Alarm Over Anti-Muslim Comments at Southern Baptist Convention Meeting

June 23, 2002

Source: The Washington Post

On June 23, 2002, The Washington Post featured the editorial "Back to the Bully Pulpit." It noted, "Some people who follow these things say no one should be surprised by the anti-Muslim bigotry of a former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention. Maybe ... we shouldn't have been shocked, only disgusted. What is surprising, and more than disappointing, is the White House response." The editorial noted the importance of Bush's calls for tolerance after September 11. "Mr. Vines's remarks offered an opportunity for a similar presidential lesson. ... Mr. Vines, who won support from other Baptist leaders for his remarks, made clear his belief that Islam is inferior to other religions. ... The very next day, Mr. Bush addressed a meeting of the Southern Baptist Coalition by satellite and praised Baptists for their 'religious tolerance.' When questioned about the Vines remark in his Thursday briefing, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said, 'It's something the president definitely disagrees with. The president said that Islam is a religion of peace.' That's good to know, but it's not enough to have Mr. Fleischer say so."

The President's remarks to the SBC.