American flag waving in blue skyWritten by Don Byrd

This morning, former President George W. Bush spoke with Matt Lauer of the Today Show on a number of topics including the importance of religious liberty. He reiterated the fact that Islam is a religion of peace, a perspective he made clear in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

You can watch the video below. The section on religion and religious liberty starts at about the 3:45 mark, and here is a transcript of that section:

MATT LAUER: It was only 8 or 9 months after you took office that the attacks of 9/11 occurred, the worst terrorist attack on American soil. And just after those attacks you gave a speech and you said this: “I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful.” That’s very different talk than what we’re hearing today about a Muslim ban. Do you think the president’s position on this has been well-thought-out?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or not worship at all. I mean, the bedrock of our freedom — a bedrock of our freedom — is the right to worship freely. And, I understood right off the bat, Matt, that this was an ideological conflict, and people who murder the innocent are not religious people. They want to advance an ideology. And we have faced those kind of ideologues in the past.