to worship" includes freedom NOT to worship.

I’m not aware of a previous American president who has ever dwelt on the public legitimacy or acceptability of unbelief as an expression of "freedom of religion."

What makes this doubly interesting is a) the caricature of Bush as a theocrat by his unhinged leftist foes (OK, it’s actually not that interesting, more like shrill, predictable, silly, and generally over-the-top); and b) Bush’s own indubitable status as a man of warm, unquestionably sincere, and fairly conventional Christian piety.

Bush is in my view the most straightforwardly and personally pious president since Carter, and before him, maybe Woodrow Wilson. Of modern GOP presidents, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan all had far more distant and murky relationships with conventional organized religion than Bush 43 does. Yet none, that I’m aware of, made such a point of including unbelievers in their speeches praising freedom of worship (Ike made a famously indifferentist quip once, but he said that he wanted everyone to go to church or synagogue, even if he didn’t care which one.)

sorry, in my 2nd graf I meant to type:

"I’m not aware of a president who has ever dwelt SO OPENLY AND CONTINUALLY on the public legitimacy or acceptability of unbelief, etc."

The President of the United States is the president of the entire nation, and all its inhabitants, whether they voted for him or not. We only have one president at a time (sorry, Hillary), and he serves all of us. There is no group who he should be unavailable to, just as there is no group he’s unaccountable to. There are tens of millions of Roman Catholic Citizens, just as there are huge numbers of Baptists, Methodists, Mormons, Jews, and Muslims. The numbers don’t matter - they are all citizens, and should be treated equally in the sight of the President. The left-wing moonbat patrol believes in imposing and maintaining divisions among citizens - this President doesn’t.

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