Joining with religious writers and editors from throughout the United States, Elder Rex D. Pinegar of the Presidency of the Seventy met with President George Bush recently in a White House briefing.
"It was an impressive meeting," Elder Pinegar reported. He attended the March 28 meeting in his capacity as editor of Church magazines."The President called the group together to accomplish two objectives - to gain the support of the religious media for his `points of light' voluntarism program and to establish a dialogue between the religious community and the White House," he explained. "I think he was successful on both counts."
At the meeting, President Bush was asked if he thought it was appropriate for religious groups to petition the White House for views regarding specific issues.
"He told us that it was not only appropriate, but that we had an obligation to do so," Elder Pinegar said.
President Bush emphasized his program of voluntarism as being one designed for private sector action, not for government efforts. He said that once the government became involved in an effort, it ceased to be a voluntary action.
"The President came across as a prayerful man with deep religious convictions," Elder Pinegar noted. "He said he hoped he could be an example in this country and other countries of a person living up to his personal convictions.
"He told us he was sustained during the [PersianT Gulf War by his prayers and by his faith. He said it was necessary to recognize and mobilize the great force of a belief in God, and that had it not been for this, there would have been no assurance that we could engage in or succeed in such a war."
The President also told the group that "there should be no question" about permitting prayers at public school graduations. "Voluntary prayers should be allowed," he said.
Elder Pinegar continued, "It was a wonderful experience. I think the understandings gained by those of us who participated in the meeting will turn out to be real assets in helping religious leaders of the nation to make their views known to the President and other leaders of the government."
After returning to Church headquarters, Elder Pinegar wrote to the President to commend him on the voluntarism program "since this surely places upon every individual, family, and community an opportunity to be aware of their moral conscience to serve one another."
In the letter, Elder Pinegar also posed a question to President Bush, because he has established himself as "a person of great moral rectitude" and indicated that many of his decisions "are made on the basis of what is morally right."
Elder Pinegar asked the President what he could do and what others could do to help youth acquire the same sense of responsibility to judge things on the basis of what is morally right.
He explained to President Bush that he would be happy to publish the answer in Church publications, which reach approximately 1 million homes.