Bush on Religion and God

ByABC News
October 24, 2004, 4:35 PM

Oct. 26, 2004 -- -- While the president often refers to God during public addresses to his supporters, Bush's religious convictions don't always seem to reflect those of the conservative Christians who make up his political base.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson, Bush said he believes that both Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

"I think we do. We have different routes of getting to the Almighty," Bush said. "But I want you to understand, I want your listeners to understand, I don't get to get decide who goes to heaven. The Almighty God decides who goes to heaven and I am on my personal walk," he said.

When it comes to Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who both claim to be devout Muslims, Bush says he believes they are misguided.

"I think they pray to a false God, otherwise they wouldn't be killing like they have been."

Bush says he doesn't believe the United States is in a religious battle when it comes to the war on terror. He says he wants to make it clear that America is fighting against groups of people who want to kill innocent people and not groups looking to practice their religion.

"I don't think this is a religious war. I think this is a war between evil people that are willing to kill on a mass scale; people that would like to end up with weapons of mass destruction, even kill more than they did in New York City and Washington, D.C."

While President Bush is pretty clear-cut when it comes to his feelings on the war in Iraq, taxes and health care, when it comes to the motivation behind his own stand on same-sex marriage, the president seems more willing to leave room for a deeper discussion.

Bush told Gibson he's not sure if homosexuals are born with sexual preferences or whether those preferences develop later in life.

When asked to look at the topic from a nature versus nurture standpoint, Bush said that he's open to the possibility that nature could be the defining component when it comes to a person's sexual preference.

Meanwhile, Bush says he has not changed his ideas on what constitutes a legal marriage.

"I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between, a union between a man and a woman," Bush said. "Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to you know, be able to have rights, like others."

Bush, who supports a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, says he's concerned about what activist judges will do without clear guidelines.

"Look. If you're interested in preserving marriage as a union between a man and a woman, there is one way to do so, without the courts making the decision. That's through the constitutional process and obviously I think that's the way to go, because I am concerned that courts are making this decision. This is too important a decision to have a handful of judges making, on behalf of the American people," Bush said.

While Kerry has said he opposes same-sex marriage, he does not support a constitutional amendment.

When asked her thoughts on a constitutional amendment, first lady Laura Bush said she sees it as an issue that people want to talk about.

"I'm not really sure about it. I think it's important to have the debate," she said.

As election officials beef up security at many of the nation's 200,000 polling places amid concerns that terrorists might try to interrupt the U.S. political process, Bush says he is concerned about the possibility of an attack.

"I am worried about it and we should be worried about it. On the other hand, I don't want people to say, that he knows something I don't know and therefore, something is imminent," Bush told Gibson on "Good Morning America" on Monday.

Meanwhile, Bush insists that the U.S. government has no reason to believe an attack is being planned to disrupt the presidential election.

"We don't have actionable intelligence, Charlie, that would say that there is an attack. And if we did, of course, we'd be moving heaven and Earth to stop it," Bush said.

As Bush and Sen. John Kerry get in their last days of campaigning before Election Day, both Republicans and Democrats worry about another possible disruption to the process once the votes are counted.

"I do not want to have a series of lawsuits that drag an election out," Bush said. "But I think it is very important for us to have a fair election,a good election," he said.

While conventional wisdom has long held that the key to winning the presidential election is to take Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Bush says it's not so simple. He notes the field of states that could help decide the election may be bigger than casual observers believe.

"I wouldn't discount Michigan," Bush says. "I wouldn't discount the influence of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico. I think this race is a non-predictable race. I think people like to boil it down to one or two states. I think you're gonna find there's a lot of interesting states not considered to be in play."

Both Bush and his Democratic opponent are scheduled to campaign in Michigan before Nov. 2, and both campaigns are still throwing advertising dollars into the state.

According to ABC News' political unit, 11 states, including Michigan, still appear to be "battleground" states. They are Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and New Hampshire.