Features

Faith-based White House

"Faith-based White House" Continued...

Issue: "Iraq: Fallujah's fallen," Nov. 27, 2004

Some aspects of Mr. Bush's faith, such as his requests for prayer, are publicly visible. He often says grace before meals at White House functions, and he has held meetings with ministers ranging from Max Lucado to T.D. Jakes to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But he has said little about his views on the Bible or on almost any theological question that Christians debate.

As far as church attendance, Gov. Bush was an active member of a Methodist church in Austin. As president, he has generally worshipped at St. John's Episcopal across the street from the White House and at the chapel of Camp David. Karen Hughes tells of a service held on board Air Force One when it was returning from overseas: She spoke, Colin Powell read Scripture, and President and Mrs. Bush attended along with staff members.

What he has said repeatedly is that his faith is a blessing to him. He says he prays often, reads the Bible each morning, tries to live it during the day, knows that he is a sinner, knows that Jesus changed his heart, and believes God has a special purpose for every human being, including himself.

Kay Granger (R-Texas), a key member of the House Appropriations Committee, says that "fighting a war has taken a toll on him," and she recalls an Oval Office meeting where several members of Congress talked to the president about his requests for additional war funding. They focused exclusively on the financial cost, she says, but the president's eyes filled with tears as he said, "There are men and women who have died for this cause. I think about their sacrifice every day." She says Mr. Bush paused and then continued: "I pray for them and for those who are fighting now. But we will carry on and see this thing through. We won't let them down. We won't let the people of Afghanistan and Iraq down."

To Karen Hughes, the president's leadership style is in some part the result of a faith that "leads him to respect every person as a creation of God." Ken Mehlman, who ran the reelection campaign and was recently named the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, says, "I have never worked with a person who asks as many questions as this president does." He also asks for prayer and, as Mr. Mehlman and others report, regularly tells those who say they're praying for him, "That's the most important thing you can do for me."

-Kasey S. Pipes, a Texas freelance writer, wrote speeches and researched policy for President Bush from 2001 to 2003

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