The late George H.W. Bush was “one of the finest, one of the most generous men I have ever known, said evangelical Christian leader James Dobson, breaking from his regularly scheduled Family Talk radio program this week to honor the 41st president.

Dobson released a statement in which he recalled meeting Bush when Bush was vice president under President Ronald Reagan.

“Mr. Bush invited me, at that time, to his office in the Eisenhower building in May of 1988. One month later, my mother died suddenly. Despite our casual acquaintance, the vice president took the time to write me a handwritten personal letter of consolation at our loss. That grew into a casual friendship when I became only one of millions of others around the world who considered President Bush to be their friend,” Dobson said.

“When he was nominated by his party in 1992, he called for America to be a softer, gentler nation. There can be no more accurate words with which to characterize this good man. He genuinely cared about people and led our nation through perilous times. We will miss him, and send our love and prayers to President George W. Bush and his entire family.”

Dobson, an author and psychologist who earned a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in child development, founded Focus on the Family and the James Dobson Family Institute, which produces his daily radio program, “Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk.”

On Thursday, he replayed an interview he did with Bush when he was a candidate for president. Bush spoke of the importance of families, the scourge of pornography and his belief that America is a “good and decent society.”

Listen to the program:

Bush expressed concern about the decline in American families, but he said it was a problem government could not solve.

Bush called pornography “a sickness out there,” pointing out that even the government through the National Endowment for the Arts was guilty of “presentations of the most vile kinds of sexual orientation.”

“You gotta be against bigotry and obscenity,” Bush said.

He recommitted himself to protection of the unborn, calling for adoption and abstinence. He said families should be “teaching the young people … that it’s wrong to engage in the practices that result in these horrible increase in abortions.”

Bush called on parents upset with “what’s happening to the culture” to get involved in politics and make a difference themselves.

Dobson asked Bush how people could pray for him.

“I would simply ask the prayers of people, not in a partisan sense, maybe not even in winning an election that I think has a lot to do about the direction of our country, but the president as president,” he said.

“Lincoln went to his knees a lot in that wonderful White House in which I’m privileged to live. And I understand that better, now. Because I don’t believe that an atheist could be president of the United States. I don’t honestly believe in my heart, that if a person didn’t have faith and didn’t get strength from a Supreme Being, that that person could serve as president.

“And so I would simply invite the prayers for the president of this country, and then I’ll sort out all the politics and go through the long political campaign. But we’re a very special country. We’re a very stable country. Our values, our national values are sound, and so I would pray for the president who’s president and hope that he can profit by the strength that God gives us, and that’s all I’d ask.”

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