White House Staffers Gather For Bible Study
- NHNE News List
Current Members: 722
Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.
WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS GATHER FOR BIBLE STUDY VOLUNTARY MEETINGS EMBRACE
PRESIDENT'S EMPHASIS ON FAITH
By Judy Keen
Monday, October 14, 2002
WASHINGTON -- President Bush talks openly and proudly about his active
spiritual faith. In another, less well known sign of the religious devotion
that permeates the administration, some White House staffers have been
meeting weekly at hour-long prayer and Bible study sessions.
Bush aides organized the sessions before his inauguration. One group meets
during the lunch hour on Tuesdays, another on Thursdays. Attendance is
voluntary and, although the lessons are Christian in nature, non-Christians
Typically, 25 to 50 of the 1,700 people who work in the White House complex
-- department heads, secretaries and mail clerks --attend each session. They
meet in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, an ornate building next to
the White House that houses the offices of Vice President Cheney and other
Federal workplace guidelines issued in 1997 permit religious activities but
warn supervisors to ensure that employees do not feel coerced to participate
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church
and State, says courts have not ruled that religious study in public
buildings is inherently unconstitutional.
''If there's equal treatment among people who don't attend and there's no
pressure, then, frankly, it doesn't violate the First Amendment,'' he says.
''We have not gotten a single complaint from anyone at the White House.''
Controversy erupted last year when The Washington Post reported that
Attorney General John Ashcroft holds daily Bible studies at the Justice
Department. Some staffers said they felt uncomfortable about those sessions
because their boss led them and they felt pressure to attend.
The president doesn't attend the Bible study meetings. Nor does White House
chief of staff Andy Card, whose wife, Kathleene, is a minister at a United
Methodist church near Washington.
There have been similar Bible study classes in previous administrations,
White House spokeswoman Anne Womack says. During his presidency, Jimmy
Carter, a Baptist, sometimes taught adult Sunday school at Washington's
First Baptist Church. Richard Nixon, a Quaker, invited evangelists to the
White House to speak to staffers.
Last Thursday, author Bruce Wilkinson was the guest speaker at a White House
Bible study. Wilkinson wrote The Prayer of Jabez, a best-selling book based
on a character in the Bible.
Wilkinson spoke admiringly of Bush's faith at a breakfast at the Heritage
Foundation, a conservative think tank, before his White House visit.
As the president copes with the war on terrorism, Wilkinson said, ''The Lord
is in front of him.''
Bush starts every day on his knees in prayer. He reads the Bible each
morning and studies a Bible lesson daily.
Religion has been central to his life since 1985, when a conversation with
the Rev. Billy Graham prompted him to renew his faith. Bush has said that
his religious beliefs helped him quit drinking when he turned 40.
He was raised an Episcopalian but became a Methodist when he got married and
joined the church of his wife, Laura.
Religion infuses Bush's policies and speeches. The president has proposed
allowing religious groups to compete for federal money to operate programs
for the needy. That legislation has stalled in Congress.
Bush often thanks his audiences for praying for him and argues that there is
a role for religious faith in government.
''Our governments must not fear faith,'' he said this month at Republican
Party fundraiser in Baltimore. ''We must welcome faith in our society.''
NHNE News List:
To subscribe, send a message to:
To unsubscribe, send a message to:
To review current posts:
Published by NewHeavenNewEarth (NHNE)
NHNE Website: http://www.nhne.com/
Phone: (928) 282-6120
Fax: (815) 346-1492
Appreciate what we are doing?
You can say so with a tax-deductible donation:
P.O. Box 2242
Sedona, AZ 86339