George W. Bush--A "Changed Man"

July 24, 2000

Source: The Washington Post

On July 24, 2000, The Washington Post published an article about the religious beliefs of presidential candidate George W. Bush and the remarkable change his 1985 conversion has made on his life. "To millions of evangelical Christians, the way Bush talks, especially about how finding Christ helped him stop drinking, is familiar, even endearing...Like many born-again baby boomers, he turned to religion as an antidote to his own waywardness during the 1960s. Yet ironically, what distinguishes this group's form of worship is some of its '60s flavor...While Bush and his contemporaries might faithfully attend church, their religious expression at its core rejects institutions. Instead, they have their epiphanies as Bush did, alone with his Bible, through a chance meeting with a prophet, or in a Bible study group of fellow Texas businessmen staving off midlife crises."

Bush has been honest about his religious beliefs, although he does not enjoy when others question his sincerity, saying in a recent interview, "I hope this isn't another story where you doubt my authenticity. I'm getting a little nervous about writers snooping around my heart." He and his wife Laura attend Austin's Tarrytown United Methodist, with its "implicit disapproval of any overt emotional display." And while he credits his new-found faith with helping him quit drinking, he does not wish to go on and on about it. "I'm not really the type to wander off and sit down and go through deep wrestling with my soul. I just quit drinking. Enough. Totally. I stopped. Not that complicated. Can we talk about something else?"

While Bush is certainly committed to his Christian beliefs, he is less sure now about bringing them into the political arena. "After the controversies over his campaign appearance at Bob Jones University in South Carolina and his declaration at one debate that Jesus is his favorite political philosopher, Bush says he's uncomfortable talking about his personal faith. 'What troubles me is, when you mix religion and politics it's a very dangerous mix,' he said. 'I don't want people voting for me because I'm more religious--'Vote for me. I quit drinking!' If they like me,' says Bush, 'they like me.'"