With a slight smile on his face and with his left hand on the Holy Bible, the evangelical President who received the greatest number of popular votes in history was sworn in for his second four year term in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, at the Capitol, Thursday, January 20, 2005. After repeating the traditional 39 word-pledge that ends with the phrase so help me God, President George W. Bush delivered a powerful speech on America, freedom and democracy.
"We will go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choice that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation," said Bush. "God moves and chooses as he wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul."
While Bush did not mention the words Jesus or Christ in his address, he spoke of the freedom that comes from the Maker of Heaven and earth and the justice that flows from God.
From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth, said Bush.
Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world, he continued. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."
And to the disparagement of those who attempted to take religion out of the inaugural service, Bush spoke of the truths of Christianity - and he mentioned the teachings of Judaism and Islam as well.
"America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives...That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people, said Bush. Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever.
According to Rev. Bob Schenk, president of the National Clergy Council and past board member of the Evangelical Church Alliance, President Bushs mention of the Koran in his inaugural speech was very wise.
"The Koran contains words directly reflecting Biblical material. This is a wise way for our country to build bridges of understanding to the Islamic world, and like St. Paul did with the pagan Greeks, it's a even way to gain a hearing on Judeo-Christian concepts of liberty, said Schenk, who organized an inaugural prayer service for some 150 evangelicals earlier that day.
Schenk also praised the benediction given by Pastor Kirby John Caldwell, an African-American pastor of a United Methodist Church in Houston, whom Bush hand-picked.
"Pastor Caldwell's prayer reflected the heart of George Bush, right down to its closing in the names of Jesus Christ, said Schenk.
During his benediction, Pastor Caldwell focused on thanksgiving, rallying Americans together and providing "equal opportunity for all, including the least, the last and the lost."
"As we conclude this 55th inaugural ceremony, we conclude it with an attitude of thanksgiving, thanking you for protecting our borders because, as the psalmist says, unless you guard the territory our efforts will be in vain," Caldwell said.
"Deliver us from the evil one and the near appearance of evil," he said. "Give us clean hearts, clean agendas, clean priorities and programs and even clean financial statements."
Earlier in the day, Bush attended the traditional morning prayer service at St. Johns Episcopal Church with his family to officially begin the inaugural ceremonies. Luis Leon, rector of St. Johns also delivered the invocation at the inaugural ceremony.
Tomorrow, renowned evangelist Billy Graham will lead the opening prayer at the National Prayer Service alongside dozens of clergy from various denominations and faiths.
"I have known the Bush family for many years, and have seen how their faith in God has sustained them through some very trying times," Graham said in a statement. "I pray for them daily, and it is a great honor to pray publicly for our president, his family, and our nation as he begins his second term."
The service is scheduled for Friday morning at the National Cathedral.