President Bush Doesn’t See How an Atheist Could Be President
By Gerry Dantone
In a Washington Times article (http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050111-101004-3771r.htm ), President Bush said yesterday that he doesn't "see how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord…” but that he is always mindful “to protect the right of others to worship or not worship.”
Apparently this right is not applicable when it comes to the Pledge of Allegiance or Creationism in public schools, for taxpayers who have to pay for faith-based charities and for government vouchers for religious schools.
"I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you're not equally as patriotic if you're not a religious person," Mr. Bush said.
"I fully understand that the job of the president is and must always be protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit," Mr. Bush said. "That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have or one of the greatest freedoms is the right to worship the way you see fit.
"On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with the Lord," he said.
Of course, this has the veneer of respectability but is outrageous at the core. Just substitute “Allah” or “Jesus” for “the Lord” and decide whether this is pure bigotry or not.
I’ll do it for you: "On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with Allah."
And THIS is what distinguishes us from the Taliban? The truth is the opposite: that this unfortunately is what is common to most religious groups – intolerance.
Is this making too much of this quote? The Washington Post offered an insightful viewpoint: “Bush has often said that he is a religious man who supports freedom of religion, but yesterday may be the first time he has so clearly suggested in his use of words that he harbors the feeling that these two principles are to some degree in conflict. You don't use the "other hand" construction for two concepts that complement each other. And his suggestion that someone is not qualified to be president unless they are religious is sure to spark some further discussion.”
President Bush may give lip service to religious rights, but like most Americans, would not consider voting for a nonbeliever. And with this utterance he has given the Religious Right even more cover to promote this bigoted point of view.
If only the President had said: "On the other hand, I don't see how you can be president at least from my perspective, how you can be president, without a relationship with reason, logic and compassion."
We will not be holding our breath.