Bush's Religious Rhetoric Feeds Fears of a Holy War
THE BALTIMORE SUN
WASHINGTON -- President Bush has hardly made a secret of his faith in the power of God. But recently, Bush has taken to sprinkling more religious language into his speeches, even drawing upon evangelical hymns and expressing his conviction that events are often driven by a divine force.
"We do not claim to know all the ways of Providence," he declared in his State of the Union address last month. "Yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history. May he guide us now."
The sincerity of the president's religious commitment seems beyond doubt. Bush is a church-going Methodist who said he has not drunk alcohol since 1986, when he recommitted himself to Jesus Christ. In 1999, when asked in a campaign debate what political philosopher he most identified with, Bush named Christ, "because he changed my heart."
At the same time, Bush's stepped-up efforts to express his faith coincide with a White House drive to court religious conservatives in advance of the president's 2004 re-election campaign.
Bush's increasing use of religious language has drawn criticism from those who advocate a strict separation of church and state. They say his message is growing more exclusionary for Americans who do not share his beliefs.
Some foreign-policy analysts say Bush also is taking a sizable risk in solidifying his image as a Christian believer when he is on the verge of launching a war against Iraq. Since America's war on terrorism began, radical Islamic leaders and terrorist groups have vilified the anti-terror drive as a holy war against people of Islamic faith.
"If the war is put too much in the context of, 'The Christian faith is somehow burdened, so we have to assume the role of good Christians,' it sends a very negative signal," said Edward Walker Jr., president of the Middle East Institute and a State Department specialist during the Clinton years and the start of the Bush administration.
"The president has been very careful that no one misinterprets this as a fight between religions, but he has to be careful about quoting evangelical hymns," Walker said. "That kind of thing gets picked up immediately. There are people actually looking for it."
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
The WorldPeace Banner
To the WorldPeace Peace Page