Is Bush's Tollerance of Islam Eroding His Evangelical Base?
(AgapePress) - Religious political correctness continues to be a growing theme at the White House.
In December, the President welcomed two dozen Muslim children to celebrate Eid, a three-day feast which follows Ramadan. He told the children that Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are all great faiths and have a lot in common.
Many Christians are troubled that Bush has tried to portray Islam as being a faith that is on an equal footing with Christianity and seems to be promoting the idea that there are many paths to God. In fact, there is a report that some conservative Christians feel the President is being too nice in his displays of tolerance toward the religion - among them, his hosting of a Ramadan celebration at the White House, the first ever held there and attended by a U.S. president.
In a report from the website Beliefnet, several respected Christian leaders are quoted as saying Bush's "group hug" with Muslims almost amounts to a denial of his personal Christian beliefs, and certainly proves the Chief Executive is ignoring his evangelical base. For example, Janet Folger - director of the Center for Reclaiming America - recalls her reaction to the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
"My heart sank when they opened [that service] in the name of God, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, and Allah," Folger told Beliefnet. "I don't pray in the name of Baal any more than I pray in the name of Allah. Allah is a different god. If you look in the Bible, God isn't real fond of people who pray to false gods."
And the Family Policy Network, a Virginia-based pro-family organization, notes the White House's disagreement with evangelist Franklin Graham when he described Islam as a "wicked, violent" religion - a statement he refuses to withdraw. FPN President Joe Glover says Christians and other pro-family leaders are confused why Bush seems to be bending over backward to "pay homage to Islam."
"Conservative evangelicals love Muslims," Glover says in the Beliefnet article. "They care for them. They want to provide religious freedom for them. However, they are diametrically opposed to Islam."
As for Bush's evangelical base? Glover believes the President has no desire to please evangelical Christians - he just wants their vote. He also says while Bush should make it clear the ongoing war is against terrorists and countries that harbor them - rather than against the religion of the terrorists themselves - he should not attack Christian leaders like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell who Glover says "speak the truth about the violent nature of Islam."
Perhaps the President should be more concerned about his evangelical base. Beliefnet cites an expert on politics and evangelicals who say almost 40% of those who voted for Bush in 2000 were evangelicals. John Green says given the closeness of Bush's victory over Al Gore, even a 5% drop in support from evangelicals could have made a difference in the outcome. A 10% drop, Green says, clearly would be a major problem if the next election is close.