Bush praises religious broadcasters


President George W. Bush Monday praised religious broadcasters for bringing
"words of truth, comfort and encouragement into millions of homes. You serve
with all your heart and soul," he said, and "America is grateful."

In a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville,
Tenn., Bush told his audience broadcasting was more than a job for them,
calling it a "great commission."

He asked them to use that commission to help in his nationwide volunteerism
campaign, saying they could "rally the armies of compassion so that we can
change America one heart, one soul at a time."

He also called on broadcasters to help unite rich and poor, urban churches
and suburban, calling the 11 a.m. Sunday-morning hour "the most segregated hour
in America."

Bush said America's "deep and diverse" beliefs were one of the country's
strengths. "In scripture, God commands us to reach out to those who are
different and to reconcile with each other," he added.

This was as close as the speech came to address criticisms over anti-Islam
statements that have been made by some religious broadcasters, although the
president did mention the crescent as one of the symbols that should not be
discriminated against and talked of not denying federal assistance to Christian, Muslim or Jewish schools.

Bush used the speech to promote his faith-based initiatives and to make the
case for what seems an increasingly likely war with Iraq.