And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.
 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.
It is almost certain that Bush the elder never said this. The alleged quote appears to have come from a man named Robert Sherman, who was probably a writer for something called the "American Atheist Journal." (Even this is hard to pin down; see below.) He claims Bush said it when Sherman accosted him somehow at O'Hare Airport in 1987. (Exactly under what circumstances is also up for debate.)
The alleged quote suffers from one of the biggest hallmarks of an urban legend: Many of the places that have published the remark claim it happened in a number of different settings at a number of different times. Just while searching now for the name of the guy that really started the rumor, the few sites I waded through respectively claimed he said it in 1992, or 1988; that it happened during a big news conference, or that Sherman accosted him one-on-one (rather hard to believe, for a sitting VP); that Sherman owned the American Atheist News instead of merely writing for it, or it was the "American Atheist Journal" instead; that Bush was in Chicago to announce some sort of disaster relief funding, or that it was merely a campaign stop; and on and on.
Simply put, it's the word of one guy, an activist with a major grudge: He was also suing in federal court over some alleged Christianity his public school had forced upon his son, and spent much of the next several years continually baiting various members of the Bush Administration and Congress over all sorts of supposed government affronts to atheism. It also begs the question: Since a vague majority of the sites seem to agree this happened during an actual press conference, why did no other member of the news media hear Bush say anything of the sort? This story would absolutely have garnered massive major national media attention if the sitting Vice President of the United States had ever said anything in public along the lines of "I don't think THOSE PEOPLE are citizens." No such coverage ever occurred. There are no audio or video tapes of Bush saying it, despite the fact that every public utterance made by the president and vice-president is always taped by the media.
In other words, it's bullshit.
Not that this has anything to do with Dubya anyway. Holding a son responsible for the statements and actions of his father is something that generally only occurs in - dare I say it - repressive ultrareligious societies. Atheists are the last ones that ought to be trodding this path.posted by aaron at 2:14 AM on October 12, 2001
Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience...without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure...If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under. -Ronald Reagan, 1984
George W. Bush is a Methodist. They are hardly fundamentalists. I'm also not sure exactly how Bush or OBL were living "on someone else's dime." It's their money.posted by aaron at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2001
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