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President Bush And Religion

It's CBS News radio correspondent Peter Maer's turn to answer "Ask the White House Booth" viewer mail.


Does the President believe that his actions in the Middle East are influenced by his belief in biblical prophecy?
Larry J. Kluth (Lt. Col. USAF Ret.)

President Bush and his press secretaries have been asked variations of that question over the years. The most recent query came during an interview with an Israeli Television broadcaster in August of last year. From the White House transcript:

QUESTION: As a believer, Mr. President, what do you say to Jewish believers who think that God sent them to settle in the biblical Israel and they will not obey any decision of elected government?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, there are admonitions in the Bible that does talk about the role of government relative to man. And Israel is a democracy and democracies are able to express the will of the people. The Prime Minister is expressing what he thinks is in the best interests of Israel and the people will decide, ultimately, whether or not that decision makes sense.

The president gave an even stronger indication of how the Bible guides his thinking during an August, 2002 statement on the Middle East. He said, "The choice here is stark and simple. The Bible says, 'I have set before you life and death; therefore choose life.' The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace, and hope and life."

While the president has avoided claiming that God is on the side of the U.S. in the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, he has often portrayed it as a battle of "good versus evil." In "Plan of Attack," a book about war decision-making, author Bob Woodward quotes the president as saying, "I'm surely not going to justify the war based on God." But he also told Woodward that he prayed "for the strength to do the Lord's will."

Although the president often openly discusses his faith and his aides say he is guided by his beliefs and by prayer; he has not spoken publicly on his personal views on many of the age-old questions about biblical writings. In a 2000 interview with the website Beliefnet.com, He said, "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."

Interested readers can learn more about the president's views on religion in a number of books by independent authors who have investigated the topic. Mr. Bush also discussed his personal faith in his 1999 campaign autobiography, "A Charge to Keep."

Of course many presidents have invoked God and the Bible. I predict George W. Bush's views on the religion will be the source of intrigue for presidential historians for years to come.


Why hasn't the president been asked does he agree with Bob Novak's statement that the president knows the CIA case "Leaker." How could the entire press corps miss that?
Paul White

Reporters have already pushed the issue with the White House Press Secretary. Following a carefully-scripted strategy, Scott McClellan responds to this and most other questions about the leak case by saying the White House won't comment on an ongoing investigation. The president usually uses the same formulation when he's asked about the issue. Since reporters don't like to "waste" rare opportunities to question the president, they often avoid asking questions that will evoke predictable answers.

We will likely have the ultimate answer to your question when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald issues his final report. Then we'll follow up with the president.


Why have the Halliburton stories of contract abuse dropped off the chart?
Paul Crossgrove

The issue remains very much on our "radar screen." The Justice Department has received a report on a Pentagon investigation of a whistle blower's allegations of wrongdoing involving a subsidiary of the company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The Justice Department has advised Congress that it is "in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter." Announcement of a decision will open the next chapter in the story. Regardless of how Justice handles the case, you can be sure that Democrats will try to make Halliburton an issue in this midterm election year.

We look forward to hearing from our readers!

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