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Conservatives: Beware Of What Jeb Bush Didn’t Say At Liberty University

Jeb Bush speaking at Liberty University

Last weekend former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the Republican establishment’s “great white hope” in the 2016 presidential race, delivered the commencement address at Liberty University, (link to the full text of Bush’s remarks at the end of this article) and conservatives should be on high alert for what Bush said and didn’t say in his remarks.

Gov. Bush’s remarks were well received by the establishment media – who can be counted on to back the most liberal Republican in the primaries and to demand conservatives move to the “center” to win.

And there were many fair words in Jeb Bush’s remarks to the graduates and their families at what is now America’s largest Christian university.

Bush’s defense of Christianity in the face of religious bigotry was welcome and something all too rare in the language of the Republican establishment.

“In all these causes, and others, your generation is fully engaged, acting by the light of conscience.  If any spirit is to be gladly welcomed in a free society, you’d think that would be the one.  At least, the Founding generation thought so when they wrote the First Amendment.  But, of course, others have their own ideas.  Fashionable opinion – which these days can be a religion all by itself – has got a problem with Christians and their right of conscience.  That makes it our problem, and the proper response is a forthright defense of the first freedom in our Constitution,” said Governor Bush.

Bush went on to cite the battle between the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Obama administration and its demand that all health care plans cover abortions and abortion-inducing drugs.

Bush said “it’s a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother – and I’m going with the Sisters.”

All of this was useful news to conservative voters plumbing Jeb Bush’s beliefs in advance of the looming announcement of his presidential campaign.

But delivering a speech praising religious freedom and freedom of conscience at Liberty University was a no-brainer that could have been delivered – indeed most certainly would have been delivered – by any of the Republican candidates for president speaking at the university founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, who also founded the Moral Majority, one of the organizations that first activated evangelical voters in the 1970s and 1980s.

What was notably missing from Bush’s remarks was what he would actually do as President to advance religious freedom, freedom of conscience and the Christian values he praised throughout his remarks.  

Bush neither endorsed nor even praised any of the various legislative remedies proposed to curb Obama’s trampling on the First Amendment and freedom of conscience. Nor did he advocate any approach unique to his political experience or philosophy because, truth be told, he has so-far religiously avoided engaging on such issues when out on the campaign trail.

What’s more we see in Gov. Bush’s remarks several troubling references to the language of the Left.

One obvious area was Bush’s reference to Christian values as somehow informing environmental legislation, “America’s environmental debates, likewise, can be too coldly economical, too sterile of life, and you remind us what’s really at stake.  Christians see in nature and all its creatures designs grander than any of man’s own devising – the endless, glorious work of the Lord of Life.  Men and women of your generation are striving to be protectors of creation, instead of just users, good shepherds instead of just hirelings – and that moral vision can make all the difference,” said Bush.

We are not sure how Bush squares those remarks with Genesis 1:26-28 wherein the Bible tells us “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…” (KJV) Or how they fit with the Psalmist’s praise in Psalm 8:6 “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.” (KJV)

But even more troubling than Bush’s efforts to shoehorn “Earth Mother” environmentalism into the Gospel was his foray into trying to harmonize the timeless values of the Judeo-Christian tradition with the Left’s idea of an “evolving” Christian Church and faith.

“You also understand that some moral standards are universal.  They do not bend under the weight of cultural differences or elite opinion,” Gov. Bush approvingly told the Liberty University graduates.

But the Governor also said “…when some people think of Christianity and of Judeo-Christian values, they think of something static, narrow, and outdated.  We can take this as unfair criticism, as it typically is, or we can take it as further challenge to show in our lives the most dynamic, inclusive, and joyful message that ever came into the world.”

Being “inclusive’ is the justification used by the fast-dying establishment protestant churches, such as the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA, to accept and perform same-sex “marriage,” despite the conflict between that practice and the timeless and universal Judeo-Christian “moral standard” that marriage is between one man and one woman.

But as McKay Coppins noted in a very revealing article for Buzz Feed, to an extent that would have been unthinkable in past elections, Jeb Bush has stocked his inner circle with advisers who are vocal proponents of gay rights. “When Bush officially launches his presidential bid later this year, he will likely do so with a campaign manager who has urged the Republican Party to adopt a pro-gay agenda; a chief strategist who signed a Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for marriage equality in California; a longtime adviser who once encouraged her minister to stick to his guns in preaching equality for same-sex couples; and a communications director who is openly gay.”

In the aftermath of his commencement remarks at Liberty University the establishment media have been generally kind to Gov. Bush seeing in his remarks nothing that any other Republican candidate for President wouldn’t have said. The establishment media has also offered-up the near-universal explanation that in order to win the Republican nomination Bush has to court the influential evangelical vote, so wink-wink, don’t put too much stock in what he said there.

We have a different view – we believe what Jeb Bush said, and what he didn’t say at Liberty University.

The problem with Jeb Bush as the Republican candidate for President is much the same problem we see in all too many Republican members of Congress – they are apparently sincere people who inform their personal lives with religious values, but who are incapable of translating those values into effective public policy. Or who, wishing to be “inclusive,” accept the latest heresy as a substitute for the timeless verities of the plain language of the Bible and are unwilling to say plainly that right and wrong do exist and that some things now acceptable in popular culture, such as same-sex “marriage,” are wrong.

Click here for the full text of Jeb Bush’s commencement address to the 2015 graduates of Liberty University.

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