He never would have made it to the White House in 2001 as the country’s 43rd
president without the faith-based decision he made in 1986.
“I could not have quit drinking without faith,” former President
George W. Bush writes in his memoir, Decision Points, which released
Tuesday. “I also don’t think my faith would be as strong if I hadn’t quit
It was the first significant decision among several that ultimately solidified
Bush’s resolve to act on his belief that God was calling him to lead the nation
as president, the memoir shows, according to a report published Wednesday by
Religion News Service (RNS).
That his politics were influenced by his faith in God after Bush took office
in Jan. 2001 is no revelation. But now he recounts in his own words, across the
497 pages, the ways his religious belief shaped his life and his politics, and
thus his administration, RNS reported. His reliance on God, though not the
central thrust of the book, remains a theme throughout, the report stated.
Bush’s decision to quit drinking came a year after evangelist Billy Graham
visited the Bush family vacation home in Maine in 1985. Bush writes in his
memoir that at the time he occasionally read the Bible but viewed it as “a
kind of self-improvement course,” RNS reported. Graham showed him that the
point of the Scriptures was to follow Christ. After later joining a weekly
Bible study, Bush started reading the Bible every morning, and it became a
practice he continued during his presidency.
While Graham helped Bush reach his pivotal decision about alcohol, Bush credits
Texas pastor Mark Craig of First United Methodist Church in Austin as inspiring
him to pursue the presidency, RNS stated. The moment came during a sermon when
Craig recounted that Moses was at first hesitant to follow God’s directive to
lead the Israelites into their promised land.
“We have the opportunity, each and every one of us, to do the right thing,
and for the right reason,” Bush recalled Craig preaching, according to
RNS. At the other end of the pew, Barbara Bush mouthed to her son, “He is
talking to you.”
Details of how Bush became a Christian and the ways his spiritual journey
shaped his then-first term in office is also recounted in The Faith of
George W. Bush, published by Charisma
House in November 2003.
RNS highlighted examples from the memoir of times when Bush noted his faith
and moral values playing a role in both his chief-executive and personal
decisions and revealed that:
- His push for global AIDS relief was fueled by his visit
to a Ugandan clinic, where he left feeling challenged by the biblical
admonition: “To whom much is given, much is required.” When he knelt
at the casket of Pope John Paul II in 2005, he prayed for ailing ABC anchorman
- His moral views contributed to his decision to ban
federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. He revealed that as a
teenager, he drove his mother to the hospital after a miscarriage as she held
the fetus in a jar. “I remember thinking: ‘There was a human life, a
little brother or sister,”‘ he writes.
- In a meeting with John Paul, he told the pontiff that
his church’s “steadfast support of life provided a firm moral foundation
on which pro-life politicians like me could take a stand.”
- When he decided in 2001 to ban the use of federal funds
“to support the destruction of life for medical gain,” he was struck
by the personal nature of the criticism. “They mocked my appearance, my
accent and my religious beliefs,” he wrote. “I was labeled a Nazi, a
war criminal, and Satan himself,” but he says the “shrill
debate” never prompted him to second-guess his decision.
- He defends his Office of Faith-based and Community
Initiatives, which he said helped more than 5,000 charities receive federal
His reliance on faith continued through his last day
in the White House: “I began Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the same way I had
started every day for the past eight years: I read the Bible.”