January 30, 2005


25 Most Influential Evangelicals: Richard John Neuhaus (TIME, 1/30/05)

Bushism Made Catholic: When Bush met with journalists from religious publications last year, the living authority he cited most often was not a fellow Evangelical but a man he calls Father Richard, who, he explained, "helps me articulate these [religious] things." A senior Administration official confirms that Neuhaus "does have a fair amount of under-the-radar influence" on such policies as abortion, stem-cell research, cloning and the defense-of-marriage amendment.

Neuhaus, 68, is well-prepared for that role. As founder of the religion-and-policy journal First Things, he has for years articulated toughly conservative yet nuanced positions on a wide range of civic issues. A Lutheran turned Catholic priest, he can translate conservative Protestant arguments couched tightly in Scripture into Catholicism's broader language of moral reasoning, more accessible to a general public that does not regard chapter and verse as final proof.

It just wouldn't be at all surprising if both Tony Blair and George W. Bush become Catholics.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 30, 2005 10:54 PM

I am covering all bets on that line.

Shall we set a time limit? 10 years?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 31, 2005 12:57 AM

It would be astonishing if George Bush became Catholic.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 31, 2005 7:47 AM


This one's not actually fair since Blair has already made pretty clear he's converting.


Is there a Catholic Church in Crawford?

Posted by: oj at January 31, 2005 7:57 AM

Bush has always been a Catholic. Almost all so-called Protestants are Catholics, i.e. Athanasian Christians, but they don't know it.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 31, 2005 8:25 AM

Bush is a lot more Catholic than Kerry.

Posted by: jdkelly at January 31, 2005 9:02 AM

Can anyone really see GWB genuflecting and kissing the ring of the Pope? I CAN'T!

Posted by: Phil at January 31, 2005 9:29 AM

OJ: No, there isn't. The closest Catholic church to the ranch is probably St. Eugene's in McGregor, which is a little less than 20 miles away.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 31, 2005 9:30 AM

Phil - I can testify that it's perfectly possible to be a lifelong Catholic without kissing the Pope's ring.

Posted by: pj at January 31, 2005 10:40 AM


Tony Blair did.

Posted by: oj at January 31, 2005 10:51 AM


That's a ten minute ride in Texas with the Secret Service driving.

Posted by: oj at January 31, 2005 10:53 AM

"a fair amount of under-the-radar influence" is the understatement of the year. The religous leader Bush talks to most frequently is Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the Methodist minister who has given the benediction at both Bush inaugrals. Good authority has it that Neuhaus is close behind. Bush is said to be very interested in Catholic social theory; Methodism has a strong "do good" core, but it is more an impulse than a grounded part of faith.

Regardless of what you think about Bush's intellect, he is very well grounded in religion, takes ideas and ideals seriously, and reads works that are much heavier than the usual religous best sellers. Much has been made of his reading Sharansky's current book
"The Case for Democracy." Michael Novak's " The Universal Hunger for Liberty" has also been seen around the speech writing shop, and the odds are that Bush has read it. You can't get any more Catholic than Novak.

Blair has denied eyewitness reports that he has taken comunion in a Catholic parish. (Apparently, he pledged not to convert while PM.) Every news report I have read in the British press that touches on the issue at all seems to assume that he will publicly convert after he leaves office. Will Bush ever convert? Odds are probsably against it, but not overwhelmingly so.

Posted by: Dan at January 31, 2005 10:54 AM

More on Blair's Catholicism here:


Posted by: oj at January 31, 2005 11:05 AM

Isn't Jeb a Catholic?

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at January 31, 2005 8:21 PM


Posted by: oj at January 31, 2005 8:29 PM