COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Despite the upcoming presidential election in November, President Bush boldly spoke out against late-term abortions, gay marriages and other “hot-button” issues in a March 11 statement. While his support for pro-family and Christian values received harsh criticism from pro-gays and liberals, evangelical Christians across the nation joined in a chorus of unwavering praise to the “born-again” Christian president.
"In my lifetime, I can't remember a president who has spoken out so clearly on Christian values," said Ted Welch, a 57-year-old minister for the First Christian Church in Panhandle, Texas. "This election, these things he's speaking out on could kill him - and I respect that."
Welch, similar to many Christian evangelicals across the states have been “pleasantly surprised” by President Bush’s stance on the critical issues that affect both the society and church.
Welch’s wife, Jan, said she and other Christian evangelicals have been concerned about the way the nation is going.
"It's important to have God bless our country, and the way we're going, it's hard to ask him to bless it," Jan Welch said.
Ted added, "Our nation was built on Christian principles and they worked."
Answering their call, Bush on Thursday spoke to the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group representing millions of conservative Christians, emphasizing his “compassionate conservative” goals he holds.
In his speech, delivered via Internet, Bush reaffirmed his support to the constitutional ban on gay marriage and promised to nominate judges who wont “legislate from the bench.” He also said he would curtail abortion, specifically the type done in the second trimester of labor.
"There is no doubt that President Bush is the candidate of choice among those of the Christian right," said Jim Riley, professor of politics at Regis University. "It is a necessary but not a sufficient segment of the population to push him into a second term."
According to Riley, evangelical Christians are a powerful voting block, although their public stature has dimmed somewhat since the late 1980s and late 1990s.
Andy Schowengerdt, 42, a family practice doctor from Dodge City, Kan., said he thought the opposition to gay marriage was "very important."
"It would clear up confusion of the definition of marriage that to this point we've presumed was understood," he said.
The Rev. Tim Ralph, 50, of the New Covenant Fellowship Church in Larkspur said Bush has encouraged the evangelical community.
"I think he's addressing the issues dear to the heart of every evangelical pastor in this country," Ralph said. "I just love the man. He's been a breath of fresh air in our presidency."