In his Feb. 6 address at the 51st annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, President George W. Bush again revealed his insensitivity to the 30 to 40 million Americans who don’t believe in divine providence.
Speaking to members of the House, Senate, Cabinet, military brass, ministers, foreign dignitaries and their families, Bush pontificated: “We can be confident in the ways of Providence, even when they are far from our understanding. Events aren’t moved by blind change and chance. Behind all of life and all of history, there’s a dedication and purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful God.”
“The Almighty God,” he said, “is a God to everybody, every person.”
Bush expatiated on the value of prayer. Sounding like Wilford Brimley in the oatmeal commercial, he said having a National Prayer Breakfast “is the right thing to do, because this is a nation of prayer.”
How does he know? First-hand experience: “See, I work the ropelines a lot, and I hear all kinds of things on the ropelines. But the thing I hear the most, the comment I hear the most from our fellow citizens, regardless of their political party or philosophy, is, Mr. President, I pray for you and your family, and so does my family. I turn to them without hesitation and say, it is the greatest gift you can give anybody, is to pray on their behalf.”
Apparently, it hasn’t occurred to Bush that his empirical data may be severely skewed. No infidel, assuming one could be found in a Bush ropeline, is apt to tell him: “Mr. President, I don’t pray for you and your family, nor does my family. In fact, we don’t pray at all because we think prayer is utterly inefficacious.”
Bush describes himself as an inveterate supplicant: “I pray. I pray for strength, I pray for guidance, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray to offer my thanks for a kind and generous Almighty God.”
Perhaps he even prays for Saddam Hussein.
Had Bush not packaged his personal beliefs as inviolable truths, his sermonizing might be excusable. Like every other American, he has the right to tell people what he believes.
Millions of us believe the cosmos, life and human experience can be adequately understood without appealing to the intervention of supernatural entities. Both intellectually and morally, the world view of atheists and agnostics is as defensible as the Judeo-Christian perspective of President Bush.
America won’t be truly free as long as presidents try to foist articles of religious faith on everyone.