By John D. Beckett
On April 21, 1992, fifteen evangelical leaders met with President Bush at the White House. I was privileged to be among them, representing Intercessors for America.
While I have had this opportunity several times before, during the Reagan and Bush administrations, I would be remiss to not express gratitude to the Lord for the fact that this can happen at all, that we have in our highest public office men who desire to communicate with the Christian community.
The President asked that our time would be an open forum, and in his opening remarks placed on the table some of the issues he thought most deserved discussion – pornography, Israel, education and abortion.
The lead off participant opted for “none of the above,” and while sincerely thanking the President for his strong and uncompromising stand on the abortion issue, said the issue of homosexuality needed clarification within the context of Mr. Bush’s emphasis on strong family values, especially since, “signals have been sent that are conflicting.”
The President said he would continue to discuss family values in a broad sense, that he would hold to good standard in his administration, and that he would continue to practice what he’s preaching. “But,” he said, “I believe I’ve said before, and I’m perfectly prepared to say it again, that the codification of this [homosexual] lifestyle is not needed.” He added that while we must obviously enforce laws that are against discrimination, “I don’t want to accept laws that ask society to make that lifestyle acceptable to the American people, and I’ll adhere to that decision.”
The possibility exists, another participant noted, that there may be a specific opportunity to implement this view, citing the “Domestic Partnership Ordinance” recently passed by the District of Columbia, and that there would likely be a congressional resolution, which would then come to the President for signature. The President responded emphatically that if the D.C. ordinance condones males marrying males, “Put me down as opposed.”
The discussion shifted to AIDS, a disease which the President affirmed is largely behavioral, “coming from a lifestyle of homosexuality or from shooting drugs,” and that innocent people are then victimized. He said his Easter weekend had been marred by a homosexual group who engaged in open male kissing in the town square of Kennebunkport, Maine, whose message was, “George, change your behavior.”
Said the President: “I bring it up because it is being used against me as being insensitive and lacking compassion on AIDS. I’m not. I’m deeply concerned about the victims of AIDS, innocent or even otherwise.”
A participant asked for further discussion on Israel, saying that there is a perception that when we take a stand against Israel, such as in refusing loan guarantees, we are applying constraints on Israel that we don’t apply to other nations.
The President disagreed. “I think our relationship and record with Israel has been superb.” Except for the loan guarantee question, he didn’t think Israel had an argument with us. “We, and every preceding administration, have always been opposed to the settlements.”
Mr. Bush asserted his view that the best hope for Israel is a successful conclusion of the peace talks. “We got these parties to the peace table. Nobody has ever been able to do that in history.” He further noted the strong contribution we have made regarding the exit of Soviet and Ethiopean Jews, and our stand against an anti-Zionism resolution in the UN last year.
“Our commitment to Israel’s security has not changed, and the special relationship between Israel and the U.S. has not changed,” he said.
The Past Four Years
Another from our group commended the President for the significant accomplishments of the past four years, with the threat of nuclear war turned back, the elimination of the cold war, the leadership demonstrated during the difficult period just over a year ago in the Middle East.
These accomplishments are all but obscured by the economy now, the President responded. “I have to bear the burden of a sorry record in terms of growth and new jobs, but we’re going through it. But … our kids don’t climb under desks, as they used to, rehearsing a nuclear attack. And that’s something major, something significant.”
I was able to ask the President how he wanted us to pray for him, given his unique position and the intensity of pressures that he faces. Without hesitation, Mr. Bush said, “what I pray for is strength to do the job, to do what’s right, and to be fair in the process. And then the family.”
We concluded by responding to his request and praying together. Mr. Bush was genuinely grateful for this prayer. In fact, following the meeting he commented to me how much he appreciated being asked how we should pray for him.
Once again, I see how relevant is Paul’s instruction to Timothy: “I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority …” 1 Timothy 2:1,2.
John Beckett is Chairman of the Board of Intercessors For America. He is President of the R.W. Beckett Corporation in Elyria, Ohio. He and his wife, Wendy, have six children and one grandchild. This article was reprinted from the Intercessors For America Newsletter. To receive a copy of the IFA Newsletter, write: IFA, PO Box 2639, Reston, VA, 22090.