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Bush rewarded by black pastors' faith, and they, in turn, get their own 'reward'



Bishop Sedgwick Daniels of Milwaukee’s Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ buys into Bush’s faith-based initiatives and “values.” Atlanta’s Rev. Timothy McDonald thinks Bush’s program is an attempt to prop up identified black leadership of the GOP’s choosing with government money.

I told you so…a portion of the black religious voting bloc is being shaved off by the Rovian Right’s ploy of political gay-bashing, and the Dems are sitting back and letting it happen. (LATimes):

Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, one of this city’s most prominent black pastors, supported Democrats in past presidential elections, backing Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

This fall, however, the bishop’s broad face appeared on Republican Party fliers in the battleground state of Wisconsin, endorsing President Bush as the candidate who “shares our views.”

What changed?

After Bush’s contested 2000 victory, Daniels felt the pull of a most powerful worldly force: a call from the White House. He conferred with top administration officials and had a visit in 2002 from the president himself. His church later received $1.5 million in federal funds through Bush’s initiative to support faith-based social services.

Daniels’ political conversion, and similar transformations by black pastors across the nation, form a little-known chapter in the playbook of Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign — and may mark the beginning of a political realignment long sought by senior White House advisor Karl Rove and other GOP strategists.

Daniels says it was not the federal money that led him to endorse the Republican candidate last year, but rather the values of Bush and other party leaders who champion church ministries, religious education and moral clarity. It was evidence to many religious African Americans that the GOP could be an appealing home.

The money that flowed to Daniels’ church was part of a broader effort inspired by Bush’s contention that religious groups can do a better job than government in providing such services as counseling, education and drug treatment. In 2003, the administration awarded more than $1 billion to hundreds of faith-based groups, some of which hadn’t received such public funds in the past.

The White House adamantly denies that the faith initiative is a political tool. But the program has provoked criticism that the GOP is seeking to influence new supporters, especially African Americans, with taxpayer funds. The Rev. Timothy McDonald of Atlanta, a prominent black minister with Democratic ties, dubbed the program an “attempt to identify new leadership in the black community and use the money to prop these people up.”

There’s no question that the faith initiative — combined with the administration’s support for banning gay marriage and promoting school vouchers — has already helped reshape Bush’s image among some traditionally Democratic African Americans. And the change in black support on Nov. 2, though only a 2-percentage-point increase nationwide, helped secure Bush’s reelection victory. The gains were greater in battleground states.

As I said in an earlier post on Mel Watt and framing gay rights for this population, the Dems have a roadmap, if they only would get some balls and stop being afraid of mentioning the word G-A-Y. It’s also depressing to see the White House attempt to and succeed at, buying off the black church vote with his phony faith-based initiatives program.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding