Q But I want to tell you — and I hope this doesn’t bother you at all — that in the Islamic world they think that President Bush is an enemy of Islam —
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q — that he wants to destroy their religion, what they believe in. Is that in any way true, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not. I’ve heard that, and it just shows [sic] to show a couple of things: One, that the radicals have done a good job of propagandizing. In other words, they’ve spread the word that this really isn’t peaceful people versus radical people or terrorists, this is really about the America not liking Islam.
Well, first of all, I believe in an almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That’s what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace. And I believe people who murder the innocent to achieve political objectives aren’t religious people, whether they be a Christian who does that — we had a person blow up our — blow up a federal building in Oklahoma City who professed to be a Christian, but that’s not a Christian act to kill innocent people.
THE PRESIDENT: And I just simply don’t subscribe to the idea that murdering innocent men, women and children — particularly Muslim men, women and children in the Middle East — is an act of somebody who is a religious person.
We are having an Iftaar dinner tonight — I say, “we” — it’s my wife and I. This is the seventh one in the seven years I’ve been the President. It gives me a chance to say “Ramadan Mubarak.” The reason I do this is I want people to understand about my country. In other words, I hope this message gets out of America. I want people to understand that one of the great freedoms in America is the right for people to worship any way they see fit. If you’re a Muslim, an agnostic, a Christian, a Jew, a Hindu, you’re equally American.
And the value — the most valuable thing I think about America is that — particularly if you’re a religious person — you can be free to worship, and it’s your choice to make. It’s not the state’s choice, and you shouldn’t be intimidated after you’ve made your choice. And that’s a right that I jealously guard.
Secondly, I want American citizens to see me hosting an Iftaar dinner.
Q That’s a strong message for the Americans.
THE PRESIDENT: It is a strong message. I want to remind your listeners that one of the first things I did after September the 11th is I went to the local mosque. And I did because I wanted to send a message that those who came to kill Americans were young terrorists, and they do not reflect the views of the vast majority of peaceful people in the Middle East; and that our — precisely the message I was trying to send, the war is not a struggle against Muslims, the Muslim religion, it is a struggle of honorable, peaceful people throughout the world against the few who want to impose their vision.
It is quite obvious that President Bush was attempting to make peace with the Muslim community. However, his comments and actions go too far. It is wrong for a Christian to take part in another religion’s rituals. Remember when Solomon did that? God was greatly displeased.
Unfortunately, President Bush’s response sends the message that all religious people are worshiping the same God irrespective of their relationship to Jesus Christ. Whether he is intending to do this or not, his actions are sending a mixed message to all that the Lord Jesus Christ is not the exclusive way to God the Father. That is a serious problem.