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Atlanta Journal Constitution + Jill Vejnoska

"... a balanced, non-judgmental examination of our most 'openly religious' president at a time of intense debate over religion's place in the national soul. The Bush seen here may startle those who've doubted either the authenticity of his faith-based convictions or his political smarts. What can be difficult sometimes, as 'The Jesus Factor' makes clear, is distinguishing between the two."

TV Guide + Paul Droesch

" … Producer Raney Aronson lays out the Bush religious history and agenda thoughtfully, quietly (nobody screams at anybody) and, perhaps most important, evenhandedly. Neither side in the culture wars will have cause for complaint, and both sides can learn something from it. …

"… Aronson's evenhandedness is most impressive toward the end of the hour, in justaposed comments by [Dr. Richard] Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Rev. James Wallis, the editor of the liberal evangelical magazine Sojourners, on how the president has invoked scripture since the Sept. 11 attacks. …"

The Boston Globe + Sam Allis

"... This solid, linear piece is timely for this year's presidential campaign, and relevant to the Bush messianic mission to graft democracy onto the rest of the world. If it contains no bombshells, tonight's program improves our understanding of the man. ..."

New York Daily News + David Bianculli

"... filmmaker Raney Aronson is impressively open-minded and objective.

"Based on the evidence presented, the same cannot be said of President Bush."

Orlando Sentinel + Hal Boedeker

"A Frontline look at President Bush's faith supplies indispensable information for voters. ...

The program is more timely than ever because of Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack, with its revelation that Bush consulted his heavenly father and not his earthly one about war on Iraq. …

"'The Jesus Factor' offers enough to cheer Bush's supporters and enough to worry his detractors."

The Commercial Appeal + Memphis, Tom Walter

"You hardly need to point out the huge number of evangelicals in Memphis. They will applaud parts of this documentary, and argue with other parts. The same goes for nonevangelicals. Don't expect domestic tranquility when people discuss this program. ...

"'The Jesus Factor' nicely outlines the events leading to Bush's acceptance of Jesus as his personal savior in 1985. It also does not question his sincerity. But the program also makes the point that his religious views inevitably enter policy and political calculations."

The New York Times + Alessandra Stanley

"'The Jesus Factor' is a little like those illustrated anatomy books where transparent plastic pages can be flipped to reveal the muscle, bone and organs beneath the skin. Stripping off the layers of patrician pedigree, Yale and his Texas business pursuits, the documentary lays bare Mr. Bush's spiritual conversion and its consequences.

"It is not a disrespectful look. ...

"'The Jesus Factor' is an enlightening look at the president and the electoral clout of evangelical Christians. But one drawback of focusing so intently on Mr. Bush's faith is that it screens out other perhaps equally important factors, like political expediencies, personality quirks and clashing interests, that inevitably influence decision making in the Oval Office."

Los Angeles Times + Carina Chocano

"An analytical, decidedly secular look at the roots, causes and effects of the president's religious beliefs, 'The Jesus Factor' should have one of two effects: It will either treat you to a nice tank of vitriol for your next call in to Rush's show, or it will scare the daylights out of you."

Wall Street Journal + Dorothy Rabinowitz

"The latest 'Frontline' entry -- called 'The Jesus Factor' -- isn't quite as shrill as that title implies. It is, in fact, frequently compelling in its effort to trace the roots of George W. Bush's faith and his capacity to speak the language of Evangelical Christians. Even more interesting, though, are commentators from the liberal clergy, who charge that President Bush neglected to point to our own misdeeds before charging our enemies with evil after 9/11 - an argument that tells more about them than it does about the president."

Arkansas Democrate Gazette + Michael and Celia Storey

"… a fairly straightforward, balanced recounting of Bush's journey from his personal low point in the mid-1980s to the White House."

Seattle Times + Kay McFadden

"Although Bush's habit of framing foreign relations in terms of good versus evil is cited, 'The Jesus Factor' stops short of probing precisely how the president's outlook has shaped the war in Iraq. That's a rather big omission.

"Nonetheless, producer Raney Aronson weaves together many fascinating tidbits through interviews with the president's friends, foes and observers. Viewers may form their own conclusions."

Chattanooga Times Free Press

" 'Jesus' suggests that Bush may be the most openly religious president in generations and offers several sound bites to back that up. But 'Jesus' fails to discuss the religious appeal and rhetoric of other presidents."

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posted april 29, 2004

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