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George H.W. Bush

Faith, Presidency, and Public Theology

Kjell Lejon

This book is the first to explore the religious dimension of President George H. W. Bush. Also, the author re-conceptualizes the common use of civil religion in order to understand more fully the religious dimension of Bush’s presidency, and thus argues for the need to highlight the religious rhetoric of President George H.W. Bush as a public theology, or more specifically, a presidential public theology.
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Chapter 5: Domestic Policies: Influence of Faith in Public Life

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Chapter 5 Domestic Policies: Influence of Faith in Public Life

Several highly debated domestic issues have particularly obvious theological underpinnings and ramifications. Bush’s religious upbringing and outlook are evident in a number of domestic policies and decisions he made during his presidency, such as the relationship between church and state, prayer in public schools, ethics in the public arena, the Thousand Points of Light Initiative, environmental issues, the “war on drugs,” the abortion issue, and presidential pardons.

Church and State

When it comes to church and state, Bush declared that he believed in the separation principle, but added that the federal law should not be defined so narrowly by the bureaucracy in Washington that it erodes a religious institution’s influence over and involvement in issues like child care. Church people who get together in a church community and take care of “the other people’s kids” should not be denied just “because of Federal money serving as a magnet that has to go into some federally certified, rubber-stamped institution down the street.”530 Bush said he was worried “that if we have one piece of legislation that defines all the standards and leans over so far backwards on the separation of church and state, that you just erode out the participation of one of the best forces in the community for teaching these kids values”—referring here to churches as one of those community forces.531 As a ← 131 | 132 → consequence, Bush strongly...

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