WASHINGTON – President Bush's religious faith is "mainstream America" and no different from previous presidents, the director of his Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives said Friday.
"The president's faith has been misunderstood," said the White House aide, Jim Towey. "I don't see him as any different from his predecessors, both Democrats and Republicans." Towey cited Democrats Jimmy Carter (search) and Franklin Roosevelt (search).
"There's a double standard in the way these matters are covered," said Towey, a Roman Catholic and onetime aide to the late Demsses."
That theme was echoed by another speaker, the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell (search) of Houston, a Bush spiritual adviser and the pastor of the largest congregation in the president's denomination, the United Methodist Church.
"He does not believe God told him to run, or told him he would win, or that God told him to drop any bombs anywhere in the world. That's not his theology, his philosophy, his ethos," Caldwell said.
Towey defended the propriety of the Bush administration's funding of religious agencies involved in social work.
The president seeks to "level the playing field" and end discrimination that has barred religious agencies that provide effective social programs from receiving federal funds, said Towey.
That effort aims to overcome previous "bullying of faith-based institutions to drive them out of the public square," said the director of the White House office.