October 13th, 2006

Bush Using Christians

tempting faith

MSNBC is carrying an article (CNSNews offers an opposing perspective) discussing a forthcoming book titled Tempting Faith. The author is David Kuo, who served as special assistant to the president from 2001 to 2003 in the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.

From the article:

[The author] says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as “the nuts.”

“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 writes.

Part of me can’t help but wonder if President Bush and his cronies feel this way about President Hinckley. The two recently met at church headquarters to discuss who knows what.

Olbermann offers his view on the subject:

Olbermann: “Kuo’s bottom line? The Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians for suckers.”

I’ve assumed this all along. Politicians will go to great lengths to court the vote of a bloc in society. In the early days of the church the members shifted back and forth between the Democratic and Whig parties based on whose candidate could offer them the protection they so direly needed. Referring to this situation, Richard Bushman writes:

Their single issue was protection from mobs… Mormons voted for the good of the Church, not for personal interest, so the huge Mormon vote, a majority in Hancock County, pivoted on this single factor. Mormons swung back and forth, tipping this way and that depending on extradition writs, militia threats, and attacks on the charter. (Rough Stone Rolling, p. 509)

Like the politicians sympathetic to the Mormons in the 1830s and 40s, the Republicans today have long enjoyed the support of the “right-wing” evangelical base. These voters have come to see the GOP as a group that represents and supports their ideals and beliefs. Not so, purports Kuo’s upcoming book. Based on Kuo’s claims, Bush’s administration has, for quite some time, been usurping the support of these voters, promising much but giving almost nothing in return. As the Washington Post reports:

Even a small shift in the loyalty of conservative Christian voters could spell trouble for the GOP this fall. In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the “God gap” in politics is shrinking.

A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.

Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a “favorable” impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent, according to Pew polls.

In the latest survey, taken in the last 10 days of September and the first four days of October, the percentage of evangelicals who think that Republicans govern “in a more honest and ethical way” than Democrats has plunged to 42 percent, from 55 percent at the start of the year.

The Republicans are losing their voting base. The GOP is going to be creamed come this election. Expect to see Bush continue to use fearmongering as a tactic to scare voters into submission on increasing executive powers and justification for the ongoing disaster in Iraq. The polar “good vs. evil” mantra will be used to conjure up the mental image that we’re the good guys fighting against the bad guys, thus facilitating ignorant evangelical voters to picture Bush as a world hero spreading truth and liberty across the globe.

When Bush starts practicing what he preaches, then he might win back some respect and support of the voting bloc that has supported him for so long. I won’t hold my breath.

11 Responses to “Bush Using Christians”

  1. fontor
    October 13, 2006 at 10:52 am #

    But evangelical Christian leaders are nuts.

    How is Bush able to keep them hanging on? Simple. He talks about God. My Dad loved Reagan. He didn’t know about Reagan’s policies, but he knew that Reagan talked the talk.

    Bush also throws out religious-flavoured proposals like the Defense of Marriage Act. If it passes, the religious groups are happy. If not, he can claim he tried, and then bash away at liberals, further rallying the Christian base. It’s brilliant.

    It sounds like a fascinating book.

  2. Connor
    October 13, 2006 at 10:56 am #

    Actually, the Defense of Marriage Act was Clinton’s doing. Bush has supported similar legislative actions as well.

  3. fontor
    October 13, 2006 at 10:59 am #

    Ooo, got me!

    They say Clinton was the nation’s best Republican president. And Nixon was the best Democrat.

  4. Doc
    October 13, 2006 at 12:57 pm #

    It is interesting to me how many in the US can write of Hugo Chavez as a populist loonie and insist Bush is sincere when they both use the same methodology. Both give speeches you might expect from a preacher. Both have laden their speeches full of religious imagery. Both are near saints in the eyes of their countries true believers.

    That said, there are a significant faction of the liberal side that fear religion propels Bush into his mistakes and his I can do no wrong arrogance. How else could the man refuse so many valid criticisms with a straight face?

    Somedays I really don’t know which is scarier, Bush the true believer or Bush the cynical manipulator.

  5. Robert
    October 13, 2006 at 10:11 pm #

    I enjoyed seeing this topic posted on Connor’s blog. Frankly, I resented the religious gaining so much power. I believe they used the pulpit to push a right-wing Republican agenda. You see ministers in large congregations expousing partisian politics from the pulpit. One minister has a tax-exempt television program which he used to attack the Clinton administration. There isn’t even an attempt at fairness.

    I am delighted to see the negative attitudes of Bush’s aides become public. I hope it makes the fundamentalist ministers who want to force their agenda on America reflect on their close relationship with the president. And, when they are involved in sexual scandal, I always think it’s the Lord’s work. What are the odds a man would be stopped twice by the police in a prostitution bust? And that man still has a television evangelist ministry!!!

    For me, I resent church’s using their tax exempt status while becoming heavily involved in politics. Other political action groups have to follow strick guidelines. Also, I resent going to church and have the sermon turned into some anti-death penalty lecture. Let them stick to the readings and chose a topic that relates to those readings!

  6. Jettboy
    October 15, 2006 at 2:43 pm #

    I don’t know if this is true or not. Frankly, I don’t believe it (two or three witnesses thing and all) as I don’t believe very many “tell all” books. It doesn’t really matter.

    Let’s assume this is true. I know many Christians (and Mormons for that matter) don’t care one way or another. What they care about is if the Politician is giving them what they want. Doesn’t matter how many names they are called or who is calling them those names; as long as someone is doing things for them.

    I just find is so funny how all the Liberals are trying really hard to make is sound like Christians and Conservatives should vote differently than they have for a long time. I point out this blog and the one at BCC about kicking “the bum Republicans” out. What a JOKE! The best things like this are going to do, and the opposition is counting on it, is give the Christians and Conservatives pause about voting at all. They certainly aren’t going to vote for people they believe hate everything they stand for and make or not make laws to back that up.

    My prediction this Nov.? Republicans keep all three Houses with perhaps a slightly less majority. If I am wrong? Two years from Nov. will see one of the greatest Repub. turnouts since the mid 90s.

  7. Curtis
    October 15, 2006 at 3:37 pm #

    Please don’t compare Bush to Chavez. What an insult to Chavez! Chavez has (unlike Bush) done major work in his country for the good of his people. That’s why he has at least a 60% approval rating among voters while Bush is close to 30%. Chavez is the greatest leader in the world right now if you ask me.

  8. Connor
    October 15, 2006 at 4:20 pm #

    What they care about is if the Politician is giving them what they want.

    Is Bush giving you what you want? Around 650,000 dead Iraqis, a new Military Commissions Act, Patriot Act(1 and 2), a quagmire of a war, and the Security and Prosperity Partnership are what I don’t want, yet what we have as a result of this presidency. I most certainly wouldn’t vote Democrat, but I do believe that much of our congress (and all of our presidency) needs to be cleansed from the inside out. Time to start fresh. New people, much less lobbying, and integrity. Again, I’m not holding my breath…

  9. Connor
    October 15, 2006 at 4:35 pm #

    Chavez is trying to break hold of the corrupt world banks that have thrown his and other Latin American countries far into debt. The Interational Monetary Fund and the World Bank are the main culprits in squeezing the vice and keeping these countries in poverty. And because he’s trying to break free and rally other countries around his object and purpose, those in control with power are painting him as an evil dictator. I’m not saying he’s the most ideal of leaders, but don’t be so quick to believe everything the news portrays about him…

  10. Jettboy
    October 16, 2006 at 11:03 am #

    Connor, your blinded by the single Issue of Iraq. Conservatives don’t focus so much on the war other than perhaps they AGREE with those things you listed as “bad.” We wouldn’t have them if someone didn’t agree with them.

    However, there are other things – including TWO Conservative minded Supreme Court judges, tackling homosexuality, fighting abortion (even if nothing more than vetoing anything to do with stem cell research, and generally showing public respect for conservative religion). What has the Democratic Left done for the Relligious Right? The very opposite of anything they have every wanted and believed.

  11. Connor
    October 16, 2006 at 11:09 am #

    Connor, your blinded by the single Issue of Iraq. Conservatives don’t focus so much on the war other than perhaps they AGREE with those things you listed as “bad.”

    I am a conservative. I am not blinded by just Iraq. However, this war has been used as a powerful tool to allow the executive to propel his desire to retain and increase indomitable power.

    I agree with the importance of “tackling” homosexuality and fighting abortion, and will side with legislation that deals with these problems—but one only needs read 3 Nephi 6-9 to understand what is happening in these days to destroy our nation and sovereignty. Homosexuality and abortion are evil, pernicious sins, but there are other things happening that will erode our liberties much quicker.

    I find it humorous that some people have come to label me as not being conservative. Let me state once and for all that I do consider myself very conservative. However, I do also read the scriptures, and they clearly outline the corruption, conspiracy, and secret combinations that will take place (and is taking place) in our day. Pointing these things out, believing they exist, and being outspoken against them does not preclude me from being a conservative. In fact, I would argue that conservatism includes the fight against bloated, corrupt government.

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