“I know many of you are concerned with what happened in Charleston,” Jeb Bush told religious voters at a Friday conference in Washington.
The Republican presidential candidate talked about how he was coincidentally scheduled to hold a campaign event in the same city just hours after the slaughter of nine worshipers at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church this week. In fact, he was staying at a hotel just a block away from the scene of the massacre.
It just wasn’t “appropriate to continue to campaign” that day in Charleston, Bush explained at the Faith and Freedom Coalition summit.
“But it is appropriate to mourn because we know that a house of God is a house of peace and brotherhood,” Bush told the crowd of value voters, “and the violence that took place in that church just breaks our heart. And this was an evil act of aggression.”
The former Florida governor went on to say that, “In times like these, in times of great national mourning, people of faith, all of us, must come together and at least reflect on this and fortify our strength and love of Christ, love of God, to continue to go forth. I don’t know about you, but this has had a big impact on me, and I’m sure it has with you.”
Bush used Friday’s speech at the “Road to Majority” conference to show values voters how his religious views would guide him as president.
For one, he dismissed politicians who say one’s faith should have nothing to do with their views in politics. “In the game of political correctness, that’s the answer that gets you to the next level,” Bush lamented.
“Well, that’s not me,” he said. “How strange in our time today to hear our faith and our moral traditions spoken as some kind of backwards or oppressive force, when in fact, it is really the moral foundation of our country, the greatest country on the face of the earth.”
Bush talked about how his “life was transformed” when he was 17, living in León, Mexico,and met, his now wife of 41 years, Columba.
“I converted to the Catholic church,” he said. “Christ came into my life a little earlier, but I converted to being Catholic in honor of my wife and because I believe in the blessed sacraments and they give me great comfort.”
Bush argued Friday that “religious freedom is under attack” in the United States.
“Whether it’s the Obama administration, or just the general culture, it’s important for us to recognize it’s been a rough year for religious charities and their right of conscience in this country,” he said. “There seems to be an attitude that when the prevailing government policy runs headlong into the views of the faithful, the faithful must yield.”
Quipped Bush: “I don’t know about you, but I’m betting that when it comes to doing the right and good thing, the Little Sisters of the Poor know better than the regulators of the Health and Human Services.”
Bush also addressed the debate over whether same-sex can legally marry, saying he firmly believes in traditional marriage.
“This conscience should also be respected when people of faith want to take a stand for traditional marriage,” he said.
“In a country like ours, we should recognize the power of man and a woman, loving their children with all their heart and soul, as a good thing,” Bush said. “As something that is positive and helpful for those children to live a successful life. And while there are people that disagree with this, we should not push aside those that do believe in traditional marriage.”