Texas Gov. George W. Bush is a devout and sincere follower of Jesus
Christ, and the Republican presidential candidate is not using his faith
to get votes, Bishop T.D. Jakes told a national TV audience this week.
Jakes, who pastors The Potter's House in Dallas, shared his insights
on Bush during a panel discussion about the presidential race on "Larry
King Live" on CNN, July 24. Jakes said he is nonpartisan so that he can
"minister to both sides of the bird."
King questioned Jakes on the nature of Bush's faith, to which Jakes
responded: "As best I can tell, he seems to take his faith very
seriously. He did so before he ever began to pursue the presidency. It's no secret that down through the years he has ascribed to some element in various
degrees of faith."
Jakes said he first met Bush after repentant murderer Carla Faye
Tucker was executed in Texas. Jakes lunched with Bush and spent several hours
discussing Bush's decision to allow Tucker to be executed. Jakes opposed
that decision. Bush has since visited The Potter's House and
participated in the ministry's dedication of 400 acres of land in Dallas.
"We've encountered each other on several occasions," Jakes said. "One
of the things that I noticed about him is he's been very transparent. He
tends to be outgoing and transparent, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of
"He has been very open, not only about his positives but about his
negatives," Jakes said. "And I don't think that he's using the Christian
cliché to win both. Having interacted with Gov. Bush personally, I found
him to be a very believable, straightforward person."
Jakes also said he has met Al Gore and is impressed with him, as well.
"I think the two men are very, very different," he said without
elaborating. Jakes said he's pleased that both Gore and Bush are at least vocally supportive of more government partnerships with faith-based
organizations to bring healing to inner cities or neglected communities.
"Both of them are using that kind of rhetoric," Jakes said. "It's
going to be interesting in the days to come to see how much of that rhetoric
Jakes bristled at King's inquiry as to whether he considered himself a
member of the religious right. King: "Do you consider yourself part of
the religious right?"
Jakes: "I certainly do not. I have tried to remain nonpartisan. And I
think it's very stereotypical to think that all Christians are religious
right or left. There are many of us who have chosen to remain
nonpartisan and chosen it as an opportunity to minister to both sides of the bird and to care about the whole country at large."
King: "So you're endorsing no candidate this year?"
Jakes: "I'm not saying I'm not endorsing a candidate. I'm saying that
I want to remain nonpartisan in my ability as a minister. Personally,
certainly, we have our preference. But I don't think the pulpit ought to
be used to hurl preferences toward people."