Bush speaks to Southern Baptists, reiterates stances on life issues, same-sex 'marriage'

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--President Bush spoke directly to Southern Baptists June 15, upholding a "culture of life" and the sanctity of marriage.

Bush, speaking live from the White House via satellite, also addressed issues relating to faith-based organizations, the judicial system and the war on terror.

The president told messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis he and his wife are thankful for their prayers, which he has felt "at crucial hours."

The president said he will keep working to build a culture of life in America, adding to the progress he has made by signing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act and the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

"Common sense and conscience tell us that when an expectant mother is killed, two lives are ended, and the criminal should answer for both crimes," he said in his 12-minute speech.

Also, Bush signed a law last November to end the practice of partial-birth abortion.

"This law is not only valid and constitutional, it is compassionate and urgently needed, and my administration will fight to uphold it," he said.

Bush said his administration also will continue its support for crisis pregnancy centers, incentives for adoption and parental notification laws.

"I propose to double federal funding for abstinence programs in schools and community-based programs," Bush told the standing-room-only crowd. "And I will work with Congress to pass a comprehensive and effective ban on human cloning. Life is a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man."

The president then said his administration is defending the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who seek to redefine marriage.

"The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. And government, by strengthening and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. So I am calling for funding for healthy marriage programs, and I support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as a union of a man and a woman," he said to messengers' applause.

Bush said he also will continue working to defend the liberty of faith-based organizations, which have the right to provide publicly funded social services just like any other group. He said he has called on Congress to codify his faith-based initiative into law "so that people of faith can know government will never discriminate against them again."

Turning to the judicial system, Bush noted that some senators are resorting to unprecedented tactics to block votes on his judicial nominees, and he urged them to stop.

"Every nominee deserves a fair hearing and a timely vote on the Senate floor. It is time for those senators to stop playing politics with American justice," he said.

Speaking of the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush again said freedom is not America's gift to the world but is Almighty God's gift to every man and woman who lives in this world.

"In Afghanistan and Iraq, we will finish the job," Bush said, thanking Southern Baptists for their strong support of the war.

In closing, Bush offered hope in the future of America.

"These years have brought trials we did not ask for and challenges we never expected to face," he said. "We have worked together, and we are rising to meet the duties of our time. Now we look forward with confidence and faith toward greater security and wider prosperity and a stronger culture of life. We pray always for God's guidance and strength in our lives and for this great nation."

Just before Bush spoke, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson led the messengers in prayer for the president and the nation, asking God to give him "wisdom beyond Solomon."

SBC President Jack Graham, speaking to the Executive Committee June 14, said Southern Baptists are not looking to endorse candidates, but instead to have candidates endorse Southern Baptist values.

"One of the reasons we loved Ronald Reagan so much is because he endorsed so many of our values and helped us in our country and our culture," Graham said. "That's the way I feel about any candidate, whether it's this president or any other president. We're seeking that candidate to endorse us. ... We're thankful that George W. Bush has endorsed many of the values that we hold dear."

Bush has now addressed the Southern Baptist Convention three times. In 2002, he spoke via satellite, and in 2003 he sent a taped message.


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