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George W. Bush’s message to grads: How religious liberty keeps US free

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In his first commencement speech since leaving office, former President George W. Bush spoke on the importance of religious liberty and offered words of inspiration — even to C students.

Speaking Saturday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, home of his presidential library and where his wife, Laura, graduated, Bush offered hope to graduates with a less than inspiring academic record by joking about his own past.

“Those of you who are graduating this afternoon with high honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done,” he said. “And as I like to tell the C students: you too can be president.”

Bush’s optimism continued.

“Some say America’s best days are behind us,” he said. “I say, given our strengths — one of which is a bright new generation like you — these are not dark days, these are great days.”

Among the reasons for hope, America’s 43rd president included religious liberty.

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“And finally, you can be hopeful because there is a loving God,” he said. “Whether you agree with that statement is your choice, it is not your government’s choice.

“It is essential to this nation’s future that we remember that the freedom to worship who we want, and how we want — or not to worship at all — is a core belief of our founding.”

In closing, Bush reflected on his own faith.

“I’ve made my choice,” he said. “I believe that the Almighty’s grace and unconditional love will sustain you.”

Tom Tillison


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