The Religiosity of George W. Bush: Is the Personal Presidential?

By Cohen, Edmund D. | Free Inquiry, June-July 2004 | Go to article overview

The Religiosity of George W. Bush: Is the Personal Presidential?


Cohen, Edmund D., Free Inquiry


Until recently, I had not seriously thought that supernaturalism or superstition could be an issue of concern as regards the second Bush presidency. George W. Bush is, to be sure, a practicing fundamentalist Christian who begins each day meditating on the fustian prose of Oswald Chambers's My Utmost for His Highest. But he is also an Ivy League graduate, the scion of an old Republican establishment family, and the chosen front man for the conservative Republican Party establishment. Surely that establishment must have vetted its candidate well enough to rule out nominating an unstable religious eccentric. When he speaks in churchly terms, surely he is only employing regional idiom and one cannot take him literally. Or can one?

When then-Governor of Texas Bush was seeking the presidency in 2000, a story circulated that he had phoned the televangelist James Robison and said to him, "I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for president." (1) Even that struck me as nothing more than standard Bible Belt hyperbole. What changed my mind is Stephen Mansfield's unauthorized 2004 campaign hagiography, The Faith of George W. Bush. (2) In it, Mansfield sets out an account of events following upon that phone call, based on an apparently recent interview with Robison:

   On the day that the evangelist entered Bush's office, he was
   surprised to find political strategist Karl Rove there as well,
   and even more surprised at what Bush was about to say. "My
   life is changed," the governor said. "I had a drinking problem. I
   won't say I was an alcoholic, but it affected my relationships,
   even with my kids. It could have destroyed me. But I've given
   my life to Christ."

   Robison, who had heard rumors of Bush's conversion, was
   struck by the sincerity he sensed. He was not prepared, though,
   for what came next. "I feel like God wants me to run for president,"
   Bush said. "I can't explain it, but I sense my country is
   going to need me. Something is going to happen, and, at that
   time, my country is going to need me. I know it won't be easy,
   on me or my family, but God wants me to do it."

   "In fact," Bush continued, "I really don't want to run. My
   father was president. My whole family has been affected by it. I
   know the price. I know what it will mean. I would be perfectly
   happy to have people point at me someday when I'm buying my
   fishing lures at Wal-Mart and say, 'That was our governor.'
   That's all I want. And if I run for president, that kind of life
   will be over. My life will never be the same. But I feel God wants
   me to do this, and I must do it."

The president's prophetic profession, if it really was expressed this way, definitely goes over the line into the realm of magical thinking and delusion. Neither he nor Karl Rove has come forward to correct or to clarify Mansfield's account.

The president and Robison enjoy a very close relationship. Both the White House and Robison downplay it, and the mainstream media have not caught onto it yet. Robison visited with the president in the Oval Office in spring 2001, fall 2002, and perhaps at other times. Robison has been a guest repeatedly and perhaps frequently at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Of "Bush's unique friendship with James Robison ...," Mansfield writes, "[t]he two have prayed together while hiking Bush's ranch or talked about faith, gun in hand, while waiting for game to approach." (4)

Robison was the featured speaker at the prayer breakfast preceding Bush's inauguration as Texas governor. In February 1999, then-Governor Bush appeared on Robison's televangelism show, Life Today--his only appearance on that kind of television program. Of the frequent phone conversations between the president and Robison, Darren Barbee, writing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, reported:

   In the new century, his cell phone rings with George W. … 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Religiosity of George W. Bush: Is the Personal Presidential?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.