Friday, October 13, 2006

The GOP's Faith-Based Get-Out-the-Evangelical-Vote Program

Ethics Daily and Associated Baptist Press have both published stories about revelations that the White House has been using its faith-based initiative as a program to get-out-the-evangelical-vote.

The reports stem from advance information about former White House official David Kuo's soon to be released book, "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction."

Here's an excerpt from Associated Baptist Press:

From 2001 to 2003, Kuo served as the number-two person in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. According to MSNBC, the book includes charges that high-ranking White House officials referred to prominent conservative Christian leaders as "nuts" behind their backs, used the faith-based office to organize ostensibly non-political events that in reality were designed to boost Republican candidates in tough elections and favored religious charities friendly to the administration when doling out grant money.

"National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Kuo wrote. He added that top political officials in White House aide Karl Rove's office referred to the leaders as "the nuts."

He described conference calls and meetings that White House officials regularly held with conservative Christian leaders, such as James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals. While Bush officials would assure such leaders that the White House was pushing their concerns, Kuo said, the advice the leaders gave was rarely followed.
Here's an excerpt from Ethics Daily:

According to MSNBC, the White House placated politically ambitious religious leaders with trinkets like cufflinks and weekly conference calls, while adviser Karl Rove derisively called them "nuts" behind their backs.

Kuo says the administration broke promises for faith-based funding and tax credits year after year, while turning the bipartisan faith-based initiative into a political operation.

The office not only discriminated against non-Christians, he says, but in 2002 decided to hold "roundtable events" that were supposed to be non-partisan but in reality were targeted to help vulnerable incumbents win favor with faith and community leaders.

Kuo claims the White House devised a cover-up for the operation, running it from congressional offices instead of campaigns, so it wouldn't look too political.

The president, meanwhile, Kuo claims, lied to evangelicals about pouring new money into faith-based programs, viewing their potential to "evangelize" voters.
Here's an excerpt from the MSNBC report:

In fact, when Bush asks Kuo how much money was being spent on "compassion" social programs, Kuo claims he discovered the amount was $20 million a year less than during the Clinton Administration.

The money that was appropriated and disbursed, however, often served a political agenda, Kuo claims, with organizations friendly to the administration often winning grants.

More pointedly, Kuo quotes an unnamed member of the review panel charged with rating grant applications as saying she stopped looking at applications from "those non-Christian groups," as did many of her colleagues.

1 comment:

grandma1 said...

You look more like your father every day.