After taking office

George W. Bush - A Question of Faith

The new US President wants billions of dollars to support social work by religious organizations

Washington, USA
January 31, 2001
Tagesspiegel Berlin

by Malte Lehming

Any American can become president, but none will attain presidency that do not believe in God. George W. Bush believes in God. He showed that to the entire world as he entered office. Preaching occurred two times on the platform in front of the Capitol, both times Bush held his eyes shut. Several observers found this gesture exaggerated. That won't be for the last time. Bush is serious about his faith. In his presidency religion and religious values will attain a complete new significance.

Bush is something like a born-again Christian. For a long time he was indifferent to religion, he'd rather party and drink alcohol. Finally 15 years ago he ended that because he found God. "No government program helped me in doing that," he said, "no, I heard the call of the Lord." So his announcement on Monday that he wanted to support the social work of church organizations came as no surprise. In the company of five African-American preachers, a Muslim Imam, a Catholic nun and an Orthodox Jew, Bush signed two decrees to this effect in the White House.

Among other things, in three weeks an independent office for religious affairs is to be established in the White House; this office will coordinate the distribution of monies. "From now on when we look at social grievances in American," said Bush, "the first thing my administration will ask is which religious and local programs there are which we can support in the fight against these grievances." This step is allegedly welcome by a majority of the population as well as by many religious representatives. However the initiative is strongly criticized by liberal citizens rights advocates. They view the constitutionally guaranteed separation of church and state as being at risk and ask if only those junkies who say their prayers twice a day will be freed from their addiction. They are also concerned about discrimination among religions and possible misuse of state money.

The Scientologists say they have an absolutely successful anti-drug program. Are they to receive tax money too? And what about the Nation of Islam? If these types of organizations are excluded, then the administration might rightfully be accused of discrimination. Some religious organizations smell trouble. If money exchanges hands, that is interference, they say, which would threaten their independence.

German Scientology News