'This Week' Transcript: Cardinal Timothy Dolan

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yet it seems, Dr. Butts, that that is the first thing lost, that kind of civility, in the heat of a political campaign or any day you get online and see all the hateful political comments.

BUTTS: Well, that's often because people do not practice what they preach. And it is difficult to translate your religious belief into public policy. I think what you have to do and one of the things I'm eager to do with Ms. Jacoby, for instance, is to apply ideas, our thoughts, our ideologies, in the marketplace. I mean, the great apostle Paul went to Mars Hill, and he argued there for the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he won people to his side. But then you hear the arguments for the unknown god or the god that is denied or the god that is rejected or not believed. But there are things that come out of this discussion that are helpful to both.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you feel the need to proselytize?

JACOBY: The need to proselytize in the sense that I want to convert people to atheism? No. The mission, the mission, if you could call it that, of the atheist is not to convert people. It is to put forward our ideas in the public square, and we have had some success. And I'm not talking only recently, but over 100 years, to talk about the importance of science and reason in public policy. And there are many religious people who believe in that, but there are many religious people who are opposed to fact and evidence based thinking.

And here is the point about the problem with religion and politics. It's not that religious groups shouldn't have an active role in presenting their viewpoints, as we all must. It's that all public policy has to have a rationale that goes beyond the religious. Because saying, for example, gay marriage is wrong because my god tells me so, or a certain kind of immigration policy is wrong because my god tells me so, or as was in the past, slavery is right because the Bible upholds slavery. And as we well know, religion was just as much on the side of slavery in America as other -- there is no such thing as religion. There are only certain kinds of religions, and how often it is when people say, well, you -- this needs to be in public policy because God says so. How much God sounds like our own voice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: There's also the problem of religious extremism, and of course you have to confront that in the Islamic world so often. One of the things that Jim writes is that it's important to -- the best way to fight that is by undermining it from the inside, not trying to smash it.

ASLAN: That's right. And this goes back to the conversation that we've been having. We have to recognize that religion is often more a matter of identity than it is a matter of beliefs and practices. Certainly, beliefs and practices and important, but it's about who you are as a human being, how you see yourself in an indeterminate world, your relationship to God.

I'll give you an example. The latest Pew poll says seven out of 10 Americans identify as Christian. Now, think about this for a moment, gentlemen and ladies. Does that mean seven out of 10 Americans go to church on Sunday, or that seven out of 10 Americans read the Bible regularly, or that seven out of 10 Americans can tell you anything about Jesus except that he was born in a manger and died on a cross? No. The vast majority of that seven out of 10 is actually making a statement of identity, and as a statement of identity, it encompasses your politics, your economic views, your social views, your world views. It's not just about what you believe, it's how you understand the world around you. So of course religion is going to have a role in politics in the world. And yes, it's problematic, as Susan says, because religion is often about absolutes, and politics is about compromise, or at least it's supposed to be about compromise. But what Jim was saying is absolutely correct. So how do we then counteract the negative effects of religion? Not by excising it from society, not by removing it from politics, but by making sure that those voices of moderation, those voices of pluralism, those voices that are dedicated to what America stands for rise above the voices of extremists.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And embedded in, a Christian value, Jim, humility.

WALLIS: In fact, the problem with religion is a quote from Lincoln that I put right on the cover of the book. He says, "My concern is not whether God is on our side. My greatest concern is to be on God's side." And that flips the question, and that leads us to that kind of humility. To ask how we can change our views, our values, our politics, our ideology. How do you move past the vitriol, the hatred in our median (ph) politics, and find what 's right and what works, on immigration, on gun violence, on so many issues. If we can come together and get beyond left, (inaudible) right, go deeper. What does that mean?

STEPHANOPOULOS: We want to go deeper. I wish we had more time to do it today, but I want to have you all back. It's a fascinating conversation. Happy Easter to all of you.

ERIC DRAPER: My job was not to be a distraction. My job was to purely document. And it was a very unique role // to have that much access to the President, // and not to be a participant in the meetings, but to be an observer. // I have a chapter on family, which included lots of images of President Bush with his father // Whenever he and his dad were together // it was magical to me. // 9/11 was just off the charts. It was a roller coaster of emotion. // And I knew that I had a job to do that day, to focus on capturing those moments. // And I used the camera as a distraction. // Well, one day in the Oval Office - I believe this was in 2002 - a box arrived, and it was a gift. // He opens the box, and he pulls out this boxing robe. // And on the back, it had his name "George W. Bush." So of course, he tries it on. And he's looking around for someone to show it to, and so in that image, he's opening the Oval Office door looking through the hallway, just to see if anyone's walking around, because he really wanted to show it off. // The president would visit injured troops a lot. // In this visit, he just presented the soldier who was injured in Afghanistan with the Purple Heart, and he reached over to kiss his forehead. And this really illustrates the compassion that the president had -- has, still has -- for the troops that have given the ultimate sacrifice. // And in this image // the late Coretta Scott King and her children, and she's holding the plans, at the time, for the MLK memorial. // Coretta Scott King asked the president, "Can you pray with us?" And the president said, "Of course." And they joined hands. // Those are the moments that - that I love capturing: the surprise, unscripted moments.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...