George W. Bush (left) and Glenn Plummer, chairman of the National
Religious Broadcasters, greet an enthusiastic crowd before Bush s speech
to the group during their annual convention at the Gaylord Opryland
Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. A UMNS photo by Mike
DuBose. Photo number 03-51, Accompanies UMNS #0XX, 2/11/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
George W. Bush tells participants at the National Religious
Broadcasters convention that Saddam Hussein must be stopped to ensure
peace for future generations. President Bush spoke to thousands of
religious broadcasters attending their annual convention at the Gaylord
Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. A UMNS photo
by Mike DuBose. Photo number 03-50, Accompanies UMNS #0XX, 2/11/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - Sounding at times like a
preacher behind a pulpit, President George W. Bush urged participants at
the National Religious Broadcasters' convention "to work hard to break
down the barriers that have divided the children of God for too long."
in the end, it was the chief commanding officer of the United States
who told the gathering that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein must be
stopped to ensure peace for future generations.
spoke Feb. 10 to thousands of religious broadcasters attending their
annual convention in Nashville. In his 40-minute speech, he honored
volunteers who mentor disadvantaged children, spoke about rallying the
"armies of compassion" by supporting faith-based initiatives and ended
with strong words about a looming war with Iraq.
His remarks were
often interrupted by long and loud applause, shouts of appreciation and
standing ovations from the crowd. Gospel singer Michael W. Smith set
the tone by opening with the song "Great is Thy Faithfulness."
"This man (President Bush) has a heart for God," Smith said. "I will be the opening act for the president any day."
tone turned more patriotic with the showing of Smith's video "There She
Stands," written about the American flag, followed by a rousing melody
by singer Sara Paulson.
The audience stood and applauded for several minutes once Bush stepped onto the platform.
too long, some in government thought there was no room for faith-based
groups to provide social services," Bush said. "I have a different point
of view. I believe government should welcome faith-based groups as
allies in the great work of renewing America."
He said he has
issued an executive order banning discrimination against faith-based
charities, and he continues to work with Congress to enact faith-based
legislation. He added that faith-based offices have been created in key
Cabinet departments to ensure equal treatment and fair access to
"Governments can and should support effective
social services provided by religious people, so long as they work and
as long as those services go to anyone in need, regardless of their
faith," said the president, a United Methodist. "And when government
gives that support, it is equally important that faith-based
institutions should not be forced to change their character or
compromise their prophetic role.
"What I'm saying is, the days of discriminating against religious groups just because they're religious are coming to an end."
are being held across the country to help faith-based groups understand
how to qualify for government grants, he added.
Bush also told
the group he wants Congress to address the issues of disadvantaged
children and people addicted to drugs and alcohol.
Congress to support a mentoring proposal which will bring caring adults
into the lives of more than a million children, disadvantaged children,
including the children whose mom or dad may be in prison. There's no
question in my mind that if this nation puts their mind to it, we can
surround those little ones with love and provide a better hope for them.
believe that we can take an approach that focuses on the addict, give
that person a voucher to be redeemed at any program that he or she
chooses - especially those programs that have got the capacity to change
heart and, therefore, change habit."
Bush called on religious
broadcasters to appeal to their audiences to bring wealthy churches
together with low-income congregations to serve the poor and needy.
been said that 11 a.m. on Sunday is the most segregated hour in
America," he said. "We all have a responsibility to break down the
barriers that divide us. In Scripture, God commands us to reach out to
those who are different, to reconcile with each other, to lay down our
lives in service to others.
"So today I ask you to challenge your
listeners to love somebody just like they'd like to be loved
themselves; to remind them that one person can make a difference in
somebody's life," he said.
Turning from words of compassion and
hope, Bush used the last moments of his speech to talk about the threat
to peace from "an outlaw regime in Iraq that hates our country."
attitude is that we owe it to future generations of Americans and
citizens in freedom-loving countries to see to it that Mr. Saddam
Hussein is disarmed," he said.
Bush has been urging the United
Nations to get tough with Iraq, charging that Saddam has violated U.N.
orders to account for and destroy his weapons of mass destruction.
take my responsibilities incredibly seriously about the commitment of
troops," Bush said. "But should we need to use troops, for the sake of
future generations of Americans, American troops will act in the
honorable traditions of our military and in the highest moral traditions
of our country.
"As I said in my State of the Union, liberty is
not America's gift to the world. Liberty is God's gift to every human
being in the world.
"America has great challenges; challenges at
home and challenges abroad. We're called to extend the promise of this
country into the lives of every citizen who lives here. We're called to
defend our nation and to lead the world to peace, and we will meet both
challenges with courage and with confidence."
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*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.