President George W. Bush is a religious man. Even beyond ending his speeches, like every previous president, with, “God Bless America”, religion, in no small way, has made him the man–husband, father, world-leader–that he is today.
The separation of Church and State is one of America’s most prized constitutional principles, but the influence that religion has over the men and women who run the state can not be denied.
In 1985 George W. Bush was not a governor or a president, he was simply a man living in Texas with two young daughters and a struggling marriage. He joined a non-denominational bible-study group for guidance. It was a group of ten men meeting weekly to study and thoroughly discuss the New Testament. By 1986 he had fixed one of the main strains on his marriage–he quit drinking.
17 years later he is the President of the United States at a time when national security has not felt so insecure since the Cold War.
A time where the American people need complete faith in their president and government. And faith is exactly what President Bush asks for.
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters concerning questions asked about the War on Terror.
The American government admits that it does not know everything, but it posits that decisions have to be made. President Bush has firmly made the decision, and stated numerous times, that America, should Iraq not willingly disarm, must go to war.
The world and the American people are asked to, as Bill O’Reilly puts it, give our government, “the benefit of the doubt.”
Bush stated that, “Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
Bush asks for the faith of the American people because, like God, Bush can differentiate good from evil, “and America will call evil by its name.”
Currently that name is not Satan but Saddam.
Using Biblically derived language is nothing new for American presidents, “it is the rhetoric that our leaders have always used to link the nation’s purposes to those of a transcendent God–especially in times of war,” as Newsweek’s Howard Fineman points out.
Bush’s critics accuse him of simplifying complex issues with this rhetoric of moral clarity, while others appreciate his decisiveness.
President Bush still has his faith he developed 17 years ago. This is evident in his actions. Everyday he wakes before dawn to read the Bible, short sermons, or other Christian material.
Bush is very open to justifying this war with Christianity, and he’s betting his presidency on it