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President Bush: ‘You can’t separate your faith from your life’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Answering objections that he is too open about his Christian faith, President Bush said Aug. 12 that his faith is inseparable from the rest of his life.

In a wide-ranging interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Bush also defended his position on embryonic stem cell research and same-sex “marriage.”

King asked Bush about his faith and noted that Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Roman Catholic, received applause at his party’s convention when he said, “I don’t wear my own faith on my sleeve.”

King then asked Bush, “Does [your] faith come to the office?”

“You can’t separate your faith from your life,” Bush responded. “I make decisions on what I think is best for the country, but my faith is important to me. A lot of times my faith comes up because I thank people for their prayers — and I mean people from all religions.”

Church and state should be separate, Bush said, “but I don’t see how you can separate your faith as a person, and my faith is an important part of my life.”

Bush and First Lady Laura Bush — who appeared alongside the president — defended the administration’s policy on embryonic stem cell research. In recent weeks Kerry has criticized Bush on the issue and at times has referred to the president’s position as being a “ban” on embryonic stem cell research.

But the president and first lady noted that current laws do not ban embryonic stem research.

“To say that we have banned embryonic stem cell research is simply not the truth,” the president said. “But to say that I do care about human life is the truth.”

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research argue that embryonic stem cells may hold the key for curing a range of diseases. Others, though, oppose it because it involves the destruction of the embryo itself — a process that they consider immoral. And, they note, the other type of stem cell research, on adult stem cells, does not involve the destruction of embryos and has shown much promise. In fact, all the stem cell therapies that have resulted in cures for patients so far — approximately 40 — have been derived from adult stem cells.

In 2001 Bush announced he would allow federal funding for research on the lines of embryonic stem cells that existed at the time — in other words, those lines in which the embryo previously had been destroyed. However, he prohibited federal fund being used on future stem cell research that destroyed embryos.

At the time, it was considered somewhat of a compromise position.

“There’s hundreds of scientists now doing research based upon my decision,” Bush said Aug. 13. “What I did say was that because a stem cell is derived from the destruction of a human embryo, that there’s an ethical dilemma as well.”

He added that he has a concern about using taxpayer money on the “future destruction” of human embryos.

“[T]his country’s got to be very careful on destroying life to save life,” Bush said. “It’s a debate that needs to move forward in a very careful way.”

Bush noted that he also opposes therapeutic human cloning, which Kerry supports. Therapeutic human cloning involves cloning an embryo in order to harvest its stem cells, thus destroying the cloned embryo.

“I think that leads down a slippery slope for … designer clones,” Bush said. “It’s a classic discussion between ethics and science.”

Laura Bush has been outspoken in recent weeks in defense of her husband’s position on embryonic stem cell research. Her position has carried weight because her father died from Alzheimer’s. Some Bush critics, such as Ron Reagan, the late President Ronald Reagan’s son, have called on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. President Reagan also died from Alzheimer’s.

“I have been speaking out, because there is not a ban on stem cell research, and that seems to be the buzzword now,” Laura Bush said. “… The fact is that the president is the … only president who has authorized any research on embryonic stem cells, and several countries have a complete ban on embryonic stem cell research.

“… [F]rom what you hear or what you read you’d think that there is a cure for Alzheimer’s just around the corner,” she said. “… [Embryonic stem cell research supporters] are hopeful, but it’s very, very preliminary. There is adult stem cell research, which is very promising, but there is no ban on stem cell research.”

Answering a question from King, Bush also reiterated his support for a constitutional marriage amendment.

“I’m worried that the laws on the books that … define marriage as between a man and a woman will be ruled unconstitutional, and [that] judges will make the decision as to the definition of marriage,” the president said. “And I think it’s too important an issue for judges to make that decision, and I think one way to guarantee that traditional marriage is defined as between a man and a woman is through the constitutional process.”

The constitutional amendment process, Bush said, ensures that the people are involved. An amendment requires the passage of two-thirds of both the House and Senate and ratification by three-fourths of the states.

“[I]t will get states involved,” Bush said. “The people ought to be involved in this decision, so that’s why I took the stand I took.”

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  • Michael Foust