WASHINGTON, DC (FR) – With inauguration festivities focused on public and private worship services as well as a proclamation for a national day of prayer, President George Bush has set a definite spiritual tone for his administration.
Bush opens his cabinet meetings with prayer. At one of the first meetings, Secretary of State James Baker was called on to deliver a prayer, according to White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater. At the 1989 National Prayer Breakfast in February, Bush addressed the gathering by reminding them that Americans face “tough problems and great opportunities,” and urged that “we not just pray for what we want, but that we pray for what is in the heart of God for us individually and as a nation.”
The president told the gathering of more than 4,000 participants that he practices thanksgiving on a daily basis and suggested that more Americans do the same. “All of us should not attempt to fulfill the responsibilities we now have without prayer and a strong faith in God,” he declared. “If we are to walk together toward a more caring, more generous America,” he added, “let us all share in paving the way in prayer.”
Prior to his election, Bush did not talk openly or easily about his Christian beliefs. In an interview with Christianity Today (September 1988), he said that his faith “has been very personal.” Yet in the same interview he stated, “There was never any doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ was my Saviour and Lord.” Although many politicians have abandoned their Christian tenets upon which they campaigned in order to win the evangelical vote, Bush has increased public discussion of Christianity.
The day after his election, Bush told reporters that he and his wife had gone to church that morning because “God’s help is absolutely essential.” They attend church every Sunday at an Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., and have also visited other churches, including a black Baptist Church. The Bushes have said that they will not allow security precautions to hamper their worship. The First Lady told a television interviewer that one of her duties is “to get my husband to church.”
Billy Graham, a close friend of the Bushes for 25 years, says he believes their faith is “strong and genuine.” Graham explained, “I’ve had prayer with him many times and discussed spiritual things with his whole family on a number of occasions.”