In his usual way, JCecil3 raises some interesting questions about the Bush presidency. I boil his central thesis down to the question in the title--Is Bush a Christian President?
My answer to this is simple. That is between Mr. Bush and God. It is presumptuous of me to do any other. I may take Mr. Bush at his word and assume that he is a good, Church-going believer.
Does his time in office make this a substantive reality in the world today? That is, if one had to go on evidence rather than assertion, would there be enough evidence to convict Bush on a trial for his Christianity? Not that I've seen. Everything in Washington is Politics as usual. There's a bit more of the relgious window-dressing and talking than there had been for a few words. Is it meaningful? Has it changed society for the better?
Honestly, not that I've seen. I don't see any surge forward in people loving one another as Christ commanded. I don't see the dawning age of new solidarity. I don't even see increased Church attendance as a result of the president's seeming endorsement of religion.
If Bush is a Christian President, it is a private matter that finds very little room for substantive expression in action. Yes, there may be prayer meetings in the White House and a nearly constant invocation of the name of God and the battle of Good and Evil. But the harsh reality is, the president is the president. He does as all have done before him if with a good deal less aplomb and a great deal more alienation. (Like any choice at the present time would have been better?)
Bush no more stands for Christianity than does Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, or the President of the Phillippines. Nor is he meant to--and those who would like to see him so do a grave injustice both to the office of president and to the Christian faith. There is a very, very good reason for "separation of Church and State" in the sense of not campaigning on your Chrisitianity--you besmirch the faith and often, assuming you live it, you will end up alienating everyone any way--nothing will get done.
I do not think religion should ever stay out of the public square--the issues it raises and the causes that it supports need to be constantly brought before the eyes of the world. But I do think it poor policy to make faith an issue or mainstay of your reign or rule. Inevitably either the reign will be short and poorly received, or Christianity itself will get another black eye. (Think of His Most Christian Majesty Vlad Tepes--as one among many sterling examples.) The proper role of Christianity is always contra mundum, we are in the world, but not of it. If Christianity loses its power to confront and provoke by being subsumed in the mainstream battle of political discourse, it will have lost much of its meaning. Christianity is a sign of contradiction and a constant call to improve, not a seal of approval or an endorsement.