One Consistent Theme

Rarely in our history has a president had to address issues of such gravity as President Bush did in his remarkable State of the Union message. And rarely has any president shown such consistency of conviction. You could see, running through the entire message, a consistent ethic, a worldview respecting the dignity and sanctity of human life. But Christians and pro-lifers are often accused of caring about unborn children, but having little interest in them once they're born. That's never been fair, but the president's speech put that criticism to rest once and for all. A pro-life ethic is about more than abortion, the president made clear. It includes care for the poor, the needy, and the despised. The president spoke about the need for affordable healthcare for all Americans and tort reform to keep medical costs down. He committed himself to helping drug addicts. And he mentioned "visiting prisoners, providing shelter to battered women, bringing companionship to lonely seniors." Let them experience, the president said in words familiar to all, the "wonder-working power" of faith-based solutions. At the White House Christmas party last month, the president told me that he would include prisoners' kids in the State of the Union. He surely kept his word, pledging 450 million dollars toward mentor programs for disadvantaged junior high school students and the children of prisoners. This is good news for the "least of these," and it promotes, as the president put it, "a culture that values every life." Only after focusing on the compassionate care of the living did he go on to tell the Congress, " . . . we must not overlook the weakest among us." He then asked them to bring an end to the gruesome procedure known as "partial-birth abortion" and to pass a total ban on all human cloning because "no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment." The same worldview was evident when the president called for major assistance to alleviate the suffering and save the orphans of the African AIDS epidemic. You have heard me talk about this often on "BreakPoint." Regarding the war on terrorism and a war in Iraq, the president made a strong case for a preemptive strike against Saddam Hussein. Why does Saddam Hussein want these weapons of mass destruction that he is stockpiling? Bush correctly answered, "The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons is to dominate, to intimidate, or to attack." Bush spoke convincingly of conducting the war justly. If the evidence supports his assertions -- and more intelligence will be released soon by the Secretary of State -- then the president's position meets the just war test. "The liberty we prize," Bush said, "is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity." What we saw in the State of the Union was a biblical worldview clearly fleshed out by the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, addressing the Congress, the American people, and the watching world. Other presidents have talked about God and have ended talks with "God bless America." But I had the sense that this president, in talking about the providence of God and God's love, was doing more than the usual civil religion ritual. What we saw in this speech was a reflection of his own biblical worldview, making Tuesday night an historic moment for the Church and for this country. For further reading and information: President George W. Bush, "State of the Union," White House Office of the Press Secretary, 28 January 2003. Joe Loconte, God, Government, and the Good Samaritan: The Promise and Peril of the President's Faith-Based Initiative (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, October 2001). Marvin Olasky, Compassionate Conservatism (Free Press, 2000). BreakPoint Commentary No. 020723, "Missing an Opportunity: AIDS and Christianity." Robert George, "Can Preemptive Military Action in Iraq Be Justified?", BreakPoint WorldView, November 2002. Peggy Noonan, "The Right Man," Wall Street Journal, 30 January 2003. David Brooks, "A Speech as Autobiography," Daily Standard, 29 January 2003. Victor Davis Hanson, "Revolutionary: The President and His Elements," National Review Online, 29 January 2003. Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., "The Rebirth of Statesmanship," Beverly LaHaye Institute, 29 January 2003. Learn more about cloning and biotech issues at the Council for Biotechnology Policy's website, and about criminal justice and justice reform at Justice Fellowship's website. The BreakPoint "Culture of Life" packet includes the Family Research Council booklet, "Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life," and a "BreakPoint This Week" CD interview with William Saunders of Family Research Council in which he discusses what citizens can do to make a difference for life.  


Chuck Colson


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