Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Fact-Checking: Did Bush Sr. Say Atheists Shouldn't Be Citizens?

This is what Snopes says: probably not.

(Also, notice how the transcript doesn't sound like Bush Sr.)

And this is what I say: There are no transcripts of any such press conference in the vast archives of the Federal News Service, a private company founded in 1985 which provides independent transcripts of all sorts of political news events. In fact, between 1985 and 1992, there doesn't seem to have been any similar press conference; and the words "atheist" and "atheists" occur in only two contexts: events dealing with religious freedom and persecution (generally Soviet), and events dealing with religious bodies or celebrities. Nor do there seem to have been any followup questions from journalists or narsty moments on Meet the Press or Crossfire or the morning shows.

But don't believe me. Click on the link above and search for yourself. (Searching is free; it's reading the transcripts themselves you have to pay for.) I suggest trying the following search terms, which I also used: "O'Hare"; "schedule Bush"; and just plain "Bush" (with appropriate time limits!)

As you'll see, Bush doesn't appear to have even been in Chicago on August 27, 1987 or 1988.

However, and just in case, I also turned to the local news sources. If this happened in Chicago, surely it would be reported, no matter how busy Kemp was debating with Gephardt up in New Hampshire. And yet, "atheist Bush" and "atheists Bush" didn't present me with any stories of the kind from either the archives of the Sun-Times (which go back to 1986) or the Chicago Tribune (which go back to January 1985). Again, feel free to search for yourself if you don't believe me.

This is of course only my cursory search of the most obvious sources. But it seems awfully like another malicious urban legend to me.