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Interview With Bill Bunkley of Salem Radio

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Greensboro, North Carolina
June 14, 2006

QUESTION: Thank you for this opportunity. Madame Secretary, I just have a couple of questions. My question centers around the concept of religious freedom in Iraq. And in light of the recent persecution of the Christians, as well as other minority groups - a minority group face in Iraq - if a stricken corporation of Islamic law is included in the final Iraqi governance, would you consider that a major disappointment, maybe even a failure on the part of our government? Or given the support and sacrifice for American troops and their families for the cause of freedom and democracy, how do you think that reaction will be if those minority faiths are not accepted?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that they will be -- minority faiths will be accepted. What we're seeing in the Muslim world is a coming to terms with the relationship between Islam and politics. It's, by the way, an evolution, a journey that a lot of countries have had to take. And these are young democracies. They're trying to come to terms with these issues, but their constitutions do enshrine individual rights, they enshrine Universal Declaration on Human Rights, as well as a commitment to the laws of Islam. So I believe that they're in much stronger position now to begin to guarantee the rights of minorities. And what we do know about places where Islam is practiced within democracies is that freedom of religion tends to reign.

I was in Indonesia recently and Indonesia is a majority Muslim country. But you want to talk about freedom of religion. We sat around a table with a Catholic priest, with a Protestant pastor, with a Hindu priest. And I think that's what you're going to see because in democracies people are going to demand the right to individual conscience. And they're a long way from Saddam Hussein or the Taliban, where you couldn't even have this conversation.

QUESTION: Yes. Let me ask you a question. You have shared in previous interviews in the past that you are a deeply religious person, which has been especially helpful to you when you're dealing with the difficult moral issues in the world today. Could you share about your parents' influence on your faith as a little girl growing up in Alabama, as well as today how that affects your duties as the United States Secretary of State?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, I was fortunate. I grew up in a home in which God was at the center. And in fact, our Sundays were my father in the pulpit, my mother on the organ and when I was old enough, me on the piano. So the church was the center of our life. And my parents gave me the gift of that faith. I think it's something I never doubted, although we all have our journeys. And I think my recommitment to faith when I was in my late 20s was very important. I also have been through in terms of my own personal life, you know, the deaths of my parents. And I think when you go through something like that it's only faith that gets you through. Your intellect won't do it. It's only faith. And you learn to trust your faith in hard times.

As a result as, first, National Security Advisor and now Secretary of State during some of the hardest times for our country, I think I've learned to trust our -- trust faith and to trust that faith allows you not only to survive difficult times, but to overcome it and to even go on to do greater things. And that's what America as a country has done under President Bush's leadership. We've survived September 11th, but we came out of that with a new commitment to the ideals of upholding the principles of liberty and democracy for people all around the world. And that's, I think, when faith is at its best, when it steals you not just to get through your tragedy, but to reach for something higher.

QUESTION: And that brings another question. The President is a man of faith as well. In your working relationship, because the both of you have this basis of faith and you have been willing to talk about that openly whereas some public officials don't, has that -- just the fact that it's both important in your lives, has that added to your special relationship with the President both personal and working?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, of course. He's a man of faith and speaks about it and relies on it. And I think, of course, if you're also a person of faith, then it's a very special bond. And he and the First Lady, I've had the pleasure of being in church with them on numerous occasions, particularly when we go up to Camp David and it is a wonderful bonding experience, of course.

QUESTION: Well, we just want to thank you for this service to the nation and thank you for this opportunity to be with you today.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be with you.

QUESTION: God bless you.


Released on June 14, 2006

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