Ari & I: February 6, 2003
White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer
Mokhiber: Ari, two things.
A group of bishops and pastors from the National Council of Churches, the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, among others -- sent a letter to the President last week. They said they want a meeting face-to-face with him because they're "uneasy about the moral justification for war on Iraq." Will the President meet with these church leaders?
Ari Fleischer: As always, we'll fill you in on the President's schedule. But I want to emphasize again the President is a deeply religious man, and there are many people in a variety of religions who are going to have different thoughts about how to keep the peace and whether or not to go to war with Saddam Hussein. The President will respect their thoughts, and he will act as he sees fit as Commander-in-Chief to protect the country.
Mokhiber: One question on that.
You just said the President is a deeply religious man. Jesus Christ was an absolute pacifist. How does the President square his militarism with Jesus' pacifism?
[At this point, other reporters in the room challenge Russell's assertion that Jesus Christ was an absolute pacifist. One says "no he wasn't." Another says "How about the -- at the temple with a whip, where he beat the hell out of those money-changers? Does that sound like he's an absolute pacifist, Ari?"]
Ari Fleischer: I think there may be a debate in the press corps about your question, Russell.
[Press conference ends, with reporters shouting. Ari walks out without answering the question.]