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January 27, 2001
Column #1013

HOW WONDERFUL TO HAVE A SPIRITUAL PRESIDENT

     This has been such a week of joy. As I stood with my wife and son, Adam, 500 yards  from where President George W. Bush was inaugurated as President, I could not see him. But I was uplifted by the simple eloquence of his Inaugural Address.

     He asked his supporters to reach out to those who are hurting, those who opposed him:

     ''While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise - even the justice - of our own country....Sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a continent, but not a country. We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity, our union is the serious work of leaders and citizens in every generation.''

     ''And this is my solemn pledge. I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. I know this is in our reach, because we are guided by a power larger than ourselves, who creates us equal in his image.''

     Thus, he placed his hope and the nation's hope - on the source of all hope, on God.

     The first president to speak of poverty for decades in an Inaugural, he said: ''In the quiet of American conscience, we know that deep, persistent poverty is unworthy of the nation's promise. And whatever our views on its cause, we can agree that children at risk are not at fault. Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God. They are failures of love.''

     ''Government has great responsibilities....Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government. And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer....I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the way to Jericho, we will not pass by on the other side.'' 

     We now have a President who not only uses Scripture to guide him, but to inspire us. On the morning of his Inaugural, Bush took time for his daily read-through of the Bible in a year.

     On Sunday, George Bush and 3,500 friends worshiped at an ecumenical service at the National Cathedral, with prayers from Washington's new Catholic cardinal, a rabbi, a female Episcopal bishop, a Greek Orthodox Archbishop, various Protestant pastors and singing by Michael W. Smith as well as the cathedral choir of men and boys.

     What was most moving was the sermon by Rev. Franklin Graham, substituting for his dad, Billy Graham. Like George W., Franklin lived for some years on the wild side in his youth, but has directed Samaritan's Purse, an international relief agency, for 25 years.

     He told the story of David, ''who from the time he was a small boy tending his father's flocks, inquired of the Lord what he should do, regardless of whether the decision was great or small. David did not test the political winds of his day to see which direction he should go. David's only concern was to find the will of God for his life - and THEN DO IT.'' He predicted God would bless our President and nation ''if we humble ourselves before the Almighty and seek his will - and THEN DO IT.'' 

     Graham said, ''We witnessed the entire nation coming together here in this great city to inaugurate our President and Vice President. When David was anointed King, all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron. He came to the throne after a great struggle and great controversy. King David united the country of Israel by 'inquiring of the Lord.'''

     Therefore, he urged, ''Prayer should be a daily habit for everyone - whether elected officials or private citizens; whether before or after a difficult experience, whether in victory or defeat.''

     On Monday, Bush energized a crowd of 100,000 gathered for the annual ''March For Life,'' on the 28th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, by sending a message: ''We share a great goal to work toward a day when every child is welcome in life and protected by law.'' Equally important, he reversed an Executive Order of President Clinton, and will block U.S. funds from being used by family planning groups that give abortion counseling overseas.

     On Tuesday, he submitted his first legislative initiative, an overhaul of federal education policy, requiring states to test students annually. Schools would be rewarded or punished based on results, a plan that dramatically improved reading and math scores of the poor in Texas. 

     As he said in the Inaugural: ''We will reclaim America's schools before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives.''

     Thus, Bush has moved from soaring rhetoric to action, using Scripture to guide him.

     It was a good week for America.

Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.

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