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Kuo on the Right: 'it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics'

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“I have this burden on my heart that the name of God is just being destroyed in the name of politics. I felt like I had to write this…People are being manipulated. Good well-meaning people are being told, ‘Send your money to this Christian advocacy group or that.’ And that’s the answer. It’s just not the answer. It’s not the answer.”
— David Kuo, on 60 Minutes, author of Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, on the use of the use and abuse of fundamentalists by the White House

Oh, it’s too good, and a completely necessary act, thankfully taken by someone on the inside. You have to check out the Crooks & Liars video from 60 Minutes. David Kuo, the evangelical Christian and former number two at the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives blasted the phony, bible-beating Bush Administration away in an interview with Lesley Stahl.

Here is some of the transcript, where he explains how the White House laughed at the fundies who darkened their door, lobbying for the President to give them what they wanted on the “moral values” agenda.

Asked if that was really the attitude, Kuo tells Stahl, “Oh, absolutely. You name the important Christian leader and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places.”

Specifically, Kuo says people in the White House political affairs office referred to Pat Robertson as “insane,” Jerry Falwell as “ridiculous,” and that James Dobson “had to be controlled.” And President Bush, he writes, talked about his compassion agenda, but never really fought for it.

Kuo believed that Bush really meant that this office would address issues of poverty and fund religious charities to do so, taking him at his word during the 2000 campaign that a “compassion agenda” was on its way. He was very wrong.

After the election, to much fanfare, President Bush created the office of faith-based initiatives to increase funds to religious charities.

But Kuo says there were problems right off the bat. For one, he says the office dropped very quickly down the list of priorities.

Asked how much money finally went to them, Kuo says laughing, “Oh, in the first two years, first two years I think $60 million.”

“When you hold it up to a promise of $8 billion, I don’t know how good I am at math, but I know that’s less than one percent of a promise,” says Kuo.

Kuo, welcome to the Bush era of initiatives without funding (but plenty of tax cuts).

It gets better — Kuo not only unloads on the Bush Admin, he turns his barrels on the hypocritical fundies, who didn’t seem to have the poor on their agenda either:

Part of the problem, he says, was indifference from “the base,” the religious right. He took 60 Minutes to a convention of evangelical groups – his old stomping ground – and walked around the display booths, looking for any reference to the poor.

You’ve got homosexuality in your kid’s school, and you’ve got human cloning, and partial birth abortion and divorce and stem cell,” Kuo remarked. “Not a mention of the poor.”

This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda – as if this culture war is a war for God. And it’s not a war for God, it’s a war for politics. And that’s a huge difference,” says Kuo

Of course the White House is pissed and is scrambling to discredit Kuo’s book, the problem is that Kuo knows where the bodies are buried on this one.

The White House calls Kuo’s book “ridiculous,” and Kuo’s old boss, Jim Towey, who ran the faith based office until this past June says Kuo is “naïve and simplistic.”

“I think it’s dangerous to take a snapshot of a few months or even a year and draw conclusions,” Towey says. “Ya know, I can look you in the eye and say the president did what he could do.” Kuo says Towey and the White House were embarrassed when the Washington Post ran an article in September 2002 saying they were using the faith office to woo voters, even though the president had repeatedly pledged it was not political.

The White House shot down the Washington Post story, but now Kuo reveals it was all true, and what’s more – he’s the one who thought up the idea.

“This is your idea to tie this office, that was supposed to be non-partisan, you come up with this idea to tie it to the campaign?” Stahl asks.

“Uh-huh,” Kuo affirms. “I want this initiative to work.”

Related:
* Beltway GOP: evangelicals are ‘nuts, ridiculous, out of control’

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding