"My faith plays a big part in my life. And my faith is very personal. I pray for strength. I pray for wisdom. I pray for our troops in harm’s way. I never want to impose my religion on anybody else. But when I make a decision, I stand on principle, and the principles derive from who I am."
- George W. Bush
"For the President of the United States and all civil authorities, for our Armed Forces everywhere, that He will aid them and grant them victory over every enemy and adversary, let us pray to the Lord."
The Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom
At every Divine Liturgy, Orthodox Christians throughout America pray for the President of the United States. They ask that his decisions be guided by the highest principles and informed by sound judgment. They look for the traditional values that undergird this ancient faith community to find support and encouragement from our country’s leaders. They seek spiritual protection for the members of our armed forces who daily risk their lives for America and American values.
President Bush is grateful for the prayers of Orthodox Christians in America, as he is for those of all Americans of whatever faith community to which they may belong. "I love the fact that people pray for me and my family all around the country," said the President in his last debate with Senator Kerry. "Somebody asked me one time, ‘Well how do you know?’ I said, ‘I just feel it.’"
An Historic American Faith Community
The millions of Orthodox Christians in America trace their origins to many lands in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
They speak many languages and are racially diverse. But President Bush commends what unites them in their diversity:
their dedication to America and their faithfulness to the values that connect them, whatever their ethnicity:
Antiochian, Russian, Georgian, Greek, Syrian, Carpatho-Russian, Serbian, Armenian, Ukrainian, Ethiopian, Romanian,
Bulgarian, Coptic (Egyptian), Alaskan Native, Albanian, Lebanese, Macedonian, or the increasing numbers of
Americans who practice this ancient faith but do not belong to any of the traditional Orthodox ethnic groups.
While Orthodox Christianity is not the most numerous or most well-known religion in America, it has been part of our national fabric far longer than most of our fellow-citizens might realize. The first Orthodox Greeks arrived in Florida before the American Revolution. Orthodox Christian missionaries accompanied the founding of Russia’s Alaskan colony in the late 18th century. The first multi-ethnic Orthodox Church in the continental United States was established in New Orleans in 1864 by Greek merchants; its multi-ethnic congregation included Greeks, Slavs, and Arabs, and services were held in Greek, Slavonic, and English. Between 1868-1892, similar multi-ethnic and multi-lingual parishes were founded by diplomatic personnel, foreign businessmen, and small numbers of Orthodox immigrants in San Francisco (1868), New York (1870-1883), Chicago (1888), Portland, Oregon (1890), Galveston (ca 1890), and Seattle (1892)1. In short, as America grew into a great continental power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, accelerating numbers of Orthodox Christian immigrants and their descendants helped enrich their adopted country, working in mines and factories, founding businesses, raising families, and fighting in all of America’s wars.
U.S. Partnership with Orthodox Nations
Even today, whether they are new immigrants or American whose forebears arrived generations ago, many American Orthodox Christians maintain family ties to the lands of their ancestors. They support American policies that encourage a constructive and mutually beneficial relationships between the United States and the countries where the Orthodox Christian faith prevails in the vast area spanning the distance between the Adriatic Sea and the Bering Strait, and from the White Sea to the sources of the Nile. During the next four years, President Bush is committed to building upon the positive accomplishments of his first term with all the countries in this region:
Orthodox Christian Family and Community Values
- Greater bilateral cooperation in our common fight against global terrorism.
- Fighting religious persecution.
- Combating trafficking in persons. This is of special concern in Orthodox Christian countries of Eastern Europe, where women and girls are vulnerable to victimization by organized crime elements.
- Promoting economic development and commerce. This is especially vital to the many Orthodox lands so recently emerging from communist tyranny.
- Seeking equitable and lasting solutions to international crises and conflicts, such as those that continue to afflict the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus.
Orthodox Christians are no less concerned about the values that will be reflected in America’s domestic policies during the next four years. The traditional values of work and family achievement that have been the indispensable to Orthodox Christian success will continue to be reflected in the policies promoted by President Bush. Like President Bush, Orthodox Christians know that success comes not from the government but from private enterprise and, above all, the values of hard work and dedication that are nurtured in strong families. Likewise, Orthodox Christians have a proud tradition of voluntary action centered around their church communities and heritage organizations. Among these policies that reinforce Orthodox Christian family and community values:
Promoting a Culture of Life
- Relief from the "Marriage Penalty" in the Federal Income tax. (Senator John Kerry voted against legislation relieving this tax discrimination against families.)
- Expansion of the Child tax Credit. (Senator John Kerry voted against this family-friendly tax credit.)
- Elimination of the federal "Death Tax," ending double taxation and preserving the achievements of one generation for the next. (Senator John Kerry voted against eliminating this tax hit on American families.)
- Enactment of tax reductions and increased loan programs benefiting small business.
- Allowing Orthodox Christian charities to participate without discrimination in federal, state, and local programs through President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiative.
- Policies that encourage parents’ school choice, including religious education.
Orthodox Christians in America point to a venerable tradition of moral witness, stretching back many hundreds of years. Among these is a strong pro-life stance, which Orthodox Christians have boldly asserted in American public life, most memorably in the 1989 brief amicus curiae to the Supreme Court: "The precepts of the Orthodox Christian faith mandate the protection of innocent human life, especially that of unborn children. The Church regards abortion as murder, and as such, takes a very active role in opposing legalized abortion."2 President Bush welcomes the support of America’s Orthodox Christians in his efforts to promote a culture of life. As the most pro-life president in history, President Bush:
Safeguarding Marriage from Activist Judges
- On his first day in office, reactivated Ronald Reagan’s "Mexico City Policy," which prevents international organizations from receiving federal funds for performing or actively promoting abortion. In many Orthodox countries, abortion has contributed to demographic devastation, as noted recently by the bishops of Russia3. (Senator John Kerry has pledged that reversing the Mexico City Policy would be his first Executive Order as President.)
- Signed into law and is defending the federal ban on partial-Birth Abortion, a violent and brutal procedure that kills a child in the process of birth. (Senator John Kerry has voted at least six times against legislation to outlaw Partial-Birth Abortion.)
Supports parental notification laws, ensuring the parents know about and are involved with the abortion decisions of their minor daughters. (Senator Kerry opposes parental notification laws.)
- Signed into law the Born Alive Infants Act (which protects infants who survive an attempted abortion) Laci & Connor Peterson’s Law (also the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes injury or death of an unborn child during an attack on a pregnant woman a separate crime).
- Opposes use of tax dollars for abortion. (Senator Kerry supports public funding of abortion.)
- Opposes human cloning. (Senator Kerry voted against legislation to ban human cloning.)
- Will appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will strictly interpret the constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench. (Senator Kerry’s litmus test would only permit appointment of justices who would uphold the 1972 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide and has resulted in the deaths of over 35 million unborn American children.)
Supports federal stem cell research under strict ethical guidelines. (Senator Kerry would allow expanded use of stem cells from aborted unborn children for questionable prospects of medical benefit.)
Besides defense of innocent life, Orthodox Christian traditional values encompass the sanctity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. President Bush shares the concerns of Orthodox Christians about recent attempts to undermine the traditional definition of marriage by recognizing so-called "samesex marriages." "Marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution," as America’s Orthodox bishops have observed, "and we pray fervently that the traditional form of marriage, as an enduring and committed union only between a man and a woman, will be honored." While Senator Kerry claims he wants to leave this question "to the states," this is little more than a codeword for "let the judges do what they want," with the answer predetermined. While treating all Americans with respect and compassion, President Bush is determined to do all he can to ensure that the definition of marriage remains unchanged. In his second term, President Bush will:
George W. Bush: The Right Choice for Orthodox Christians
- Vigorously defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities in Congress in 1996. DOMA ensures that the federal government recognizes only the traditional definition of marriage, and provides limited protection to states against judicial activism. (Senator John Kerry was one of only 14 Senators who voted against DOMA.)
- Continue to urge Congress to send to the states for ratification an Amendment to the Constitution to define and protect the institution of marriage in the United States. (When the Senate voted on the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, only two Senators were absent and nonvoting: Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards.)
As Americans of all faiths go to the polls on November 2, only one candidate, George W. Bush, will address all of the concerns of America’s Orthodox Christians: support for Orthodox Christian families and communities in America, fostering a culture of life, preserving traditional marriage, and cooperation and partnership with Orthodox countries, including foreign policies to find equitable and lasting solutions in the Middle East, the Balkans, and the Caucasus. President Bush appreciates and honors the achievements of the millions of Orthodox Christian Americans as a vital part of the fabric of our great nation. He thanks Orthodox Christians for their many contributions and asks for their support.
- "Orthodox Christians in North America," http://www.oca.org/pages/orth_chri/Orthodox-Church-Introduction/North-America-1794-1994/Immigration-and-Conversion.html
- Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court of the United States by the Holy Orthodox Church: Webster v. Planned Parenthood - 1988, http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/OrthodoxAmicusBrief.shtml
- "Russian Orthodox Church Tells Putin Family Planning to Blame for Depopulation," Moscow News, October 8, 2004, http://www.mosnews.com/news/2004/10/08/abortion.shtml
- "On the Moral Crisis in our Nation," August 27, 2003, http://www.oca.org/pages/news/news.asp?id=593
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