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Bush's faith-based cash keeps flowing

One of the infamous black pastors on the faith-based tip: President Bush with Sedgwick Daniels, whose church got $1.4 million from the government. Photo: Morry Gash/AP

The WaPo has a lengthy article on the administration shell-out of cash grants to socially conservative religious organizations and non-profits. The hungry fundie hogs have slopped up $157 million in grants.

Among other new beneficiaries of federal funding during the Bush years are groups run by Christian conservatives, including those in the African American and Hispanic communities. Many of the leaders have been active Republicans and influential supporters of Bush’s presidential campaigns.

Programs such as the Compassion Capital Fund, under the Health and Human Services, are designed to support religion-based social services, a goal that inevitably funnels money to organizations run by people who share Bush’s conservative cultural agenda.

One wishes that Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Wade F. Horn and other Bushies had Pinnochio’s noses when the notion that that the allocation of grants by the administration might be political is raised.

Horn and other officials said politics has not played a role in making grants. “Whoever got these grants wrote the best applications, and the panels in rating these grants rated them objectively, based on the criteria we published in the Federal Register,” he said. “Whether they support the president or not is not a test in any of my grant programs.”

…H. James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said politics plays no role in grant-making decisions. “We don’t have that kind of calculation,” he said.

Jamie-Andrea Yanak/Associated Press
The article also notes that Pat Robertson‘s Operation Blessing took in $23.5 million, and five organizations run by black and Hispanic leaders who endorsed Bush have received more than $2 million each from the administration’s “compassion fund.” The abstinence-ed and anti-choice folks get to belly up to the bar as well.

The Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center in Madisonville, Ky., a small outfit of four part-time employees committed “to the belief in the sanctity of human life, primarily as it relates to the protection of the unborn,” operated on an annual budget of $75,000 to $79,000, most of it raised from an annual banquet and a “walk for life.” Last year, Door of Hope got an abstinence education grant of $317,017, allowing it to hire staff and expand.

In Dyersburg, Tenn., the Life Choices Pregnancy Support Center, where the staff believes “without reservation or qualification that the Scriptures teach that human life begins at conception,” had revenue of $81,621 and could pay Executive Director Natalie Wilson $12,247 in 2001. Two years later, the center got a $534,339 grant for abstinence education. By 2004, annual revenue totaled $617,355.

Bishop Sedgwick, pictured at the top of the post (and ready to tap dance for The Man), of Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee, was awarded $626,598 in 2003 and $824,471 in 2004 from the Compassion Capital Fund. Daniels is a strong supporter of Dear Leader — he was a 2004 Republican National Convention delegate. A little more on how Sedgwick was turned on by Bu$$$h.

In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for example, Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, one of the “city’s most prominent black pastors,” who supported both Bill Clinton and Al Gore in past presidential elections, switched to Bush. His “face appeared on Republican Party fliers in the battleground state of Wisconsin,” and he endorsed President Bush “as the candidate who ‘shares our views.’” Two weeks before the election Bishop Daniels “turned over the pulpit to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, one of Bush’s most prominent African American advocates.”

“We know what faith-based can do every single day,” Steele told the congregation, drawing head nodding and remarks of “yes” and “Amen” from more than 1,000 in the vast sanctuary.

The Times also reported that Bishop Daniels met “with top administration officials” and also met with “the president himself.” Later, his church received $1.5 million in federal funds through Bush’s faith-based initiative.

This gravy train won’t end any time soon. What kind of oversight is there in these programs? Is the money actually going to help people in need or to line pious pastor pockets, build churches and organize partisan politicking from the pulpit and “get-out-the-GOP-vote” campaigns?

* posts on black pastors and faith-based buyouts
* Securing the homeland on a wing and a prayer: Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Homeland Security

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding