President Bush discusses faith in TV interview

In a television interview broadcast Dec. 8, President Bush said he doesn’t know if God wanted him to be president, doubts the Bible is literally true, agrees you can believe in God and evolution simultaneously and believes Christians and those of other faiths pray to the same God.

In the segment for ABC’s “Nightline,” Bush said he is “not so presumptuous as to be God” in knowing whether God picked him out of all the people in the world to be president.

“I just can’t go there,” he said. “I’m not that confident in knowing the Almighty to be able to say, ‘Yeah, God wanted me, of all the other people.’ But, you know, did God want me to be president? I don’t know.”

Bush said that, had he been asked if he believed God told him to run for president and guaranteed he would win, he would have replied emphatically.

“The answer is absolutely not,” he said. “Did it help to know that prayer would inform me during tough moments? Absolutely.”

Bush described the Bible as “an amazing book,” and ABC’s Cynthia McFadden asked him if the Bible is literally true.

“You know, probably not,” the president said. “No, I’m not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it.”

Bush said it is possible to believe God created the Earth while accepting the science of evolution and that Christians, Jews and Muslims all pray to the same God.

“I do believe there’s an Almighty that is broad and big enough, loving enough [and that love] encompass a lot of people,” he said. “I don’t think God is a narrow concept. I think it’s a broad concept. I just happen to believe the way to God is through Christ, and others have different avenues toward God, and I believe we pray to the same Almighty. I do.”

The president added that does not mean he and the leader of the Taliban worship the same deity.

“I’m not so sure he’s praying to a God,” he said. “I think anybody who murders innocent people to achieve their objective is not a religious person. Now they think they’re religious, and they may play like they are religious, but I don’t think they are religious. They’re not praying to the God I pray to, the God of peace and love.”

Bush said he is sometimes unfairly painted as viewing people who are not Christians as inferior to him. While he was governor of Texas, he said, a reporter asked him if you have to believe in Christ to go to heaven. Bush said he told the reporter the Bible says that, but Billy Graham once told him not to play God. The writer left out the Billy Graham part, and a lot of people in Texas read in their Newspaper, “Bush to Jews: Go to hell.”

“It was unbelievably unfair, but it’s an interesting lesson, that you cannot underestimate how people can misread religion and religious intent,” the president said. “I’m sure people will say George Bush is a Christian and therefore he can’t possibly relate to me or he doesn’t like me, or he thinks I’m condemned. I’m sorry that’s the case, because that’s not the way I feel.”

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