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Bush aide finds forgiveness and a second career
Tim Goeglein was fired for plagiarism but found forgiveness from the president he wronged.
December 13th, 2011
09:23 AM ET

Bush aide finds forgiveness and a second career

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN)– Tim Goeglein never expected to see the president again, let alone get called into the Oval Office, because he committed the ultimate Washington sin - he betrayed the boss.

"The leader of the free world has lots of people to see, he has lots of things to do," Goeglein said, sitting in his office at Focus on the Family, where he is now vice president of external relations.

"The thing that leaders of the free world don't often do, probably, is ask aides who have just embarrassed them and brought shame upon the White House, they don't typically invite them to the Oval Office," he said.

But that Goeglein said is exactly what then-President George W. Bush did.

February 29, 2008, Goeglein said, was the worst day of his life.

He was made. His secret exposed.

Goeglein was a staffer in the Bush administration, an aide to Karl Rove, who dealt with faith-based groups.

That day in 2008, Goeglein was caught plagiarizing a column he wrote for his hometown paper in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Goeglein copied large sections of an essay for The News-Sentinel nearly verbatim from author Jeffery Hart, whose writings appeared in the Dartmouth Review in 1998.

Goeglein had written a weekly column for the paper and after the plagiarism was first discovered, editor Kerry Hubartt said they found instances of plagiarism in two other columns from Goeglein.

Once he was found out, Goeglein knew his actions would reflect on his boss, the president. He resigned and thought he would be banished from the Beltway forever, a fate he says he fully deserved.

That day the White House issued a terse statement:

"Today, Tim accepted responsibility for the columns published under his name in his local newspaper, and has apologized for not upholding the standards expected by the President."

"The President was disappointed to learn of the matter, and he was saddened for Tim and his family. He has long appreciated Tim's service, and he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country," the statement read.

"It is true. I am entirely at fault. It was wrong of me. There are no excuses," Goeglein wrote at the time in an e-mail apologizing to The News-Sentinel.

"I was not the senior-most person and I was not a confidant to the president," he says now, but his fall from grace was spectacular nonetheless.

But what was unknown at the time was what happened behind closed doors between the aide and the president.

In a new book, "Man in the Middle: An Inside Account of Faith and Politics in the George W. Bush Era," Goeglein paints a picture of a sympathetic president who forgave him, an act that allowed him to have that rarest of political moments, a second act in Washington.

He was exposed on a Friday and promptly resigned, confessing what he had done.

It was a bad place for any employee to be - let alone the liaison to the Christian community.

Monday, he came back to clean out his desk.

The White House chief of staff stopped by and told him, "The boss wants to see you."

A few days later, Goeglein found himself in front of the president.

Goeglein writes he tried to apologize but was cut off.

"Tim, I want you to know I forgive you," Goeglein recounts the president told him. He tried again to apologize and again was cut off by President Bush.

"I have known mercy and grace in my own life, and I am offering it to you now. You are forgiven."

The president then asked him to join him in front of the fireplace in a chair normally used by the vice president or heads of state for photo opportunities. The two chatted about the past eight years working together, and they prayed, Goeglein writes.

Goeglein said the president invited him back to the White House numerous times after that meeting, including with his family the week after the act of forgiveness, validating Goeglein in front of his wife and children. He also attended the president's farewell at Andrews Air Force Base in 2009.

Had he kept his nose clean, Tim Goeglein would have likely gone unnoticed by history.

But is it precisely because of his sin that his words are given weight.

He says he saw a side of Bush that he says bears recording, one of compassion rooted in faith. That intersection of faith and public life stirred him to reopen a personal and public wound. He wanted to show, "How does the man live his faith?"

"I experienced as a result of George W. Bush's grace and mercy, at a very personal level, a very important chapter of forgiveness in my own life and the ability to start again," he said.

Goeglein says Bush's legacy is being looked at anew, a fact which played into his decision to write the book.

When Bush left office he was deeply unpopular. The country was mired in a down economy and two wars.

"I wanted to show, not just how his faith impacted the domestic and foreign and security policies, which I do, but I also wanted to show in real human terms how his faith impacted his relationships," Goeglein said.

From his desk in the second floor of a bright town house at Focus on the Family in Washington, Goeglein can look across the street to the Supreme Court. His walls are covered with artifacts from a career inside the beltway: photos of him with Bush, a Richard Nixon autograph, an Inauguration ticket stub, reproductions of the founding documents.

In his new capacity he has worked with President Barack Obama on his fatherhood initiative, a program that has crossed party lines.

As far as Goeglein is concerned, none of this would be possible were it not for a single act of forgiveness.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Politics

soundoff (422 Responses)
  1. Drod3

    Bush the Republican – Worst US president the American People have ever had and the world has ever seen. It will take years to repair the damage this man has caused to people's lives and world economies. This must never ever happen again.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • What Have We Become?

      Do you actually believe that Bush is the worst leader the world has even seen? Worse than Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, etc? What good or productiveness does your completely idiotic statement bring?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Drod3

      Bush was the worst "US President". Please read this carefully before you respond. Worst "US President".

      Republicans would like for people to forget but we will never forget because we will never let it happen again.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • frances glass

      Shut up Drod3 you liberal shytHole.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • What Have We Become?

      @drod – So bush was worse than Warren Harding who lost White House dinnerware in a poker game? What about Andrew Johnson who supported slavery and oppressed minorities? Those are only a few. I disagree with your ignorant statement and althought Bush was imo a bad president, he was certainly not the worst.

      Again, these statements are exactly what is wrong with our country. Instead of helping and forgiving others, we only want to tear the other side down and place blame on everyone else......this is a sympton of not being truly happy with yourself on the inside.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      I agree with Drod 100%. Worst ever. It will take decades to dig out of this hole. We can only hope no one from that parade of GOP freaks gets elected to make it worse.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  2. Kris

    He actually thought that being "Dishonest" under the Bush Administration was going to be called into question? Had he even meet anyone from the Bush Administration. Being a Liar was Prerequisite in the Bush/Chaney White House. Plus, Focus on the Family is so stacked full of Liars and Hypocrites that is funny that this is a story. Why is the Heck does a group like Focus on the Family ( the most hateful, bigoted, fake) group in America even have a voice. Much less to the President?

    December 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      concur

      December 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  3. What Have We Become?

    The comments on here everyday just show how low our country has become. People on here only want to complain about the other side and blame it all on them and act as if they themselves are perfect. Maybe if we turned inwards and tried to change ourselves first, then this world wouldn't be such a brutal place.

    The comments on here show such dishonesty, ignorance, willful blindness, and hatred it's truly saddening.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Ellen

      The prayers to a non-existent uberpowerful benevolent being in the sky don't help either, and never have. Nor do expectations that said being is going to swoop in and save us.

      There's no rapture coming and there's no god, at least not the Christian one. Take some responsibility for what's wrong, and work to fix it yourself. Get your neighbors involved. And work to keep cheats like GingRich out of office.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Actually...

      It's not what we have become rather in the words of Lady GaGa we were "born this way". That's precisely why we need the Savior. Glad to celebrate His birthday at Christ mas and throughout the year.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Actually

      "Lady GaGa we were "born this way". "

      Yes, she's a lesbian and she was born that way. 😉

      December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • steven harnack

      Oh blow it out yours! These people were in charge of our country and want to be again. If they wanted to quietly work on their own failings everybody here would gladly let them. Instead they want to convince us that the worst kind of bigots and warmongers are on their way to sainthood. We are in a fight for our future against these jackals in human form.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Actually...

      Ellen – you're just plain wrong but your gripe is with Him.
      Actually – you missed the point.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      @What Have We Become?

      I agree. YOU should look inwards and try to change yourself first, then this world wouldn't be such a brutal place.

      The comments ou make on here show such dishonesty, ignorance, willful blindness, and hatred it's truly saddening.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  4. Scott in Atlanta

    I sure don't miss this Dufus and his crew.

    If I convinced you personally to allow me and my crew to come into your home, decimate your finances, drown you in debt, ignore your needs while I'm staying in your own house, divide your family, destroy your future, start a deadly feud with your neighbors (on both sides of your house), etc... and Then you finally got us out of your house.

    Once you finally started to get your household back together, is there any way in he@ll that I could convince you to let me come into a position of authority in your home again?

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: THE 2012 ELECTIONS.

    Obama2012

    December 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Obama 2012! Send the GOP freak show back to the carnival!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  5. What Have We Become?

    The comments on here day in and day out just show how low our country has become. People on here only want to complain about the other side and blame it all on them and act as if they themselves are perfect. Maybe if we turned inwards and tried to change ourselves first, then this world wouldn't be such a brutal place.

    The comments on here show such dishonesty, ignorance, willful blindness, and hatred it's truly saddening.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      @What Have We Become?

      I agree. YOU should look inwards and try to change yourself first, then this world wouldn't be such a brutal place.

      The comments you make on here show such dishonesty, ignorance, willful blindness, and hatred it's truly saddening

      December 13, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  6. Ol' Lefty

    But who's going to forgive W for ill-advised wars and ruining the American economy? He should just go away.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  7. HellBent

    A hypocritical, bigoted organization dedicated to the suppression of civilrights finds it in their hearts to hire a liar and a cheat. And this is news ... how, exactly?

    December 13, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Hellbent
      No no – they are dedicated to personal profit and the extension of The American Empire (or pax americana as they put it in PNAC a few years ago).
      The suppression of civil rights was just a convenient side-effect.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • captain america

      And a canadian should put his unneeded two cents worth into American business because...?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • steven harnack

      @captain america, how about because America puts its 10 cents into everybody else on the earth's business?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • captain canuck eh

      captain america, we have already taken over your country and especially its lawns. Our stealth airforce cr@ps mightily on your lawns daily even at the White House and will cr@p on your stupid bigoted head on their next sortie.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  8. Puddin

    Where is Bush and Cheney now? Didn't I read somewhere that Bush is out walking behind his dog scooping his poop and Cheney is out some place with his gun hunting lawyers?

    December 13, 2011 at 10:36 am |
  9. Portland tony

    CNN, in fairness to the reader you should have pointed out the. author's obvious alignment with the archaic christian beliefs that the "focus on the family'" espouses. This article is not intended to enlighten the reader about one man's struggle, it's simply written to glorify this backward thinking organization known as Focus on the family.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • MICKYD

      Portland Tony! You got it right!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  10. William Demuth

    Focus on the cult, and leave my family alone.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  11. Bienvenido A. Paulino

    George W. Bush to me is one of the greatest president of all time. He withstand the onslaught of this terrorist that attacked us, he united the American people to fight this pigs. His patriotism is beyong doubt as compare to the one who occupied the White House and his faith for his religion is an example of an strong family man. The Kenyan I am in doubt.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • William Demuth

      You do realize he lost BOTH of the wars right?

      Mission Acomplished indeed. Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of people who were maimed or killed in his pathetic little crusades.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Of course YOU liked him. You wrote his speeches.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • v_mag

      Paulino espouses one of the most outragous opinions I can think of. There might be .001% of the world that thinks GWB was anything but a disaster for the U.S. and the world. To say that this is a fringe notion is to give it much more credit than is due. To call the current president a Kenyan is likewise beyond lunatic. So, all in all, I have to complement CNN for truly giving voice to the widest range of opinion, because you can hardly find a wilder notion than that GWB was, in any way, an even passable president.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Actually...

      V_mag , like so many others, has it wrong. Time will tell.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  12. Kevin

    are we sure he didn't steal this story of forgiveness from somewhere else?

    December 13, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  13. robert J

    Is this moron hoping people will somehow forgive his useless / war mongering / destructive boss? Who cares about him and especially about the bonehead Bush!

    December 13, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  14. Kevin

    Were it not for this article he still would be unknown regardless of the "forgiveness". (His new employer Focus On The Family should be more appropriately named "Focus Against The Gays")

    December 13, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  15. Colin

    Things opposed by Focus on the Family, based upon the wishes they unilaterally attribute to the non-existent Bronze Age sky-fairy they still believe in:

    (i) a woman's right to choose;
    (ii) teaching evolution in school;
    (iii) medical immunization of teen girls against HPV;
    (iv) assisted suicide;
    (v) gay marriage;
    (vi) my right to view art and theatre deemed “offensive,” “blasphemous” or “obscene” by theists
    (vii) basic $ex education for older school children;
    (viii) treating drug abuse as principally a medical issue;
    (xi) population control;
    (x) buying alcohol on a Sunday;
    (xi) use of condoms and other contraceptives
    (xii) stem cell research.

    Fortunately, in all areas, they are getting whipped. The younger generations are increasingly secular and liberal. Their god is going the way of Ba'al, Apollo and Zeus. Into the dustbin of history.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Actually...

      No, Colin, you are wrong. You know nothing about their God, but He knows everything about you. He will not end up in the dustbin of history.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • tallulah13

      @actually

      Every true believer has thought the same of their god. The problem that every religion has ever had, the problem that your religion shares, is that there has never been any proof that any god has ever existed. If we continue to grow and learn as a species, eventually we will outgrow the supernatural.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • fred

      Colin
      Shucks Colin ya shuda stopped while you were a head. The God of Abraham, our Christ and our hope has little chance of ending in the dust bin. Throughout the Bible we see God always brings through a remnant. Noah’s family was brought through when the world fell into total wickedness. A remnant of chosen ones came out of slavery in Egypt, then a remnant out of the oppression of under the Babylonians. In the end times many again will fall into wickedness and follow your god of materialism, lust and desire. As always a remnant will be brought through but, this time will be the final gathering of those that are on that Highway prophesized by Isaiah. That road will be filled with the redeemed heading to an eternal joy with their Lord.
      You wish to poo on the Bible then go with your great history books of knowledge. In them you find since the earliest recorded marks on cave walls man has reached out in worship. You in your delusion somehow think this will end yet, all evidence shows it will has and there is no evidence it will. Consider how you were caught in that delusion yet deny you are not caught in another today. As you embrace Mammon and find it to be a cold creation of the worst in man our loving God will continue to reach out to you. May you call on the mighty name of Jesus while time is on your side.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Church of Suicidal

      You call that a rebuttal? Wow, Colin, guess he showed you.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • fred

      Church of Su
      I just cast a mighty blessing on Colin to break him from his delusion. Is it not of greater importance to save his soul? Do you suffer the same delusion that all known history is wrong and man will suddenly lose that sense of reverence? Consider simply that man has a God orientation; most of us are born that way, we can’t help it. Do you propose some new form of conversion therapy for worshipers?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Actually...

      tallulah13 – I have my proof that GOD exists but only the Holy Spirit can give you your proof. I looked for truth for nearly 30 years before I found it. I'm nearly 60 and if you had all the miracles occur in your life that I've experienced I dare say you, perhaps, would be a believer, too. There is a record of His existence which is called the Holy Bible. As far as which religion has it right? Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me". I believe Him. Anyone who denies that He was telling the truth makes Him out to be a liar. Your choice.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Huh?

      "I have my proof that GOD exists but only the Holy Spirit can give you your proof. I looked for truth for nearly 30 years before I found it. I'm nearly 60 and if you had all the miracles occur in your life that I've experienced I dare say you, perhaps, would be a believer, too. There is a record of His existence which is called the Holy Bible. As far as which religion has it right? Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me". I believe Him. Anyone who denies that He was telling the truth makes Him out to be a liar. Your choice."

      And here I thought you said you wouldn't steal other peoples handles. LOL!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Actually

      "I just cast a mighty blessing on Colin to break him from his delusion. Is it not of greater importance to save his soul? Do you suffer the same delusion that all known history is wrong and man will suddenly lose that sense of reverence?"

      No, it's called stopping the delusion of the brainwashing of humanity. History will show in years to come that Christianity is just another by product of bogus religions. It's only now that it is ok to challenge people like you, to show the world the bible is nothing but a work of fiction.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Church of Suicidal

      When is this going to sink in? Citing your religious beliefs as proof of the truth of your religious beliefs to someone who does not hold your religious beliefs is not going to advance the conversation. Maybe this will help. You are wrong. I know this because Crom says so.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Actually...

      @Church of Suicidal – do you think what you post is more valuable than what I post? Are you suicidal?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • steven harnack

      @fred, actually fred, we are born ignorant. Some of us get over it.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Church of Suicidal

      @ Actually...

      No, I am not suicidal. "Church of Suicidal" is a lyrics reference from a song about the hypocrisy and greed of televangelists. That does not mean I believe religion in general or Christianity in particular to be worthless. Religion is a positive and enriching part of many peoples lives. What I object to is the arrogance of the "My way is right and all other ways are wrong" mindset. Note: this applies to the original poster's "Sky Fairy" comments as well.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • fred

      Actually
      “History will show in years to come that Christianity is just another by product of bogus religions.”
      =>So now you are a prophet and I am the delusional one! Sorry, history proves your prediction very unlikely. If you believe the Bible then the truth and history shown in the Bible agrees with your esteemed secular history of worship. If the only god you see is Colin’s Mammon as detailed in his wish list above that god is also detailed in both the Bible and esteemed secular scripture. In the End of Days Colin’s god will be the love of man yet there will always be a remnant that know the true God. That flame will never be extinguished and never has been.
      “It's only now that it is ok to challenge people like you, to show the world the bible is nothing but a work of fiction.”
      =>Read your secular treasure books and see that Christians and Jews have been persecuted to a greater extent than whatever people you are referring too. What in the world are you taking about!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • fred

      Church of Su
      If you are a Crom worshiper I recommend Humiliate The Corpse Mp3. If you look to Crom of Conan for help you will find he is a most incompetent god that could not even stand up to Arnold.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Hmmmm....

      "Sorry, history proves your prediction very unlikely"

      Exodus never happened and the walls of Jericho did not come a-tumbling down. How archaeologists are shaking Israel to its biblical foundations.

      Israel Finkelstein, chairman of the Archaeology Department at Tel Aviv University, with archaeology historian Neil Asher Silberman, has just published a book called "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Text."

      "The Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land [of Canaan] in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the twelve tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united kingdom of David and Solomon, described in the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom."

      Jerusalem was essentially a cow town, not the glorious capital of an empire. These findings have been accepted by the majority of biblical scholars and archaeologists for years and even decades.

      The tales of the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Joseph among others - were the first to go when biblical scholars found those passages rife with anachronisms and other inconsistencies. The story of Exodus, one of the most powerful epics of enslavement, courage and liberation in human history, also slipped from history to legend when archaeologists could no longer ignore the lack of corroborating contemporary Egyptian accounts and the absence of evidence of large encampments in the Sinai Peninsula ("the wilderness" where Moses brought the Israelites after leading them through the parted Red Sea).

      Finkelstein is an iconoclast. He established his reputation in part by developing a theory about the settlement patterns of the nomadic shepherd tribes who would eventually become the Israelites, bolstering the growing consensus that they were originally indistinguishable from the rest of their neighbors, the Canaanites. This overturns a key element in the Bible: The Old Testament depicts the Israelites as superior outsiders - descended from Abraham, a Mesopotamian immigrant - entitled by divine order to invade Canaan and exterminate its unworthy, idolatrous inhabitants.

      The famous battle of Jericho, with which the Israelites supposedly launched this campaign of conquest after wandering for decades in the desert, has been likewise debunked: The city of Jericho didn't exist at that time and had no walls to come tumbling down. These assertions are all pretty much accepted by mainstream archaeologists.

      "Research is research, and strong societies can easily endure discoveries like this." By comparison with today's skeptical turmoil, the early years of the modern Israeli state were a honeymoon period for archaeology and the Bible, in which the science seemed to validate the historical passages of the Old Testament left and right. As Finkelstein and Silberman relate, midcentury archaeologists usually "took the historical narratives of the Bible at face value"; Israel's first archaeologists were often said to approach a dig with a spade in one hand and the Bible in the other. The Old Testament frequently served as the standard against which all other data were measured: If someone found majestic ruins, they dated them to Solomon's time; signs of a battle were quickly attributed to the conquest of Canaan. Eventually, though, as archaeological methods improved and biblical scholars analyzed the text itself for inconsistencies and anachronisms, the amount of the Bible regarded as historically verifiable eroded. The honeymoon was over.

      Marcus says that Finkelstein is "difficult to dismiss because he's so much an insider in terms of his credentials and background. He's an archaeologist, not a theologian, and he is an Israeli. It's hard to say that someone who was born in Israel and intends to live the rest of his life there is anti-Israeli."

      The biblical account of the capture of the city is the only one we have, and in the opinion of most modern scholars, the Bible is not an entirely reliable historical document.

      The Bible is not – and was never intended to be – a historical document. A work of theology, law, ethics and literature, it does contain historical information; but if we want to evaluate this information we should consider when, how and why the Bible was compiled.

      Until comparatively recently, the Bible was accepted as the word of God by most Jews and Christians, and therefore scholarly works dealing with it concentrated on its interpretation. In the 19th century CE, the "Age of Reason," scholars began subjecting the biblical texts to linguistic, textual, and literary analysis, noting inconsistencies and interrupted rhythms, comparing styles, and placing the text within the archaeological, historical and geographical background.

      There are still many differing opinions regarding the origin of the Bible, when it was written, and under what conditions; but it is fair to say that, outside fundamentalist circles, modern consensus suggests that the assembling and editing of the documents that were to constitute the Bible began in the seventh century BCE, some three centuries after David's time. (The earliest actual material in our possession, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dates to the second century BCE at the earliest).

      In particular, the account of Joshua's conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua in the 14th century bce were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some, such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.

      The Book of Judges, which directly contradicts Joshua, and shows the Israelites settling the land over a prolonged period, is nearer historical reality; but even it cannot be taken at face value. The archaeological surveys conducted over the past two decades indicate that the origin and development of the Israelite entity was somewhat different from either of the rival accounts in the Bible. The survey was conducted by more than a dozen archaeologists, most of them from Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology.

      Around 1200 bce, semi-nomads from the desert fringes to the east and the south, possibly including Egypt, began to settle in the hill country of Canaan. A large proportion – probably a majority of this population – were refugees from the Canaanite city states, destroyed by the Egyptians in one of their periodic invasions. The conclusion is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham's journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin. The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites were establishing themselves in the hills.

      Thus the founders of Israel were not Abraham and Moses; but Saul and David. It was apparently Saul who consolidated the hill farmers under his rule and created fighting units capable of confronting the Philistines. It was David who defeated the Philistines and united the hill farmers with the people of the Canaanite plains, thus establishing the Kingdom of Israel and its capital city.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't think that the belief in God is going to go away, although many of the younger Christians are more liberal. I think it is just that they do not take the Bible as literal as the older generations did.

      December 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • fred

      Hmmmmmm
      The tune you are humming sounds much like the one that brought down the walls ! Now, don’t take away my favorite Bible verse because it was not a Hmmmm but a blast from 7 horns that made the walls fall down:” Have seven priests carry seven rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day march around the city seven times, while the priests blow the horns”
      That is the history of the chosen ones as it was written. I understand the need of men from “the age of reason” to rewrite history to fit their view. The history you, a person of reason, just presented is not the story of the chosen ones. Your story lacks everything that made the chosen ones the scorn of those that rewrite other people’s story. Since you doubt their own personal story I am certain you will agree with historical facts as put forth by men of reason godless or not concerning these chosen ones. They were persecuted by; Babylonians, Romans, Christians, Germans and to this day the 4th element the Media. You claim the Bible a lie yet decedents of Abraham (Isaac and Ishmael) are the two warring brothers described in the Bible one being today’s Israel Jews and the other Muslim Arabs. That was 3-6 thousand years ago depending on which man of reason you hang your hat on today. I await your rewrite of that important history which both hang onto.

      My point on history was that the Bible reflects a remnant of God fearing people coming through to the end. History (secular rewritten as often as you wish) also shows man worshiping and giving reverence since the earliest written or even cave drawings. There is no basis to say this will stop regardless of which history you chose.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • hmmmmm

      "My point on history was that the Bible reflects a remnant of God fearing people coming through to the end. "

      Which is based on lies, no facts to support it, the bible is not true.

      December 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • fred

      Hmmmmmmmmmmm
      What are you talking about "no facts support it". The word of God is being preached thoughout the world today. 80 million new Christians in China. All evidence continues to record the fact man is not giving up on the worship of God. Colin and others have no basis to state that the worship of God is going in the dust bin. You can call it an atheist christmas wish list but not a fact.
      "based on lies, no facts to support it, the bible is not true"
      =>Nonsense, you have no proof that the oral traditions of the Hebrews were based on lies. You have a godless opinion based on reason which itself is founded upon the god of Mammon. You have in front of you the Nation of Israel and the Arab Nation that are known decendents from Isaac and Ishmael. Their battle played out before your eyes and you deny it? Prove to yourself they are from their father Abraham I do not need that proof I can see it. Better yet, what proof do you have that the Nation of Israel and Arab Nation did not come from Abraham ?

      December 13, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • hmmmmm

      "the word of God is being preached thoughout the world today. 80 million new Christians in China. All evidence continues to record the fact man is not giving up on the worship of God."

      from one of your christian websites....

      This quest started in 1992 as a Fuller Institute project that was picked up by FASICLD in 1998, seeking what had happened and why the bride of Christ was in decline. God’s marvelous Church has become culturally irrelevant and even distant from is prime purpose of knowing Him, growing in Him, and worshipping Him by making disciples! This is evidenced by what is going on in our culture and in our church. Most of the statistics tell us that nearly 50% of Americans have no church home. In the 1980s, membership in the church had dropped almost 10%; then, in the 1990s, it worsened by another 12% drop—some denominations reporting a 40% drop in their membership. And now, over half way through the first decade of the 21st century, we are seeing the figures drop even more!

      What is Going on with the Church in America?

      The United States Census Bureau Records give some startling statistics, backed up by denominational reports and the Assemblies of God U.S. Missions:

      • Every year more than 4000 churches close their doors compared to just over 1000 new church starts!

      • There were about 4,500 new churches started between 1990 and 2000, with a twenty year average of nearly 1000 a year.

      • Every year, 2.7 million church members fall into inactivity. This translates into the realization that people are leaving the church. From our research, we have found that they are leaving as hurting and wounded victims—of some kind of abuse, disillusionment, or just plain neglect!

      • From 1990 to 2000, the combined membership of all Protestant denominations in the USA declined by almost 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 24 million (11 percent).

      • At the turn of the last century (1900), there was a ratio of 27 churches per 10,000 people, as compared to the close of this century (2000) where we have 11 churches per 10,000 people in America! What has happened?

      • Given the declining numbers and closures of Churches as compared to new church starts, there should have been over 38,000 new churches commissioned to keep up with the population growth.

      • The United States now ranks third (3rd) following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, the U.S. is becoming an ever increasing “un-reached people group.”

      • Half of all churches in the US did not add any new members to their ranks in the last two years.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • hmmmmm

      Now, by extrapolating the data and doing some statistical evaluation and adding some hope for revival, we can see the figures drop to 15% of Americans in attendance at a church by 2025, and a further drop to 11% or 12 % in 2050. Soon, we can catch up with Europe, which is currently “enjoying” two to four percent of its population in regular Church attendance. By the time these predictions come to pass, Europe may have no significant Church presence at all.

      December 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • hmmmmm

      Statistics from Barna Research reported recently that perhaps 50% of people who go to a church are not even Christians. LOL!

      December 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • fred

      UMMMMM
      In 2010, there were 2.30 billion Christians in the world, an increase of 150 million from two billion in 2005. The increase in the Christian population is growing at a slightly higher rate than the world population. Facts simply facts. (Wikki was the the quickest, I have not bothered to look into it much)

      December 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • fred

      Ummmm
      Now move onto the Nation of Israel we are 50% on the path to unity between reason and truth

      December 13, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, reason and religion are mutually exclusive. As are intelligence and your brain.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • hmmmmmm

      "In 2010, there were 2.30 billion Christians in the world, an increase of 150 million from two billion in 2005."

      Wiki, really, what a joke...ok, here is from your wiki too....Since the late 19th century, the demographics of religion have changed a great deal. Some countries with a historically large Christian population have experienced a significant decline in the numbers of professed active Christians. Symptoms of the decline in active participation in Christian religious life include declining recruitment for the priesthood and monastic life, as well as diminishing attendance at church.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • hmmmmmm

      "In 2010, there were 2.30 billion Christians in the world,"

      So in case you haven't figure it out, 33% of the world's population considers themselves Christians. So it's not as great as you think it is. LOL!

      December 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • fred

      Ummmmm
      Just throwing some numbers out. The growth in numbers continues simply because of birh rates. Yes, I have no idea if they are going to church or not. Attendence went up at 911 now we are below 911 numbers as far as chuch attendence.
      We are in agreeement yes?

      December 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bob

      fred's fairy tale god-ass-hole in the sky has been losing ground in the US, and that is great news. From this website:

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-09/living/us.religion.less.christian_1_american-religious-identification-survey-christian-nation-evangelical

      "America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.

      Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent."

      fred, take your sicko Christian supersti-tions and your horrid bible, and shove them sideways up your aft end.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      You are right ! I have proof. I will pray for you.....................................OMG it worked. My reason and your religion (Mammon) will never unite. We are like oil and water.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, get on that goat already. fred's fairy tale god-ass-hole in the sky has been losing ground in the US, and that is great news. From this website:

      http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-09/living/us.religion.less.christian_1_american-religious-identification-survey-christian-nation-evangelical

      "America is a less Christian nation than it was 20 years ago, and Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether, a survey published Monday found.

      Seventy-five percent of Americans call themselves Christian, according to the American Religious Identification Survey from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1990, the figure was 86 percent."

      fred, take your sicko Christian supersti-tions and your horrid bible, and shove them sideways up your aft end.

      December 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others."

      December 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Well

      "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others"

      Christians today do not follow that at ALL, including you fred. You're posts prove otherwise. 😉

      December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • fred

      Example please. Also, limit your response to this post since I note someone else likes to use "fred".

      December 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @actually

      You believe your delusion because it makes you happy. You have exactly the same proof as the adherents of Zeus and Osiris did. Their belief was just as deep and profound as yours. And your faith will end up in the mythology category someday, just as theirs did.

      December 14, 2011 at 2:27 am |
  16. Time to arrest Bush and Cheney and this guy too

    If I was this guy I'd be so ashamed of being associated with the Bush "administration" and all the treason associated with it that I would kill myself instead of plastering my lack of intelligence all over the news for all the world to see.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • v_mag

      I think it is time for all the presidential candidates to take another pledge: to immediately arrest Bush and Cheney for war crimes. If the Repugnant candidates want forgiveness from America, this is the least they should pledge. Of course, like all other pledges, they would have no real intention of keeping it. But it would get the conversation going in the right direction.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Actually...

      V_mag – Seriously? Then put your current Pres. on your list of people to try for war crimes. He's giving orders to assassinate anyone he chooses.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • HellBent

      @Actually – how so? Please explain how Obama is violating international law. And do you think that as.sasination is worse than lying to start a decade-long war where many thousands of innocent civilians are killed?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  17. Finnigan O'Hara

    Birds of a feather. Funny we do not hear from Bush/Cheney lately. Why are they not out supporting the GOP candidates? Can it be that no one wants to be associated with them?

    December 13, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  18. Portland tony

    OMG.... STRING HIM UP.....PLAGIARISM ...THIS IS AN ESOTERIC CRIME ONLY PREVIOUSLY FOUND IN JOURNALISM AND ON DUBIOUS COLLEGE PAPERS. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS! THIS IS A STORY ABOUT NOTHING VERY IMPORTANT TO THE FREE WORLD!

    December 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  19. mm

    Never liked Bush's policies but thought he was a good man. This story reflects well on his core as a human being.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • I smell a rat

      Idiot! They needed him as a middleman so they could extend their reach to all the batshlt crazy extremists they didn't have time for!

      December 13, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • Finnigan O'Hara

      His core as a crook. This so called human being is responsible for hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths and thousands of American casualties in a war to eliminate non existing weapons of mass destruction. This humanitarian created two unfunded and unnecessary wars and plunged us into near Depression. He brought back torture of prisoners. The 'Education President disrupted public education in the US and set it back by decades. He lied to us. Of course he forgives another liar.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  20. Buzkil

    Being "forgiven" by a brain-damaged alcoholic for doing something complicated and "wrong" is nothing to be proud about.

    December 13, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Actually...

      Where does the article mention proud? Who said former President Bush had brain damage? He recognized he had a problem with alcohol abuse and turned to God for help. Too bad more people don't humble themselves and do the same thing. People who know nothing about God/ forgiveness and always think they have the right answers will never know the truth. I don't know if you have brain damage. I could make that assumption.

      December 13, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • What Have We Become?

      What's wrong with you? You clearly have no regard for factual truth. Trolling on these boards like you're the most pious person ever.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • v_mag

      I'm sick of turning the other cheek to criminals who slap America silly, time and time again. Forgiveness is all well and good, but whatever happened to justice? Where are all those supposedly "law and order" Republicans who wanted long jail sentences for criminals? Why weren't they first in line to indicte Bush/Cheney and all their minions? Where was their forgiveness when it was a Democrat who screwed up?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Actually...

      v_mag, it's not a party issue. Everybody screws up. If Bush/Cheney committed real war crimes they would be tried. Just that what Dems think and Repubs think is actually stemming from two different ideologies. Some people believe no one is evil and everyone can be trusted. Some believe people are born with an inclination to sin and need a Savior. Most of us believe we all have the right to choose what to believe. What do you believe? If you really want to know the truth start seeking for it. (Hint: humble yourself and ask GOD to help otherwise you are just operating with your others' and your own human
      knowledge.)

      December 13, 2011 at 11:26 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.