A spokesman for President Bush says the nation’s leader lives his Christian faith, but doesn’t impose it, and so it really doesn’t matter if the annual Christmas greeting card from the White House is a specifically Christian “Merry Christmas” or a generic “happy holidays.”
Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, asked presidential spokesman Tony Snow about the greeting that is coming from the president this year.
“WorldNetDaily notes that in previous years the president has been criticized for sending out generic holiday cards at this time of the year, and thus downplaying the celebration of Christmas, a holy day celebrated by a majority of Americans,” he said. “And my question: Does the president believe that the majority of America’s Jews, Muslims or Hindus would be offended if the card sent by this practicing Christian president were to mention Christmas, instead of just the season, unspecified?”
“I don’t know, Les,” Snow said. “The thing is … he’s made no secret of his Christian faith. He also believes in religious tolerance…”
“Doesn’t he think that they would be tolerant of him? I mean, as a Christian president sending out a Christmas card…” Kinsolving continued.
“You’re always asking me, does the president believe, on wonderfully provocative questions that no sensible press secretary would waste time asking the president about. So the fact is that I don’t have the opportunity to ask him about Christmas cards,” Snow said.
And he said on the “priority list” of projects to accomplish, Christmas greetings are not a top priority for the limited time he has with the president.
“What the president believes is that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior. He also believes that in this time and age it is important to welcome the freedom of all people to worship in accordance with their faith,” Snow said.
Bush has made his Christian faith a public part of his presidency many times, and an analysis of his actions by theologian Wayne A. Grudem said he actually has lived his faith much of the time.
A report by Baptist Press just a few weeks ago quoted the research professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary in Scottsdale, Ariz., saying Bush is successful from an evangelical Christian perspective because his work has increased freedom for Gospel proclamation across the globe.
The BP report said Grudem weighed the Bush presidency on 10 issues that include protection of life, marriage/family and the courts, human dignity, the political process, the environment, economics, the war on terror, communication skills and personal character and faith.
Bush “clearly identifies himself as an evangelical Christian” who not only acknowledges the Bible, but reads it and believes it, the report said. Grudem also noted Bush continues acts of kindness and moral leadership aligning with a Christian worldview, despite relentless attacks from political opponents and a secular press.
“I am so very thankful for an outstanding, I think, excellent president,” Grudem told BP. “What more could we ask from a president, the man who has the most difficult job in the whole world? I think [he] has continually exhibited personal conduct that is above reproach, giving moral leadership to the nation by example of life and by kindness that amazes me toward those in politics and in the press who continue relentlessly to attack him.”
A year ago, when the White House greeting once again did not mention “Christmas,” WND founder and Editor Joseph Farah told the Washington Post he threw his out, prompting a media rush to cover the story.
“Because I was quoted in the Washington Post this week as saying I threw my White House Christmas card in the trash upon seeing the “happy holidays” message, I’ve been accused of being a troublemaker. E-mailers are telling me I should get a life, find something more important to worry about, leave the president alone, find a new country … You get the idea,”" he wrote.
“Honestly, however, I don’t care all that much about the White House Christmas card. I write a daily column and I do a daily three-hour radio talk show. Not once before this week have I ever mentioned the White House Christmas card – even though I have received them annually and been disappointed by them since at least 2002. If the Christmas card issue was that important to me, I had many opportunities to say it,” he said in a subsequent column.
The uproar reached the realm of late-night television when NBC’s Conan O’Brien opened his monologue with a joke about the controversy.
“President Bush is in hot water,” said O’Brien. “He’s angered conservatives. He’s being criticized by Christian groups because his Christmas cards didn’t say ‘Christmas.’
“Yeah, in response, the president said: ‘You try spelling it!’” O’Brien joked, to a large reception of laughs.
The quote later was picked up by the Associated Press and United Press International, and was published in media outlets across America and the world, including the Scotsman and the Age in Australia.
However, in yesterday’s briefing, Snow didn’t elaborate on Bush’s disagreement with the title of former President Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.” In promoting that publication on a speaking tour, Carter has explained that it is the Palestinians who are being oppressed and restricted by Israelis in the Middle East and doesn’t mention the terrorist attacks on Israel.
“Does the president believe that Israel, which has Arab Muslims as elected members of the Knesset, is guilty of apartheid, as charged in the title of new book by President Carter?” Kinsolving asked.
“No,” Snow said.
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