President Bush’s recent praise of Southern Baptists as champions of religious tolerance seemed tarnished in light of anti-Islamic comments made by the Rev. Jerry Vines of Florida during his June 10 address to pastors.

Vines told the audience, “Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives and his last wife was a 9-year-old girl.”

Just one day later in a satellite-broadcasted address, Bush thanked Southern Baptists for their “good works.”

He made no mention of Vines’ remarks during his 12-minute speech.

“Baptists have had an extraordinary influence on American history. They were among the earliest champions of religious tolerance and freedom,” Bush said.

“Throughout history, people of faith have often been our nation’s voice of conscience,” he said. “We all know men and women can be good without faith and also know that faith is an incredibly important source of goodness in our country.”

Bush said, “Faith teaches us to respect those with whom we disagree. It teaches us to tolerate one another. And it teaches us that the proper way to treat human beings in the divine image is with civility.”

The president called Southern Baptists “believers, … patriots, faithful followers of God and good citizens of America. And one day, I believe it will be said of you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servants.'”

It is unclear whether Bush was aware of Vines’ comments about Muhammad, or whether he chose to ignore the remarks. asked the White House if Bush was aware of Vines’ comments and if he agreed with them. The White House did not respond to’s requests for clarification.

Jodi Mathews is communications director for

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