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The Jesus Factor – Inside the Faith of President Bush

( [email protected] ) May 01, 2004 09:19 AM EDT

A PBS ‘Frontline” special on evangelicals and the faith of President Bush, which aired on Thursday, April 29, revealed that the faith of the President was indeed “authentic, real and genuine.”

The 1-hour special, entitled, “The Jesus Factor” scrutinized the role of the president’s faith in the decisions he made in his presidency for the past 4 years.

"There's no question that the president's faith is real, that it's authentic, that it's genuine," Doug Wead, an evangelical adviser to Bush's father in the 1988 presidential campaign, said in an interview for the program archived on the PBS website.

Wead continued: "... and there's no question that it's calculated. I know that sounds like a contradiction. But that will always be the case for a public figure, regardless of their faith, whether they're Islamic, or Jewish or Christian. ... Gandhi once said, 'He who says that religion and politics don't mix understands neither one.'"

Several other prominent evangelicals were featured on the special, including the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Council Richard Land, and the vice president of governmental affairs with the National Association of Evangelicals Richard Cizik.

Land, comparing former President Reagan's opposition to abortion with Bush's, said Reagan "was pro-life by gut instinct. It just horrified him. The whole process horrified him. He just couldn't conceive of people arguing that people ought to be able to routinely kill unborn babies. But it was more of a traditional value, American value, Western civilization kind of gut instinct with him. With George W. Bush, it is a settled faith conviction, and I'll take settled faith convictions over gut instincts anytime."

Cizik told frontline that in terms of the war on terrorism, "I sleep better at night knowing he is a man who isn't afraid to say he prays, just like George Washington and many other presidents," according to the interview transcript. "Yes, it's a comfort. I think he is a man who has a proper humility, who doesn't let his faith or his religious beliefs improperly influence his role as commander in chief. But he's got a healthy balance, and I sleep better knowing it. Sure. No doubt about it."

Two religious critics of the Bush administration, C. Welton Gaddy, head of The Interfaith Alliance, and Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, reviewed and rebutted the evangelicals’ statements during the latter half of the program.

The documentary also included video clips of Bush reflective of his faith. The full PBS program, including the full text of the interviews can be viewed online http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/jesus/president/