LONDON (BP)–In an answer likely to upset evangelicals and other members of his Christian base, President Bush said Nov. 20 that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Speaking at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush was asked his thoughts on how the war on terrorism and his promotion of freedom intersects with his Christian faith.
“I do say that freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every person,” Bush answered. “I also condition it by saying freedom is not America’s gift to the world. It’s much greater than that, of course. And I believe we worship the same God.”
The answer was in response to a question specifically asking him how he reacts to those who say the god of Islam is not the God of Christianity.
“Mr. President, when you talk about peace in the Middle East, you’ve often said that freedom is granted by the Almighty,” the reporter asked. “Some people who share your beliefs don’t believe that Muslims worship the same Almighty. I wonder about your views on that and Mr. Prime Minister’s, as a man also of faith, I’d like to get your reaction to that.”
Blair avoided the Christianity-Islam question and instead gave a general answer about freedom.
“I believe that if people are given the chance to have freedom, whatever part of the world they’re in, whatever religion they practice, whatever faith they have, if they’re given the chance to have freedom, they welcome it,” Blair said.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Commission, said that while he respects Bush he believes the president is wrong.
“Like many other Americans I applaud the president as a man of deep religious faith who attempts to bring that faith conviction to bear on public policy issues,” Land told Baptist Press. “However, we should always remember that he is Commander-in-Chief, not theologian-in-chief. And when he says that he believes that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, he is simply mistaken.”
Scripture “is clear” on the issue, Land added.
“There is one God and His name is Jehovah and His only begotten Son is Jesus Christ of the seed of Abraham and Isaac, whose mother was the Jewess virgin, Mary. Jesus our Savior has made it clear that we must know His Father through faith in Him and Him alone.”
Bush was not asked his thoughts on the Massachusetts court ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage” in the state.