We now have it from a reputable source that the Bush team, led by who else but Karl Rove, exploited the credulity of Christian fundamentalists to further Republican political ambitions while behind their back, scorning them as "nuts," "ridiculous," and "boorish." One wonders how the likes of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, and their Christian followers feel knowing the Bush White House holds them in derision. My bet? Per usual, they're in complete denial and will pretend it never happened.
Most of the time we feel sorry for those who have been duped. However, not in this case. The holier-than-thou crowd got scammed with the same scheme they use on their own followers. Fundamentalism’s faith-based thinking conditions its adherents for just this kind of con job. Their faith says, "don't think, just believe and obey." Or as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Lean not on your own understanding.” Skepticism and critical thinking are anathema.
What the Christian fundamentalists wanted from Bush was legislation to impose their particular theologically-driven dogma. To their delight, Bush talked up their divisive hot-button issues, but only to ensnare his naïve flag-waiving Republican puppeteers. It was the consummate church-state roll in the hay.
But the archangel Gabriel sent a whistle-blower named David Kuo, former deputy director of Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and author of the new book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. As Kuo tells it, this authoritarian Christian cabal thought it had it made -- a betrothal with the Bush White House that agreed with their Christian values and promise to pump federal money into their faith-based coffers.
Kuo describes a jaundiced relationship between enterprising “men of the cloth” and Bush’s chief political strategist, Karl Rove. The Bush staff "knew the nuts were politically invaluable, but that was the extent of their usefulness." Kuo accuses Karl Rove and others in the Bush administration of "cynically hijacking the faith-based initiatives idea for electoral gain," ignoring issues such as poverty, and limiting faith-based grants to organizations that are "politically friendly to the administration."
Kuo continues, "Sadly, the political affairs folks complained most often and most loudly about how boorish many politically involved Christians were . . . National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs as ridiculous, out of control, or goofy.”
Kuo describes the creation of the faith-based initiative. "Karl Rove summoned [Don] Willett [a former Bush aide from Texas who initially shepherded the program] to his office to announce that the entire faith-based initiative would be rolled out the following Monday. Willett asked just how without a director, staff, office, or plan the president could do that. Rove looked at him, took a deep breath, and said, 'I don't know. Just get me a f***ing faith-based thing. Got It?'" Once the office had funding, the process of handing out grants was marred by political motivation and religious discrimination. "Many of the grant-winning organizations that rose to the top of the process were politically friendly to the administration," Kuo writes. And one member of the grant review panel told him "with a giggle," "When I saw one of those non-Christian groups in the set I was reviewing, I just stopped looking at them and gave them a zero. A lot of us did." Kuo's revelations confirm the findings of a recent Government Accounting Office report.
Kuo is no liberal in disguise. His conservative Christian credentials are authentic; he worked worked with former Sen. Jack Kemp (R-NY), prominent conservative activist Bill Bennett, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Kuo’s departure follows that of another disillusioned Christian Bush appointee. John J. Dilulio quit the Faith-Based White House office seven months after his 2001 appointment, later stating, "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one . . . What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
Kuo told CBS’s Lesley Stahl, "God and politics had become very much fused together into a sort of a single entity. Where, in a way, politics was the fourth part of the trinity. God the father, God the son, God the holy spirit, God the politician." Catholic and Protestant fundamentalist types received some crumbs off the table through their flirtations from Bush. Restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and several judicial appointments were their rewards.
Yet, the prized efforts to ban abortion and homosexual marriage got put on the shelf. The promises of money to religious charities evaporated. Kuo claims Bush’s promise of $8 billion per year dissipated over five years to a measly $60 million, less then 1% of the total promised.
As expected, the White House and right wing Christians came back with guns blazing to malign Kuo pleading total innocence. How brazen of Kuo to suggest hypocrisy from this White House. But isn't that just what they did with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil's book The Price of Loyalty and White House Terrorism expert Richard Clarke, security advisor under four presidents and his book, Against All Enemies?
Kuo's book confirms further Republican duplicity with the Foley congressional page scandal. Surprise! The self-proclaimed moral, anti-gay, family values Republicans have homosexuals on the GOP congressional staff, homosexuals in the Bush Cabinet staff, and homosexuals in the White House. Interestingly, over a year ago a gay Republican warned Speaker Hastert of Foley’s foul behavior. Oh no, Republicans would never cover up such heinous behavior! It’s the Democrats fault!
The Abramoff lobbying scandal, House leader Tom DeLay’s indictment and forced resignation, and Republican Congressmen Bob Ney and Duke Cunningham’s imprisonment displayed the tip of Republican corruption. You’d think some of these Christians would have questioned how they ever fell in with such a bad crowd, but then “faith” cannot let facts get in the way of what is supposed to be believed.
The church/state “roll in the hay” has now backfired. These right-wing fundamentalist Christians are now getting their reward for electing a modern day Beelzebul (Hugo Chavez said, "devil,” maybe we should call him "Beelzebush").
“If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household . . . for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known . . . shout it from the rooftops” (Mt 10:25-27). Thank you Mr. Kuo!
November 7th will reveal if this right wing fundamentalist branch of Christianity chooses to repent of their spiritual fornication.
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