President Bush said recently he doesn't understand “how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord.” But that testament brought a protest from one of the country's top Jewish leaders.
Bush made the comment in an interview with editors and reporters from the Washington Times, reported by the newspaper Jan. 12.
David Saperstein, director of the Washington-based Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, told reporters Jan. 13 he is “deeply troubled” by Bush's remarks. “Such an assertion violates the spirit of the Constitution's ban on religious tests for political office and endangers the strength of the religious pluralism and tolerance that the president has so often affirmed-and re-affirmed in the same interview,” Saperstein continued.
Bush prefaced his statement, according to the newspaper, with an assertion that he supports the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom for all Americans, including those who have no faith.
“I fully understand that the job of the president is, and must always be, protecting the great right of people to worship or not worship as they see fit,” he told the Times. “That's what distinguishes us from the Taliban. The greatest freedom we have-or one of the greatest freedoms-is the right to worship the way you see fit.”
But Saperstein said Bush needs to explain himself further. He noted Jan. 13 that the Religious Action Center had already “called on the president to act affirmatively to prevent Americans from misunderstanding his remarks by clarifying that he rejects any religious test for the office of the presidency.”
Associated Baptist Press