Colorado Springs, Colo. -- Former President George W. Bush acknowledges in an exclusive interview airing today and Wednesday on Focus on the Family that the strident tone of some on the political right is not conducive to passing pro-family public policy.
Bush, in a conversation with Focus President Jim Daly about his new memoir "Decision Points," says that "there are people throughout the political spectrum who like to demonize somebody they don't agree with."
"I don't believe you can lead by demonizing somebody. I believe you lead by convincing somebody," he says. "And in my case, I was unable to convince (some people) on different issues. I understood that. And I hope that people who read the book at least come to an understanding as to why I made the decisions that I did."
Daly's interview with Bush, the first the 43rd president has granted to Christian media, covers a wide variety of topics, including the death of his sister Robin when he was 7; his love affair with his wife, Laura; his feelings in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks; his relationship with his parents and daughters; the emotion of his meetings with the loved ones of armed forces members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; and how to return civility to the public square.
Bush also talks in detail about his struggles with alcohol and the growth of his Christian faith, saying it was only through "the intervention of the Almighty" -- prompted by a heart-to-heart with the Rev. Billy Graham -- that he was able to give up drinking. What he discovered, he said, is that "religion is not a course in self-improvement."
"Religion is a surrender," he explains. "You allow the living God into your life by surrendering to the living God. And then you improve to please God, not please yourself.
"The acceptance of Christ is incredibly difficult," he adds, "because you got an ego that gets in the way. The acceptance of Christ is a walk, a journey. And, in my case, it required discipline and focus."
Bush goes on to explain that the best Scripture for a politician to keep in mind is Matthew 7:3 -- "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
"I worry about people who basically say, 'I'm better than you because I'm religious.' To me, (that's) not religion," he says. "It's the opposite, frankly, of Christianity, which basically says, 'I'm not better than anybody.' In other words, I'm a sinner, and I accept that and therefore accept Christ to help me grow."
Among the many policies the former president discusses with Daly is his support of the sanctity of human life. On that subject, in particular, he says, conservatives must spend more energy persuading those who disagree that the pro-life position is best for the country.
"I think the role of a leader is to understand there are differences on the issue of promoting a culture of life," he says. "In other words, (we need to) convince people that we're a more noble society if we honor life, without somebody castigating somebody based upon a differing opinion."
Part I of the Bush broadcast is now available at FocusOnTheFamily.com -- and Part II will be available Wednesday. The website also has exclusive content not included in the broadcasts -- covering such subjects as the president's work to end the scourge of AIDS in Africa and his views on the real meaning of the separation of church and state.
Focus on the Family Vice President of Communications Gary Schneeberger was present during the broadcast taping at President Bush’s office in Dallas and is available for interviews about what went on behind the scenes. To schedule an interview with Schneeberger, please contact Devon Williams at 719-322-5484 firstname.lastname@example.org.