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injustice, one victory at a time."
President Bush (the First)
"Atheists Are Not Citizens"
For seventeen years, people have been asking me for proof that a conversation
took place between Vice President Bush and me in which George H. W. Bush told me
that atheists should not be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as
patriotic, because this country is "One nation under God."
Copies of correspondence about that issue have now been located.
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At a news conference in Chicago on August 27, 1987 (not 1988 as has been
reported elsewhere), which I covered as a fully credentialed journalist, I asked
Vice President Bush several questions. In response to one question, Bush
said, "I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor
should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under
God." The March 3, 2002, edition of
Liberal News & Commentary contains the full story about that news
conference and my verbal exchanges with Mr. Bush.
Ever since then, people from around the country and around the world have called
or e-mailed me, saying, "Where's the proof?"
Several internet reports, such as this
one, have made reference to letters exchanged by the late Jon Garth Murray,
then-President of American Atheists, and The
White House, in February, 1989. According to those reports, Mr. Murray
strongly objected to this presidential smear of atheists and White House counsel
C. Boyden Gray replied by saying that the President is entitled to hold any view
that he wants regarding atheists. It is likely that the origin of those
internet reports was a story in either the American Atheist Magazine or one of
Being a print journalist, I didn't bother to make a tape of my conversation with
Bush because my story would only appear in writing. I had never seen nor
asked to see the letters because I was there, so I knew that the events had
actually taken place. Others, however, wanted proof. Where's a tape
or a copy of the letters, they would ask.
Today, I contacted the Bush Presidential
Library in College Station, Texas. I asked if there was any chance
that such documents could possibly exist; if they did exist, was there any
chance that the documents would be stored at the Bush Presidential
Library; if the documents did exist and were housed at the Bush Library,
what was the chance that they could find such documents amongst the millions of
items in their collection; and if they could find the documents, could I
please obtain a copy?
team of archivists went to work on the matter right away. Within a couple
of hours, they had found the documents. They are archived as Item #
CF01193-002. They'd be glad to send me a copy, but I'd have to send in an
FOI (Freedom of Information Act) request. Due to a backlog of requests, it
would take about two years for them to get the documents to me.
have begun the process of obtaining copies. In the meantime, if you're
ever in Texas, stop by the Bush Library and maybe you can see those documents