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Bush Steps Away From Christian Fundamentalists’ Comments on Islam

Bush’s comments came yesterday afternoon, on the same day that EthicsDaily.com carried an editorial praising the president for observing Ramadan with a White House dinner last week and urging the president to distance himself from Christian fundamentalists.

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“Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans,” Bush told reporters in a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, according to Associated Press.
“Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others,” Bush said. “Ours is a country based on tolerance, Mr. Secretary General, and we respect the faith and we welcome people of all faiths in America. And we’re not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.”
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP that the president felt he needed to repudiate remarks by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
A month ago, Falwell called the prophet Muhammad “a terrorist” on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” sparking widespread protests and a riot in Bombay, India, which resulted in the deaths of five people.
Pat Robertson told viewers on his Christian Broadcasting Network on Monday that “I wish the Jews in America would wake up, open their eyes and read what is being said about them. This is worse than the Nazis.”
“Adolf Hitler was bad, but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse,” Robertson said, according to AP.
The day before, during a Sunday service, televangelist Jimmy Swaggart praised Southern Baptist Convention leader Jerry Vines for calling Muhammad a pedophile.
“I like our President, but he’s dead wrong when he says Islam or the Quran is a book of love and peace,” Swaggart said (roughly 39 minutes into the broadcast). “Mr. President, that has got to be the most asinine, idiotic, ridiculous, utterly ludicrous statement that I’ve ever heard in my life.”
After complaining about a personal experience with airport security, Swaggart said, “What they ought to be looking for is people with a diaper on their head and a fan belt around their waist.”
Swaggart said, “We ought to take every single Muslim student in every college in this nation and ship them back to where they came from.”
Bush’s comments came yesterday afternoon, on the same day that EthicsDaily.com carried an editorial praising the president for observing Ramadan with a White House dinner last week and urging the president to distance himself from Christian fundamentalists.
Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, said Bush “modeled a moral inclusiveness badly missing among his supporting Christian fundamentalist clerics.”  
“Some of us have watched in puzzlement about when President Bush would finally find the courageous voice to say that the words of the Christian fundamentalist clerics were not his words,” Parham wrote. “The president’s silence or slowness to speak about the hatefulness of some of his closest political allies drains some of the value of his good statements about Islam.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also called on President Bush yesterday to repudiate anti-Islamic rhetoric.
“It is time for the president to step up to the plate on the issue of Islamophobia in America. Merely repeating the mantra that Islam is a ‘religion of peace’ does little to stem the rising tide of anti-Muslim hate or to mitigate the negative impact that hate has on Muslim families,” said CAIR board chairman Omar Ahmad.