EVANGELICALS BETRAYED. Every evangelical should read "Why a Christian in the White House Felt Betrayed," a book exerpt in Time magazine (read online) by David Kuo. Kuo is the former deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo's forthcoming book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, tells how he lost faith in the Bush administration from working hopefully inside it. Listen to an extended audio On Point interview with Kuo.
LAUGHING AT EVANGELICALS. Kuo documents broken promises, outright lies, and an attitude of arrogance in regard to evangelicals. Kuo worked hard to "be a good soldier" for the faith-based cause in the White House long after it was apparent that senior Administration staffers were cursing the initiative and laughing about how gullible evangelicals were/are.
LIP SERVICE TO "VALUES". Sadly, Kuo expresses first-hand what I've sensed and tried to articulate from the get-go: George W. Bush and some of his staff may profess a personal faith in Jesus Christ, but they are, above all, cunning politicians for whom power is lord. They give lip service to evangelical concerns and take "values" for a ride to the ballot box...just like the politicians who have gone before and who will follow them.The following Time excerpt from Kuo's book is telling:
Yes, I told the President, because of new regulations there was technically about $8 billion in existing funding that was now more accessible to faith-based groups. But, I assured him, those organizations had been getting money from those programs for years and it wasn't that big a deal.
"Eight billion in new dollars?" he asked.
"No, sir. Eight billion in existing dollars where groups will find it technically easier to apply for grants. But faith-based groups have been getting that money for years."
"Eight billion," he said. "That's what we'll tell them. Eight billion in new funds for faith-based groups. O.K., let's go."
We headed out of the Oval Office, down a flight of stairs and over to the Old Executive Office Building, where the pastors awaited us. The President walked into the room, traded a few jokes and told the group that because of the faith-based initiative, billions of dollars in new funds were now available to faith-based groups like theirs. The pastors listened respectfully. Before the President left, they prayed for him.
Kuo assesses the situation for Evangelicals:
Now I am finding the courage to speak out about God and politics and their dangerous dance. George W. Bush, the man, is a person of profound faith and deep compassion for those who suffer. But President George W. Bush is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works. Millions of evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves--and their interests--better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them.
HUMILITY, REPENTANCE, REASSESSMENT. None of this is cause for satisfaction from any partisan or politically-engaged corner. It is, instead, cause for humility, repentance and reassessment among evangelicals about their relationship to partisan politics and ideologically-sourced power. If they have national social concerns to bring to the table, they need to do so in a way that brings accountability to all elected officials and candidates for political office.