"I did it based upon the need to protect the American people from harm," Bush said. "This was a period of time where we were deeply concerned about the security of the country, and given all the behavior of Saddam Hussein, and given the intelligence that we thought was valid at the time, and given the fact that we tried to give him a diplomatic way out, it was the right thing to do, and frankly, the world is better off without Saddam Hussein and so are the citizens of Iraq, but it was not a religious decision."
The private religious life of a president has always garnered public interest. As President-elect Obama prepares to take his place in the White House, many are wondering which church he will choose to attend in Washington, D.C.
Like his father, Bush is a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington and often attends services at Camp David. He told McFadden that he prays in the Oval Office and said that faith "has made a great difference in my life."
"There is a sense of calm in the Oval Office, where there are obviously a lot of dramatic moments and a lot of, you know, pressure, but there is calm in the Oval Office," Bush said. "People say, 'But how do you know that it's because of prayer?' And I guess the answer is because of faith is how I know -- I can't prove it for you. People, you know, say it's just a crutch. For me, it's not a crutch, for me it's the realization of a power of a universal God and recognition that the God came manifested in human and then died for sins. Now, all of this was hard for me to understand for a period of time and I am still trying to understand as best as my human mind can possibly do so. But in the understanding and in the search and in the quest, I find comfort and strength."
When asked if he thinks that he prays to the same God as those with different beliefs, Bush said, "I do."
"I do believe there is an Almighty that is broad and big enough and loving enough that can encompass a lot of people," Bush said, but he drew a distinction when it comes to those who perpetrate terror.
"I think anyone who murders to achieve their religious objective is not a religious person," he said. "They may think they're religious, and they play like they're religious, but I don't think they're religious. They are not praying to the God I pray to ... the god of peace and love."
When asked if he believes the Bible is literally true, the president said that he's "not a literalist" when it comes to reading the Bible, but rather focuses on the important lessons he believes the Bible teaches.
As for whether one can believe in the Bible and believe in evolution, Bush said he does, adding that "I happen to believe that evolution doesn't fully explain the mystery of life.
"I think that God created the Earth, created the world," he said. "I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an almighty, and I don't think it's incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution."
Last week, McFadden traveled with the president to meet participants in a Youth Focus program in North Carolina.
The program, funded by the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, pairs children of convicts with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
Bush told McFadden on the trip that he found the children to be inspiring, and called the mentors' commitment "an act of love."