President Bush this week met with former prisoners at a center dedicated to helping individuals overcome addictions and reminded the audience that he understood their problems, and that faith helped him overcome the impossible.
"Addiction is hard to overcome. As you might remember, I drank too much at one time in my life," Bush told the crowd at the Jericho Episcopal Community Services of Maryland, recalling how he struggled with alcohol until he was 40 and found God.
The visit, which occurred on the seventh anniversary of Bush's faith-based initiative program, was meant to highlight the importance of his support for government funding for religious organizations and their important role in aiding their communities.
"I understand faith-based programs. I understand that sometimes you can find the inspiration from a higher power to solve an addiction problem," Bush said.
The president's faith-based initiative program has given church-run organizations like Jericho hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants every year.
Jean Cushman, executive director of Episcopal Community Services, commented on the success of the program. "It was the first large grant this organization had ever applied for," Cushman said.
"It would have been harder for us to get it" without Bush's faith-based initiative program, he added.
Though critics have opposed Bush's faith-based initiative programs, arguing that federal funding for church-run organizations violates the constitutional separation between church and state, Bush was undeterred Monday during his State of the Union address when he urged Congress to continue the programs, providing a "level playing field" for all faith-based programs to receive grants.
According to the Rockefeller Institute, the number of faith-based programs that received federal funding increased from 665 in 2002 to 762 in 2004.
"Our government should not fear the influence of faith on our society," Bush told his Jericho audience.
"First is to recognize that there is a higher power. It helped me in my life. It helped me quit drinking," he said.