Thank you, Mr. President, for a moderating voice
New York, April 28 –
The General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA has sent a
message to President Bush thanking him for defending the right of
religious people "to express their opposition without being accused of
being less religious and less patriotic than their opponents."
response to question in his news conference Thursday night, Bush
cautioned his supporters and government officials against accusing
religious groups who oppose their programs of being "against persons of
faith" or of being unpatriotic.
The president said that people in political office should not accuse
their opponents of being "not equally American if you don't happen to
agree with my view on religion."
Earlier this week, NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar had objected to
accusations by organizers of the April 24 "Justice Sunday" telecast that
religious groups who opposed President Bush's judicial appointments were
supporting "anti-Christian dogma," or were "against persons of faith."
Appearing on Fox's "Hannity & Colmes" and MSNBC's "Scarborough Country"
Monday night, Edgar and other moderate church leaders urged their
critics to tone down the rhetoric. In his e-mail, Edgar thanked Bush for
doing just that.
"Your statement Thursday night about faith and patriotism goes a long
way toward easing a debate that has become increasingly contentious over
the past several days," Edgar wrote.
The full text of the e-mail message follows.
TO: President George Bush
Dear Mr. President:
Your statement Thursday night about faith and patriotism goes a long way
toward easing a debate that has become increasingly contentious over the
past several days. As you know, persons who rallied under the banner of
the Family Research Council Sunday night eloquently defended your
judicial appointments. However, many Americans thought their rhetoric
crossed the line when speakers suggested (and in some cases declared
openly) that persons who disagreed with them were not persons of faith.
It was particularly disappointing to us when Senator (Bill) Frist (R-Tenn.) said that
people who disagreed with your judicial appointments were "against
people of faith."
The National Council of Churches encompasses more than 45 million
believers across a broad spectrum of theology and politics who work
together on issues important to our society. It seems entirely
inappropriate when lobbyists and government officials accuse their
fellow Christians of being "against persons of faith."
Mr. President, you stated quite forthrightly that people in political
office should not accuse their opponents of being "not equally American
if you don't happen to agree with my view on religion." I am sure many
persons in the 100,000 congregations represented by the National Council
of Churches support you wholeheartedly, just as many others cherish the
right to express their opposition without being accused of being less
religious and less patriotic than their opponents.
Thank you, Mr. President, for defending the right of all of us to
participate in the political process as our faith compels--and on all
sides of the political spectrum.
National Council of Churches
Contact: Philip E.
Jenks, NCC News, 212-870-2252