Is President George W. Bush the new leader of the Religious Right?
Some news media observers seem to think so. On Dec. 24 The Washington Post carried an article asserting, "Pat Robertson's resignation this month as president of the Christian Coalition confirmed the ascendance of a new leader of the religious right in America: George W. Bush."
The newspaper argued that Bush is the movement's "de facto leader -- a status even Ronald Reagan, though admired by religious conservatives, never earned." Reporter Dana Milbank quoted several Religious Right leaders who agreed.
Ralph Reed, former executive director of the Christian Coalition and now a GOP political consultant in Atlanta, told The Post religious conservatives no longer need outside organizations because they are in the highest circles of power.
"You're no longer throwing rocks at the building; you're in the building," said Reed, who serves as Republican chairman of Georgia.
Reed added that many in the Religious Right believe Bush's elevation to the White House was due to a divine plan.
"I've heard a lot of `God knew something we didn't,'" he said. "In the evangelical mind, the notion of an omniscient God is central to their theology. He had a knowledge nobody else had: He knew George Bush had the ability to lead in this compelling way."
Although Bush reportedly eschews any talk of a divine plan, Tim Goeglein, a White House religious liaison, told the evangelical magazine World recently, "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility."
In the primary season, Bush impressed many Religious Right activists when he named Jesus Christ as his favorite political philosopher. He has also spoken several times about how his religious conversion helped him quit drinking and changed his life in other ways. During the campaign, he assiduously courted the Religious Right and frequently spoke at movement conferences and meetings. …