President Bush and the First Lady explained their position on faith and politics to a nationwide audience during an interview on CNN’s Larry King Live, August 12, 2004. The presidential couple also took a stand for “the culture of life” and the federal marriage amendment in iterating their views.
“Senator Kerry got a huge ovation at his convention. When he said he will not put his religion, carry his religion on his sleeve, implying that you do,” said Larry King. “Does it come to the office? Does the faith come to the office?”
“You can't separate your faith from your life. I make decisions on what I think is best for the country but my faith is important to me and a lot of times my faith comes up because I thank people for their prayers and I mean people from all religions,” replied George Bush. “But, no, I think the church ought to be separate from the state, the state separate from the church but I don't see how you can separate your faith as a person and my faith is an integral part of my life.”
Laura Bush supported her husband’s stance, saying, “I think he's right. I mean, you know, whatever anyone's faith is is a part of their lives. But the great thing about our country is we have the right to worship if we want to, however we want to or not to worship. And, you know, as we look around the world right now that's one of our most important freedoms and they're -- you know, I know George knows that. I mean, I think that's the whole point of the separation of church and state but it's also our right.
King then commented, “But you don't see this as a Christianity against the world,” in reference to Bush’s decision to declare war on terror.
George Bush answered, “No, of course not.”
Bush said the issue was not between religions but rather a fight between those who love freedom and those who inhibit it.
“I see it as people who love freedom against those who prevent others from being free and I say that it a lot when asked about religion that the greatest thing about America is you can practice your faith, or have no faith at all and you're equally an American. And if you choose to -- if you believe in the Almighty, you can -- you're equally an American. If you're a Jew, Christian or Muslim or Hindi or whatever. It is one of the great traits and traditions of our country, where people can worship the way you see fit. And that is not the case in parts of the world,” said Bush.
Bush also gave examples of where such hostilities were taking place.
“Take Afghanistan: Not only could you not worship freely, but if you didn't worship according to the Taliban, you were whipped publicly. For example, if you were a woman, if you weren't in lockstep with these dictators and tyrants, that you would be brutalized. And America stands in stark contrast to that. We're the opposite end of that spectrum,” said Bush.
Moving onto the next issue, King asked Bush if he wanted “a constitutional amendment to protect heterosexual marriage.”
“Yes, I do,” said Bush. “Because I'm worried that the laws on the books that basically define marriage as between a man -- not basically, do define marriage between a man and a woman will be ruled unconstitutional, and then judges will make the decision as to the definition of marriage. And I think it's too important an issue for judges to make that decision. And I think that one way to guarantee that traditional marriage is defined as between a man and a woman is through the constitutional process...”
However, when it came to the issue about the union of gays, Bush said the issue should be left up to the states.
“Well, that's up to states, you know. If states choose to do that, in other words, if they want to provide legal protections for gays, that's great. That's fine. But I do not want to change the definition of marriage. I don't think our country should, from the traditional definition of marriage that's between a man or a woman,” said Bush.
Bush also explained that the constitutional amendment process ensures that the people are involved.
“The other thing about the constitutional process, it will get states involved. In other words, the people ought to be involved in this decision. And so that's why I took the stand I took,” said Bush.
To pass the amendment, the bill needs to pass two-thirds of both congressional houses and needs to be ratified by three fourths of the state.
Regarding stem cell research, human cloning and suicide, Bush and First Lady Laura Bush said the society must be one that “promotes the culture of life.”
“I think a society which promotes a culture of life is a compassionate society and a decent society,” said the President.
In 2001 Bush announced he would allow federal funding for research on the lines of embryonic stem cells that existed at the time -- in other words, those lines in which the embryo previously had been destroyed. However, he prohibited federal fund being used on future stem cell research that destroyed embryos.
"There's hundreds of scientists now doing research based upon my decision," Bush said. "What I did say was that because a stem cell is derived from the destruction of a human embryo, that there's an ethical dilemma as well."
“[T]his country's got to be very careful on destroying life to save life," Bush added. "It's a debate that needs to move forward in a very careful way."
On the issue of therapeutic human cloning, which the democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said he supports, Bush said it leads down a “slippery slope.”
"I think that leads down a slippery slope for ... designer clones," Bush said. "It's a classic discussion between ethics and science."
Therapeutic human cloning involves cloning an embryo in order to harvest its stem cells, thus destroying the cloned embryo.
Meanwhile, first lady Laura Bush explained why she had been outspoken in recent weeks about the issue on stem-cell research.
"I have been speaking out, because there is not a ban on stem cell research, and that seems to be the buzzword now," Laura Bush said. "... The fact is that the president is the ... only president who has authorized any research on embryonic stem cells, and several countries have a complete ban on embryonic stem cell research.”
Laura Bush, who lost her father to Alzheimer’s, explained that while scientists are ‘hopeful’ for a cure to such diseases through Alzheimer’s, nothing has ever been proven.
"... [F]rom what you hear or what you read you'd think that there is a cure for Alzheimer's just around the corner,” she said. “... scientists are hopeful, but it's very, very preliminary. There is adult stem cell research, which is very promising, but there is no ban on stem cell research."
Bush also agreed, saying, “To say that we have banned embryonic stem cell research is simply not the truth," the president said. "But to say that I do care about human life is the truth.”
To view the entire transcript of the interview, please visit: http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0408/12/lkl.00.html
The Presidential family will appear on Larry King again on Sunday, August 15.