2016-07-27

Religion has come up time and time again during this year's campaign. Beliefnet has pulled together a compendium of quotations and speeches on the topic by both major candidates. Here, you'll find things that Republican candidate George W. Bush has said about religion, organized by topic.

Index:

  • Personal faith
  • Religion and the Election
  • Education and Family Values
  • Faith-Based Organizations
  • Catholicism and Other Faiths
  • The Death Penalty
  • Abortion

    Personal Faith:
    On being a "lowly sinner":
    Q: And that notion that you're a lowly sinner, how do you think that affects the way you approach government?
  • Bush: Well, I treat people with respect. I don't feel like I'm better than anybody else. I feel like I have the ability to lead. I wouldn't be seeking the presidency if I wasn't confident that I could do the job.

    Q: So you're not that lowly?

    Bush: Each of us have different talents and--yeah, sinner, not lowly sinner. But you know, I respect other people, and that's what's needed in Washington, D.C., right now. This nation needs somebody to heal some wounds and bring people together. It's too bitter and too divided in Washington. And I think I'm the man to do that.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    On personal faith/compassionate conservatism:
    Q: In what ways did your personal faith affect your notion of what it means to be a compassionate conservative?

    Bush: A lot. A genuine philosophy reflects the experiences of a person. And in my case, I was raised a Christian, recommitted myself to Christ. Got into the Bible. My life changed in many ways. An outward manifestation is I quit drinking. I was a more dedicated, more focused person. Not to say I wasn't a dedicated person beforehand, but it was a life-changing moment.

    I also recognize that a walk is a walk, I mean, it's a never-ending journey. And I've got a lot of imperfections like anybody else. And the more I got into the Bible, the more that admonition "Don't try to take a speck out of your neighbor's eye when you've got a log in your own" becomes more and more true, particularly for those of us in public life. And so my style, my focus, and many of the issues that I talk about, you know, are reinforced by my religion.

    You see, if you believe that we're all sinners, as opposed to you're a sinner and I'm not, then I think it helps you, at least for me. It's made me a better governor. It helps bring people together, and that's what is needed on some very practical issues that the country faces. A classic example is Medicare and prescription drugs.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    On personal faith/ religion:
    Q: How would you describe the change that occurred in your life as a result of your conversion experience?

    Bush: A Bible verse that is important to me is the one that says I shouldn't try to take a speck out of someone else's eye if I have a log in my own. I like that verse because it reminds me that we're all sinners. When you admit you're a sinner, it is recognition that there is a need. And that need, for me, was met through Christ.

    You can be a sinner and live under a bridge. Or you can be a sinner and be the governor of Texas. To me it is an understanding that the human condition requires a power greater than self. In 1986 I came to that realization. I had been raised a Christian, but my faith was reconfirmed in a much more powerful, personal way--because I sought, and I found.

    Regarding my encounter with Billy Graham: He was a messenger. I can't really think of the words he said, but I know he lit a spark inside me that kindled into a flame over time. Billy Graham planted a seed, and then I went back to Midland [Texas] and got involved in Community Bible Study--which is a very active national program. That's when I began to read the Bible every day. Now I seek God's guidance. But of course, as a politician, I am mindful of the fact that my faith doesn't make me better than anyone else.

    How has my faith manifested itself? I am more mindful of the needs of others. I also have a certain confidence about my life. It is not dependent upon material success, or electoral success for that matter. I am going to fight like heck and give this campaign my best shot, and I hope I will be the president. But should it not work out, I understand that there is a force greater than myself--and it gives me great comfort.
    From "God and the Governor," Charisma Magazine interview, August 29, 2000

    Q: How would you describe your faith, your religion?

    Bush: Well, that may be obvious. It's not an easy answer. I'll start with the mundane. I'm a Methodist. I'm an active church member. I have been so-I mean, I attend church, I like church, I like-I've heard great preachers, I've heard not-so-great preachers. I love the hymns, I read the Bible daily. I am this year. Generally what I've done is I've got what's called the One-Year Bible, by Tyndale, and I read it every other year all the way through. And in the off years I'll pick and choose different parts of the Bible. I pray on a daily basis. I've got a structure to my life where religion plays a role. I understand religion is a walk, it's a journey. And I fully recognize that I'm a sinner, just like you. That's why Christ died. He died for my sins and your sins.
    From US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    "I'm mindful of telling people that when asked about my religion that I'm mindful of walking that walk. That's the best thing I can do as president. And when you walk the walk, people of faith will walk right with you."
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On favorite political philosopher:
    Asked what "political philosopher" he most admires, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who is considered the GOP front-runner, replied, "Christ, because he changed my heart....When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart and changes your life."
    Times - Picayune; New Orleans, La.; Dec 25, 1999

    On Christianity:
    "You know, people search for something good in times of darkness, and our faith provides that. That's a wonderful thing about Christianity. There is spiritual reassurance."
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On being an evangelical:
    "I'm not even sure what the characteristics of an evangelical are in common parlance. I think if someone prays- I pray. I do. I believe in the power of prayer. I can't tell you how comforting it is to me to hear people say, "I pray for you." And it happens a lot. It does. And I say, "Thank you." I think an evangelical believes in the power of prayer.

    "I want to repeat to you something I said earlier. It's really important for somebody in my position to live the word, in this case, but also understand that people communicate with God and reach God in different ways. It just doesn't have to be my way. And I think it's really important if you're trying to unite a nation that is diverse as ours is to spend more time living the example I've learned of Christ as opposed to lecturing. And I really mean that. Obviously there's the big issue between the Christian and the Jew, the Jewish person. And I am mindful of the rich traditions and history of the Jewish faith.

    "And I am mindful of what Billy Graham one time told me, for me not to try to figure out-try to pick and choose who gets to go to heaven. And when I told you I'm a sinner- you need to take that in the figurative sense. But it is very important for people to not be haughty in their religion. And there's all kinds of admonitions in the Bible; haughtiness, rightfulness is a sin in itself."
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    On Tolerance:
    "I believe in tolerance, not in spite of my faith, but because of it.
    I believe in a God who calls us, not to judge our neighbors, but to love them.
    "I believe in grace, because I have seen it...In peace, because I have felt it...In forgiveness, because I have needed it.
    Acceptance Speech, Philadelphia, August 3, 2000

    On sin:
    "I am mindful of that Biblical admonition that if you accept Christ and then stray, the consequences are more severe than ever. Once you've received the Word, the Bible is pretty clear about somebody who strays. Listen, I'm a sinner...I'm a sinner. But that confession, that understanding, not only makes redemption possible, but it makes it easier to walk the walk. And my heart was won by Christ."
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On evil:
    Q: Are there ways in which you think that evil manifests itself other than that?

    Bush: I think the selling of smut and pornography is evil, and hatred is evil. Defacing synagogues is evil. Hate crimes are evil. Most violent crime is hate anyway. But, anyway, yes, unfortunately, that's what happened. And free will-we've been given free will, and oftentimes people make the wrong choices.
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    On prayer:
    Q: Have you ever felt like a specific prayer of yours was answered?

    Bush: Gosh, that's a very good question. I really don't pray for, you know, "Gosh, I hope I get 48% of the vote in the so-and-so primary." That's not a prayer I offer up.

    I have [felt that my prayers were answered]. I have. There's some situations where I've prayed for inner calm, and I felt calm.

    Q: Around a particular event?

    Bush: Well, for example, big press conferences at times. You'll notice, for example, I will bow my head just quietly just before I walk up to the mike. There are a lot of situations in which I find myself where there is a lot of pressure and, you know, a lot of attention, and those are moments where you just need to be clear thinking and resolute and calm.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    "I pray all kinds of places. And I meditate. I mean, prayer is--there's intercessive prayer, there's meditation. I find all kinds of places to pray. I may pray on the airplane. No one even knows it."
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    On being born again:
    Q: You've spoken of your conversion in the mid-'80s, when you became a born-again Christian, as a profound change of heart. How has that changed your politics?

    Bush: First, it changed my outlook on life. Secondly, I take great comfort and peace knowing there is an Almighty God. It helps me understand that there is a higher priority in life, ultimately, than the priorities I may have set before me.
    Catholic Digest interview, Aug. 11, 2000

    Q: I've noticed in the past when you've talked about your own faith that you've never, yourself, used the term "born again." Other people may have ascribed it to you, but I haven't seen you use that. Why is that?

    Bush: I don't know. I guess because the way I like to put it is, I rededicated my life to Christ. Either way, what matters is my beliefs. To be frank with you, I am not all that comfortable describing my faith, because in the political world, there are a lot of people who say, "Vote for me, I'm more religious than my opponent." And those kind of folks make me a little nervous.

    I think what matters is how you live your life, and as I talked at the very top of the interview, I do believe a person's religion will be reflected in frame of mind and attitude and outlook. And, you know, when you're running for president, people are always trying to get a glimpse into your soul and into your true being, and obviously religion is one way to describe who I am. But I don't spend a lot of time saying, "I'm the best candidate because I'm the most religious person."

    I'm reminded of the Biblical verse, paraphrased, probably in Texas form, but, "If you got a speck in your eye, I'm not going to try to take a speck out of you when I've got a log in my own." I'm really mindful of that. I truly am. There is a reason why I sought redemption, and it's a reason that I will always keep in front of my mind, and that is that I'm--you know, I'm a lowly sinner, and to me that's the crux of the Christian religion. It's the great promise of Jesus Christ.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    Q: Would you say you've had a born- would you call your experience born-again?

    Bush: I call it a renewal of faith. But I could say that. I would say that. But you've got to understand, a born-again experience connotes a moment. And I would say my experience was the planting of a seed, where something grew, grew quite rapidly. But I got back to Midland. I remember reading the Bible. The words in the Bible made-you know, the same words-I began to have a better understanding. And so I would call it a renewal, an acceptance of Christ.
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    Q: What about your personal faith? Would you describe yourself as a born again Christian? How would you describe your faith?

    Bush: I would describe myself as a man who was raised a Christian, who sought redemption and found it in Jesus Christ. And that's important [to admit the need for redemption] by the way, for someone running for public office. It's a humbling experience to make that admission. I admit I'm a lowly sinner. It's that admission that led me to redemption and led me to Christ. Without making that admission, I don't think there's such a thing as redemption.
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On being touched by faith:
    "So many of us held our first child, and saw a better self reflected in her eyes. And in that family love, many have found the sign and symbol of an even greater love, and have been touched by faith."
    Acceptance Speech, Philadelphia, August 3, 2000

    Religion and the Election (back to index)
    On religion and the election:
    "The question ought to be asked, it seems to me: Is faith an important part of your life as a person? And if it is, is it reflected in policy or is it reflected in your life? And if you happen to be a governor or whatever other position, how is it reflected in your policies? Because I can see why an electorate should be suspicious if someone only talks about faith during election years. It's kind of a new phenomenon. "Vote for me; I'm more religious than my opponent" is a motto that people ought to be very concerned about."
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    "I want to win, but if it doesn't work out, I accept my fate here. And part of that acceptance and part of that comfort and part of the calm that I feel is a result of my religion."
    20/20 interview with Barbara Walters, July 28, 2000

    "I don't pray for votes or I don't pray for the stock market to go up, I pray for strength and patience and love and understanding."
    20/20 interview with Barbara Walters, July 28, 2000

    On Christ and the road to the White House:
    Q: Governor, we would like to know about your personal relationship with Christ, and how he has equipped you and continues to equip you as your journey to the White House continues?

    Bush: Well, I appreciate that. As you know, during a debate, one of the debates in the public arena, I was asked about a philosopher who influenced my life. I didn't spend much time thinking about an answer. It just came out, and I said it was Christ, and it was Christ. "What does that mean? Why?" he said. And I said, "Because he's changed my heart." And the man said, "Could you explain it further?" And basically what I said is it's kind of hard to explain it in 30-second sound bytes. It's hard to explain unless you have witnessed it yourself, and so it is hard to explain.
    I'm mindful of people in public office who say, "Vote for me. I'm more religious than my neighbor." I want to be judged on my actions, and I want to be judged on my--on how I--on how I conduct myself. That's what I want to be judged by. Faith to me is strength. It puts life in perspective. I recognize that I'm a humble sinner and I've sought redemption. I recognize that I'm no better than anybody else. I believe that. I believe that I have had the good fortune of not only recognizing that, but of asking for redemption and finding redemption. My faith helps me keep life in perspective, and I think that's important particularly for somebody in the public arena. My faith helps me prioritize, and the priorities in my life are my faith and my family. And I want--I'm sure you know. I'm sure you've read some of the stories about, you know, thinking about running for president. I never dreamt I'd be running for president. It wasn't one of those things that, you know, I was hoping to get elected to the eighth grade class president and maybe parlay that into, you know, and then kind of maybe become the such-and-such and then kind of work my way up. And so one of my worries was my family, as I'm sure you can imagine. We're the proud parents of 18-year-old twin daughters. But I recognized, through a lot of soul searching, that our love for each other was strong enough to help us endure--and so my faith has helped me keep my priorities straight, and recognize exactly who I am.
    Town Meeting. Columbia, South Carolina, February 12, 2000

    On upholding the office of the presidency:
    Q: President Clinton says he has sought forgiveness from God for his mistakes. What effect do you feel the Lewinsky scandal had on our nation spiritually?

    Bush: You never know, ultimately. In the short run, it had a very negative effect because mothers and dads were so disillusioned trying to explain to their children what [the Lewinsky scandal] was all about. I know we did in our household. It was hard.

    But hopefully this is an awakening for all of us to be able to understand how important it is to keep a check on carnal desires and to be responsible for the decisions we make in life.

    We need to change the culture of America, but cultures don't change instantaneously. But we've got a culture that has sent a signal that says: "If it feels good, just go ahead and do it. And if you have a problem in society, then blame somebody else."

    This attitude existed before this recent scandal. I think what this country needs to do is to usher in what I call "the responsibility era"--where you are responsible for the decisions you make. But we can't usher in the responsibility era when a figure that is on your TV screen on a daily basis has behaved irresponsibly. It sends a mixed message. What's needed in a president is a consistent message.
    From "God and the Governor," Charisma Magazine interview, August 29, 2000

    "To unite this nation and lead this nation and bring people together for a common cause requires a leader who understands his own fallibility, someone who's humble. After all, our faith is based upon the most ultimate humble man of all time, Christ, and I think humility is very important in the political process.

    "I think one can be a very strong, forceful leader and be humble at the same time. All of us are sinners, all of us. And in my case I sought redemption and found it."
    Catholic News Service interview, September 20, 2000

    "And to lead this nation to a responsibility era, a president himself must be responsible.
    "And so, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God."
    Acceptance Speech, Philadelphia, August 3, 2000

    "This is an awesome job [the presidency]. With it comes big responsibilities, and my faith is going to help me handle the job. My faith will help me handle the responsibilities inherit in the job...and the pressures."
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On the job of leaders:
    "Our job as leaders--Republicans, Democrats, nonaffiliateds--is to rally that compassion of America, is to call upon the love that exists not because of government, that exists because of a gracious and loving God."
    AP story in LA Times, Aug 4, 2000

    Education and Family Values (back to index)
    On family:
    Q: Many Christians hold the family as the foundational institution of human society and marriage as the union of a man and a woman in lifetime covenant to each other and to God. Do you support these traditional beliefs concerning the family and marriage?

    Bush: Of course I do. I believe the family is the backbone of a hopeful, more prosperous America. I will just give you the practical aspects of the breakup of the family. If you're a single girl, young girl with a child, it's much more likely that you'll be impoverished...and your child will be impoverished. There's an economic impact besides the social impact, besides a real psychological impact. If you're alone in life, and you're a young woman with a child, it's more likely that you're going to end up in poverty. Family is the backbone.

    There's nothing better that having a man and a wife pulling for each other and raising children in a loving and peaceful home. I'm worried about out-of-wedlock births. I believe we ought to encourage abstinence education in America. I believe the president must set the example. The most important job a parent will have is to love their children with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind. That's how you lead. That's the tone you set. And I try to set it in every speech I give.
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On moral education:
    "So today, here in New Hampshire, I want to make the case for moral education. Teaching is more than training, and learning is more than literacy. Our children must be educated in reading and writing--but also in right and wrong. "Of course, every generation worries about the next. "Children today are tyrants," said one educator. "They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers." And that teacher's name was ... Socrates.
    "Some things don't change. The real problem comes, not when children challenge the rules, but when adults won't defend the rules. And for about three decades, many American schools surrendered this role. Values were "clarified," not taught. Students were given moral puzzles, not moral guidance. But morality is not a cafeteria of personal choices--with every choice equally right and equally arbitrary, like picking a flavor of ice cream. We do not shape our own morality. It is morality that shapes our lives... "Schools must never impose religion--but they must not oppose religion either. And the federal government should not be an enemy of voluntary expressions of faith by students. "Religious groups have a right to meet before and after school. Students have a right to say grace before meals, read their Bibles, wear Stars of David and crosses, and discuss religion with other willing students. Students have a right to express religious ideas in art and homework. "Public schools that forbid these forms of religious expression are confused. But more than that, they are rejecting some of the best and finest influences on young lives. It is noble when a young mind finds meaning and wisdom in the Talmud or Koran. It is good and hopeful when young men and women ask themselves what would Jesus do.

    "The measure of our nation's greatness has never been affluence or influence--rising stocks or advancing armies. It has always been found in citizens of character and compassion. And so many of our problems as a nation--from drugs, to deadly diseases, to crime--are not the result of chance, but of choice. They will only be solved by a transformation of the heart and will. This is why a hopeful and decent future is found in hopeful and decent children."
    Speech on "The True Goal of Education," Gorham, New Hampshire, November 2, 1999

    On whether there is a spiritual crisis:
    Q: Do you think that the spiritual crisis in the country, that absolute truth is something that's degraded and that we've embraced as a society a wicked relativism?

    Bush: Interesting question. I don't think we've necessarily embraced a society of relativism. I think the evangelical movement and spiritual movements are very strong in America. I think that's one of the most hopeful signs we have in the 21st century.
    US News Online, George W. Bush: Running on His Faith

    On creationism:
    "I believe in the alignment of authority and responsibility away from the federal government when it comes to issues of governance and schools. Secondly, my own personal opinion is that I believe that it's important for children to understand there's different schools of thought when it comes to the formation of the world. I have no problem explaining that there are different theories about how the world was formed. I mean, after all, religion has been around a lot longer than Darwinism. And I think it's important for people to know what people believe in-but whatever the case, here's what I believe. I believe God did create the world. And I think we're finding out more and more and more as to how it actually happened."
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    Faith-Based Organizations (back to index)
    On faith-based organizations:
    Q: You have been promoting the idea of letting faith-based organizations receive federal funding. But how are you going to do this when so many people out there criticize this as a violation of the separation of church and state?

    Bush: The state should not be the church, and the church should never be the state. But we ought to welcome people of faith into the political process. And we ought to understand that government can hand out money, but it cannot put hope in people's hearts. Government is limited in its ability to encourage love.

    Therefore, while the government spends money, it should not preclude programs of faith that are helping people in times of need. The church and state can be separated even when we welcome faith-based programs onto government property.

    Charles Colson's Prison Fellowship ministry comes to mind. They are operating a Christian prison in Texas. They are saying, "Why don't we change prisoners' hearts--and watch their attitudes change." Look at the Teen Challenge ministry. I think taxpayers' money should be allowed to be redeemed in these kinds of programs without forcing them to change their mission.

    I don't believe that is violating the separation of church and state. I think we just need to understand the power of the church, synagogue and mosque to change people's lives. We need to welcome them into the process in a hospitable way, in a way that doesn't threaten them or in a way that creates a bureaucracy that prevents them from fulfilling their mission. If the government helps a person so that they make a choice as to where they can get their life saved, that's not a violation of the separation of church and state.
    From "God and the Governor," Charisma Magazine interview, August 29, 2000

    "In every instance where my administration sees a responsibility to help people, we will look first to faith-based organizations, charities and community groups that have shown their ability to save and change lives.... "We will never ask an organization to compromise its core values and spiritual mission to get the help it needs....

    "Some Washington politicians call these efforts 'crumbs of compassion.' These aren't 'crumbs' to people whose lives are changed, they are the hope of renewal and salvation. These are not the 'crumbs of compassion,' they are the bread of life. And they are the strength and soul of America."
    Speech on the role of faith-based organizations. Metro Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, July 22, 1999

    "Americans understand when I talk about faith-based programs, I'm not saying the government is going to take over the church, or the church is going to take over government.

    "What I am saying is that we're going to welcome people of faith to help change people's lives in America. Inherit in that statement is an optimistic view of the future. I am very optimistic, because as I said in that high school crowd [at Butler Traditional High School, Louisville, KY], 'The true strength of America lies in the fact that we are a faithful America by and large.' "
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

    On the separation of church and state:
    Q: Do you think we've gone too far in one direction or another?

    Bush: Well, let me just say this. I think we must maintain the balance of church and state. I think that's a really important principle. It depends on the area that you're talking about. I've heard from a lot of very important leaders in different communities around America that are deeply concerned about my charitable-choice position. They hear me talk about the power of faith changing people's hearts as being one successful remedy to many of the social ills. And then it makes them nervous when they hear me say, "And I intend to encourage faith-based institutions to perform their commonplace miracles of renewal." So it sounds like to them that I want government to fund religious institutions.

    And I argue the case: What I'm asking for is government to empower people to make decisions or to fund the programs within certain institutions of faith. And I argue that's a difference. They don't. But I think it's important for me to say as often as possible I support the separation of church and state. In this case we have a different definition. We have a different application of funding programs and people as opposed to funding church. And what I ask people to do is join me in recognizing that there are certain social objectives we'd like to achieve, such as reducing prison recidivism, getting people off drugs. And if a program changes a heart and we achieve that objective, we as a society ought to say thanks.
    US News Online, "George W. Bush: Running on His Faith"

    On prison ministries:
    Q: Under your proposals for helping faith-based organizations, money might go to something like a prison fellowship that teaches prisoners the Bible as part of the program to help people toward recovery.

    Bush: Yes, absolutely.

    Q: How would you feel if government money instead was, say, subsidizing the Muslim group that taught prisoners the Qur'an?

    Bush: The question I'd be asking is what are the recidivism rates? Is it working? And secondly, is there a secular alternative available? So the answer to your question is I wouldn't object at all if the program worked.

    Q: Even though, effectively, it would mean that taxpayer money would be going to help a group teach the Qur'an or the Bible?

    Bush: Right, that's right. But effectively, what I'm focusing on is the prisoner and the result of the program. I mean, I answered this question a lot in Texas. It can be any religion. And the question was, "Are you promoting religion by using people's, taxpayers' money?" And I said, "No, I'm promoting lower recidivism rates, and we will measure to make sure that that's the case."

    A results-oriented world says "let's achieve some common objectives and some common goals," and if teaching Bible study or the Qur'an is a method that works, we should welcome it, so long as it's a voluntary program and people, of course, there is going to be a secular alternative that's called 'regular jail.' But so long as the prisoners can pick and choose.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    "We turned over a prison unit in Fort Bend County, Texas [to Chuck Colson prison ministries]. I said, "Come on." I asked the question, does it work, is it going to make a difference. Of course, you see, I think it makes a difference because it made a difference in my life, faith made a difference in my personal life, and so I felt confident. I felt confident that something positive would happen.... "And people say to me all the time, does it have to be a Christian ministry? No. A Muslim could come so long as it works, so long as changing a heart in this case achieves what we want, which is a reduced recidivism rate. "One of the interesting stories was, I was standing out there getting ready to have the press conference, and the church choir came out. And my mother in me crept out and so I jump in line with them and I'm singing my favorite song, "Amazing Grace," in front of all the TV cameras. And next, I'm holding this man's shoulder and looking him in the eye, and he had this great glow to him, and I said, "Hey, what are you here for?" He said, "I've been here for 19 and a half years. I'm here for murder, and I'm getting out in six months." I said, "Lord bless you." "The reason I bring that up is because the real strength of the program is not only what happens inside the ministry, inside the walls of the prison, but most importantly or as importantly is what happens outside. And what has to happen to make this work is for some church family to hear the call, to welcome this man as he comes out of prison after 19 and a half years. He's had the seed planted in his heart, that mustard seed that's growing over time, and the question is, will there be somebody there to nurture it, to help him on his walk.
    Town Meeting, Columbia, South Carolina, February 12, 2000

    Catholicism and Other Faiths (back to index)
    On the Catholic Church:
    Q: Governor, I'm a member of the Catholic Church, what's this business I hear about you not liking Catholics? Bush: Yeah, I appreciate that. Don't believe it. Here's what happened, let me explain what happened to you. I went to a university in South Carolina to give a speech, and I talked about much of what I talked about here, bringing America together to bring out the best in our country. I talked about education, I talked responsibility. I missed an opportunity, in retrospect, I missed an opportunity to remind people we're all God's children. I missed an opportunity to say, don't condemn the Catholic Church. I missed the opportunity to say the Catholic Church is a great church, it's one of the avenues to be able to be--to hear the word of the Father. I missed that opportunity. I wish--if I had to do it over again I would have gone back and reminded people of the great hope and promise of the Catholic faith. I'd remind people the governor of Florida, my brother, is a Catholic. I would have reminded people that as governor of Texas I have been an inclusive governor. I brought people together.

    And then what happened was there's something in American politics called guilt by association. It's where people try to ascribe sentiments to my heart that aren't true. Opinions to me that just are not valid. And it got a little carried away at one point where there were phone calls implying and some phone calls flatly stating that I was an anti-Catholic bigot. America rejects that kind of politics. America can't stand that. I appreciate you giving me a chance.
    Campaign Rally, San Diego, California, March 6, 2000

    On the role of religion in the Oval Office:
    Q (Tim Russert): What role would religion have in the Oval Office with George W. Bush? 15 million atheists in this country, 5 million Jews, 5 million Muslims, millions more Buddhists and Hindus. Should they feel excluded from George W. Bush because of his allegiance to Jesus? Bush: No. I was asked what influenced my life. And I gave an unvarnished answer. It doesn't make me any better than you, or make me better than anybody else. But it's a foundation for how I live my life. Some may accept the answer, and some may not. But Tim, I really don't care. It's me. It's what I'm all about. It's how I live my life--it's just a part of me. Russert: Would you take an expression like "What Would Jesus Do?" into the Oval Office? Bush: I would take an expression into the Oval Office of "Dear God, help me!" Another debate participant: So would we, Governor Bush: Now, that wasn't very Christian of you. [Laughter] Russert: In 1993, you suggested unless you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior, you couldn't go to heaven. Bush: No, no. What I said was my religion teaches--my religion says that you accept Christ and you go to heaven. That was a statement that some interpreted that I said that I get to decide who gets to go to heaven. Governors don't decide who gets to go to heaven. No, sir. God decides who gets to go to heaven, Mr. Russert. Russert: Even non-Christians? Bush: God decides. And far be it from the politician who tries to play God.
    Televised Republican Debate. Durham, New Hampshire, January 6, 2000

    On proselytizing
    Q: If you believe that the way to the Kingdom of God for you is Jesus Christ, in a sense don't you have a moral obligation to try to urge other people to follow the same path?

    Bush: Not in my line of work I don't. My line of work is political. My line of work [my job] is to walk the walk, and respect others, and respect their religions. And secondly, I'm not so presumptuous as to play God. There are many great religions in the world.

    God is all-powerful and all-knowing, and, you know, we'll never know until we get to heaven the ultimate answers to many of the religious questions. But the president of the United States' job is not to try to convert people to religion. The president of the United States' job is to set an example, to make sound decisions, to respect religion, and, if asked, to herald religion. But the key is not to hold out, you know, my religion is better than yours.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    On message to Jews:
    Q: What is the special message for us as Jews with regard to compassionate conservatism that you've been talking about around the country?
    Bush: It starts with what I said earlier, the universal call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. That's common to all religions....Compassion exists in the hearts and souls in people from all faiths, and so the great challenge for our country is how to interface the call to love the neighbor like you'd like to be loved with yourself with people in need.
    Speech to Republican Jewish Coalition, Washington, DC, December 1, 1999 On role of synagogues, churches and mosques:
    "Each of us is responsible...to love and guide our children, and help a neighbor in need. Synagogues, churches and mosques are responsible...not only to worship but to serve."
    Acceptance Speech, Philadelphia, August 3, 2000

    "Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world of justice and inclusion and diversity without division. Jews and Christians and Muslims speak as one in their commitment to a kind, just tolerant society."
    Speech to B'nai B'rith, August 28, 2000

    On diversity:
    Q: Do you think that all major religions are equally true?

    Bush: I think that we're all God's children, and far be it from me, as a lowly sinner, trying to decide who gets to go to heaven and who doesn't, for example. I mean at one time, in 1994, I said, "My faith says you must accept Christ to go to heaven." And there was a significant backlash because, as typical in politics, the full story wasn't told. And there was a typical backlash amongst, you know, some Jewish people in Texas that basically felt I had said that they can't go to heaven. I worked hard to make it clear to people, far be it from me to tell you I get to decide who goes. I'm working on myself. I'm focused on me.

    And so to answer your question, there are great religions in the world, and it's important to recognize that there are great religions in the world. And there are many shared tenets of the great religions. "Love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself." And there are some wonderful callings. I just happen to be a Christian.
    Beliefnet.com editor-in-chief Steven Waldman's interview with Bush, October 2000

    "My parents are Episcopal, I'm Methodist, my brother Jeb's a Catholic. It's a religious blend of diversity, and I respect the religious nature of our country."
    Catholic News Service interview, September 20, 2000

    "A truly welcoming culture must recognize that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. We must appreciate the dignity...in all people."
    Speech to B'nai B'rith, August 28, 2000

    "People who belittle people of faith are exhibiting bigotry. That bigotry comes in the form of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism--in some movies recently produced--, and anti-Southern Baptist. It's religious bigotry pure and simple. Our nation is founded on religious freedom--the principle that people ought to be able to practice religious freedom and speak their mind, freely."
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, Sept. 13, 2000

    The Death Penalty (back to index)
    On the death penalty:
    Q: Many Christians believe the death penalty is supported by Scripture, while others believe it isn't. How have you applied your faith to this issue?

    Bush: It's a very difficult issue for a lot of people. And it's not easy being the governor in a death penalty state. But nevertheless my job is to uphold the laws of our land. When I swore on the Bible at my inauguration as governor of Texas, I swore to uphold the laws.

    I also believe that it is important to focus on the innocent victim when it comes to crime. If the death penalty is administered surely, swiftly and justly, it will save lives because people will know that there is going to be a consequence to crime.
    From "God and the Governor," Charisma Magazine interview, August 29, 2000

    "The death penalty obviously is an emotional issue for a lot of people, and I understand that. I support the death penalty because, when it's administered swiftly and justly and surely, it saves people's lives. I'm sworn to uphold the laws of my state. I review every case. I take it seriously. I believe every person that we have put to death in the state of Texas has been guilty, and I know every person has had full access to courts of law."
    Catholic Digest interview, Aug. 11, 2000

    "I believe when the death penalty is administered surely, swiftly and justly it saves lives, it sends a chilling signal throughout our society that we will not tolerate ... the ultimate violent act of taking somebody's life."
    Catholic News Service interview, September 20, 2000

    Q: What would Jesus think of the death penalty? Bush: Listen, I'm a lowly sinner. I'm not going to put words in Jesus' mouth.
    Televised Republican Debate, Michigan, January 10, 2000.

    On Abortion (back to index)
    Q: We have readers who used to vote solely on whether a candidate was pro-life, but now they say the issue of abortion doesn't matter because the courts will never restrict it.

    Bush: The battle has not been lost. The battle for life begins with changing the culture. We need to convince people of the preciousness of life. If we do get a better understanding of the preciousness of life, then people will start making better choices.

    And I don't mean just the life of the unborn. I'm talking about the life of the elderly. I'm talking about teaching our children the value of life. The 1999 Columbine massacre was really an issue of teen-agers who didn't value life--kids who would walk into their school and take somebody's life. That was a clear sign that this country needs to have a renewed understanding of the preciousness of life.

    But there are some practical things that can happen. I will sign a ban on partial-birth abortions. That's a bill that can make it to my desk that will save lives. Also, I can encourage parental notification laws. In the debate on this issue in Texas, our position was that parental notification will save lives. Also, we can herald adoption as a beautiful alternative to abortion.
    From "God and the Governor," Charisma Magazine interview, August 29, 2000

    Q: How would you propose to lead our nation to value the life of the unborn?

    Bush: "Well, first it's how I talk...the emphasis I can place on the values of life and to remind people that when crises of life arise, what the core question is. After Columbine, there was a lot of focus on the issue of law...pertaining to guns. But there was a bigger law violated, and that was the law of the preciousness of human life. These were men [the Columbine killers] whose hearts were taken by evil. And to me, it was a struggle of good and evil. Now, sure we need laws that will work and be effective, but the president can and should set a tone.

    "Secondly, there are some practical things that the president can do. Sign a ban on partial birth abortions. Encourage parental notification laws. These are laws that will help reduce abortion in America. Encourage adoption. Adoption is such a beautiful alternative to abortion. Visit crisis pregnancy centers. These are places of love. I remember going to one in Iowa during the course of the primary caucuses. It was such a beautiful experience to see the love and tender affection there. There were not scolding people or angry people that were running this center. These were loving people. They were willing to be involved with a person who had a tough situation on her hands. They were following the guidance of the Christian principal 'love your neighbor.'"
    Interview with the Baptist Press, the national news service of the Southern Baptist Convention, August 31, 2000

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