After his inauguration, Bush takes direction from Billy Graham

Click to follow

Having vowed to "sweep away tyranny" and "spread freedom throughout the world" in his second term in office, President George Bush went to church to pray yesterday.

About 3,200 guests, relatives and colleagues attended an hour-long service at Washington's National Cathedral that included instrumental and choral music and a multi-faith lineup of Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy.

America's best known evangelist, Billy Graham, 86, led the service and delivered one prayer in which suggested the Almighty had played a part in Mr Bush's re-election. Mr Bush credits Mr Graham with inspiring him to give up drinking at the age of 40 and to become a born-again Christian. "Their next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from you," said Mr Graham. "You know the challenges and opportunities they will face. Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and your presence always."

Mr Bush has already set out his agenda for his second term and claims his priorities will be continuing the so-called war on terror, establishing democracy in Iraq, restructuring the social security system, simplifying the tax code and introducing legislation to limit medical malpractice payouts.

He also needs to name someone to the new and powerful post of director of national intelligence, a position that was created to add oversight and co-ordination to America's numerous intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, Democrats - having kept more or less quiet during the inauguration - vowed yesterday they would be back to work, trying to stop Mr Bush's most extreme policies. They are still delaying the conformation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, something Republicans wanted completed as soon as possible.

Senator Charles Schumer, chairman of the Democratic senatorial campaign committee, told supporters in an e-mail: "When the inauguration bands stop playing and Congress comes back into session, we Democrats will be on guard and ready to fight against the Republicans' extreme policies once again."

If at times the language of Mr Bush's inaugural address on Thursday suggested it might have been written by Mr Graham or one of his fellow evangelists, there are signs that Democrats too are adopting the language of religion.

Senator Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and one of those expected to lead the fight against Republican excesses, told a fundraising dinner that there had been a false division between faith-based approaches to social problems and respect for the separation of church and state.

Mrs Clinton said: "There is no contradiction between support for faith-based initiatives and upholding our constitutional principles." Invoking God more than half-a-dozen times during the speech, she declared she had "always been a praying person".

Comments