This article is from the Atheism FAQ, by mathew firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
"Did George Bush really say that atheists should not be considered
The following exchange took place at the Chicago airport between
Robert I. Sherman of American Atheist Press and George Bush, on August
27 1988. Sherman is a fully accredited reporter, and was present by
invitation as a member of the press corps. The Republican presidential
nominee was there to announce federal disaster relief for Illinois.
The discussion turned to the presidential primary:
"What will you do to win the votes of Americans who are
"I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God
is important to me."
"Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of
Americans who are atheists?"
"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as
citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one
nation under God."
"Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the
separation of state and church?"
"Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just
not very high on atheists."
UPI reported on May 8, 1989, that various atheist organizations were
still angry over the remarks.
The exchange appeared in the Boulder Daily Camera on Monday February
27, 1989. It can also be found in "Free Inquiry" magazine, Fall 1988
issue, Volume 8, Number 4, page 16.
On October 29, 1988, Mr. Sherman had a confrontation with Ed Murnane,
co-chairman of the Bush-Quayle '88 Illinois campaign. This concerned a
lawsuit Mr. Sherman had filed to stop the Community Consolidated
School District 21 (Chicago, Illinois) from forcing his first-grade
atheist son to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States as
"one nation under God" (Bush's phrase). The following conversation
"American Atheists filed the Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit
yesterday. Does the Bush campaign have an official response to
"What is bullshit?"
"Everything that American Atheists does, Rob, is bullshit."
"Thank you for telling me what the official position of the
Bush campaign is on this issue."
After Bush's election, American Atheists wrote to Bush asking him to
retract his statement. On February 21st 1989, C. Boyden Gray, Counsel
to the President, replied on White House stationery that Bush
substantively stood by his original statement, and wrote:
As you are aware, the President is a religious man who neither
supports atheism nor believes that atheism should be unnecessarily
encouraged or supported by the government."
For further information, contact American Atheist Veterans at the
American Atheist Press's Cameron Road address.