Farris meets with President Bush
by Abby Pilgrim,
A few minutes before addressing a California audience last Monday about homeschooling, HSLDA Chairman of the Board Mike Farris's cell phone rang. One question: did he want to meet with President Bush before he signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act on Wednesday?
"I wasn't planning on being dead, so I said yes," Farris said.
At 12:15 on Wednesday a small group of pro-family leaders chatted in the White House before meeting with Bush. Besides Farris, the other four were Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of the board of Focus on the Family; Don Hodel, CEO and president of Focus on the Family; Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council; and Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship.
At 1:00 they were called in for a half-hour meeting with President Bush. "We thanked him for taking a right stand on human rights," Farris said. "And abortion is a human rights issue." They also commented on the negative press that the president and the partial-birth abortion issue had been receiving. Bush replied that he didn't read or watch the news. The reason, he said, was because he sees it as his job to be giving hope to the country and he wants to keep an optimistic view of life. A reporter countered Bush's comment by asking the president how he would know what people were thinking if he wasn't reading the news. Bush responded by commenting that people don't think what they think because of what is being written. "It was an interesting exchange," Farris said.
When the 2004 election was brought up, Bush didn't dwell on the topic. Instead, he asked for prayer. "He said the most important thing about being president was that people pray for you, and it matters," Farris said.
At the end of the half hour the men stood, joined hands, and Dobson closed in prayer. Walking out to the motorcade, the president turned to Farris and told him about visiting some houses that had been burned by the wildfire in California a few days before. At one home, the president noticed three little desks in a row in the rubble and correctly guessed the home belonged to a homeschool family. The father of the family told Bush, "God is taking care of us."
The president got in his car, and the five got in a van with White House staff and rode with the motorcade to the Reagan Building for the bill signing. Farris, Dobson, Perkins, and Hodel ended up standing to the side up in a balcony, instead of on the front row with other pro-family leaders. "We didn't mind," Farris said, "because we had gotten the best shot of all."
Note: Excerpted from the Patrick Henry Herald, November 10, 2003.
About the author
Abby Pilgrim is a journalism major at Patrick Henry College and editor of the school newspaper. She enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, and playing guitar. Dream job destination: living in New Zealand and writing for National Geographic.