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Author Topic: Did George HW Bush say that atheists should not be considered citizens?
BooRadley
The Red and the Green Stamps


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http://www.skeptictank.org/gbush.htm

I've seen that referenced several times. In a short excerpt, it's alleged that he said, "No, I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

Anyone know of the legitimacy of this claim?

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Rebochan the Retail Reindeer
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This one's been bugging me too. So I ran a Google on it. So far, all I'm coming up with are tons of atheist websites quoting it. And we all know how reliable slanted websites can be [Roll Eyes]

For history, most of them place the remark being made on August 27th, 1988 at O'Hare airport, in response to a question from a reporter.

http://www.cs.caltech.edu/~adam/QUOTES/bush

quote:
President Bush made the comments during a campaign stop on August 27, 1988
at O'Hare airport. He spoke with Robert Sherman, chief spokesman for
American Atheists:
RS: "Mr. President, what will you do to win the votes of Americans
who are Atheists?"
GB: "I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in
God is pretty important to me."
RS: "Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of
Americans who are atheists?"
GB: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens,
nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under
God."

That's all I can give, and it's not so much confirmation as the fact that it's all over the atheist web community.

--------------------
"One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings." -- Diogenes

"Vote Republican! We won't burn you at the stake for your religious beliefs or slaughter your family and steal your land." -- Ramblin' Dave

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Dr. Winston O'Boogie
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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Book that chow!

--------------------
"The large print givith, and the small print taketh away" -- Tom Waits, Step Right Up

"The only difference between me and a madman is that I am not mad." -- Salvador Dali

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ULGuy
The Red and the Green Stamps


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The alt.atheism faq mentions this exchange.

http://www.flashback.se/archive/atheism_faq.html

August 27 1988 -- Atheists not citizens quote
Quoted first-hand by Robert Sherman
Fall 1988 (vol 8, No 4, p 16) -- Free Inquiry
Must be quoting Sherman
Feb 27, 1989 -- Boulder Daily Camera
Late date suggests a reference to free inquiry

Robert Sherman (American Atheist Press) isn't unbiased, but there's no reason to believe he was lying. It should be possible to check these references. They would at least prove that this isn't some kind of late vintage legend. Either Mr. Sherman is lying or the exchange took place.

This isn't a case of Sherman's word against Bush Sr's. No one has any quote of Bush denying this quote (the man is still alive remember). According to American Atheists, they sent him letters demanding a retraction. Instead his aides sent responses saying that he was a "religious man."

It's hard to believe that Bush's aides were happy to let made up quotes apply to their leader, or that American Atheists made up the whole correspondence.

Either the quote is real or it's a large and deliberate hoax.

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Ursa Major
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
President Bush made the comments during a campaign stop on August 27, 1988
Anybody else see something wrong with this sentence?
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Goes-boooo
The Red and the Green Stamps


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President? He did go on to be elected President, so calling George the Elder Bush, President, would be proper and respectful, even when refering to an even that transpired before his term of office.
quote:
President Bush attended Yale University. -- Me
Anything wrong with that statement? Other than the obvious, of course.

Goes-"Do they have a 4th of July in England?"-hmmm

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Ursa Major
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Goes-boooo:
President? He did go on to be elected President, so calling George the Elder Bush, President, would be proper and respectful, even when refering to an even that transpired before his term of office.
quote:
President Bush attended Yale University. -- Me
Anything wrong with that statement? Other than the obvious, of course.

Goes-"Do they have a 4th of July in England?"-hmmm

How about this supposed direct quote?:

quote:
RS: "Mr. President, what will you do to win the votes of Americans
who are Atheists?"


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ULGuy
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Look at this,
http://tardis3.netfirms.com/apollo/archive/may88/may31.html

This is a BBS archive from May 1988. It is posted with no reference. The poster later says that it came from a magazine.

This post places the event in December (presumably of 1987), instead of Aug 27, 1987. The atheist FAQ I linked to earlier must have been wrong in its date of Aug 27, 1988. The following FAQ gives the more reasonable 1987 date. This is the date O'Hair used.

http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/arguments.html

That would mean the BBS poster is wrong about it happening in December, though.

Here's the BBS quote:
quote:

1: In December, Vice-President George Bush was in Chicago to announce
2:federal disaster relief for Illnois. Robert Sherman was at O'Hare airport,
3:along with many other reporters, in his capacity as Bureau Chief of American
4:Atheist Press. Here is the transcript of what happened when Mr. Sherman was
5:able to ask questions.
6: Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of Americans who are
7:atheists?
8: Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in
9:God is important to me.
10: Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism
11:of Americans who are atheists?
12: Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as
13:citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation
14:under God.
15: Sherman: Do you support, as a sound constitutional principle, the
16:separation of state and church?
17: Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just
18:not very high on atheists.

Also, here is a link to a discussion of the issue on Rob[ert] Sherman's web site.

http://www.robsherman.com/information/liberalnews/2002/0303.htm

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BooRadley
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by ULGuy:
http://www.robsherman.com/information/liberalnews/2002/0303.htm[/QB]

Outstanding. Thank you. I'd still like the good folks at Snopes to finish the matter off, but the question that was left in my mind has been answered to my nitpicking satisfaction.

At least I know what the man says he said. I'm kind of ashamed that I didn't find that myself.

Quite, actually.

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