David Kuo, former assistance director of the Faith Based Initiative, and self-described conservative Christian, has written a book which claims that the Bush administration has been using Christian conservatives to gain votes, while actually ridiculing them as "nuts" and using Faith Based funds for campaigning and political propaganda instead of for charity programs.
I must say that I am not surprised at all. In fact, I have told friends for years that I thought the Bush administration comprised the most atheists that have ever been in the White House. Perhaps it takes one to know one, but pretty much everyone on the Bush cabinet struck me as pragmatic atheists from the beginning, especially Rove, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, even Cheney, and of course many of the other neo-cons. Neo-conservatism is a branch of thought that emerged from ex-Marxists after World War II. The founders of neo-conservatism were atheists. I mentioned this in my 2005 article on religious criticism in Western civilization, stating:
After his change from Marxist to extreme anti-Marxist, [Sydney] Hook became one of the ideological founders of American neo-conservatism. Many of the other neo-conservatives, including members of the current Bush administration, are known to have at least been atheists at some time. Their current views on religion are well guarded however.
I also covered the fundamental issue of Republicans using and abusing the Religious Right for economic and political gain in my 2004 article on contradictions within the American conservatism:
Again and again Christian "conservatives" seem to be coming out in defense of the most corrupt elements of American society, of widespread corporate corruption and increasing assaults on the environment and small businesses.
Here is a clue: abortion is here to stay. Conservatives can vote for Republicans forever, but abortion is going nowhere. Don't conservatives realize that Republicans use the abortion issue to string them along to get votes that are used instead to support corporate corruption and economic policy that promotes an ever more competitive and exploitive marketplace, where violent video games, porn, and sexual music continue to thrive because, guess what, it makes money!
The Christian conservatives are used and abused by corporate America to get support for its exploitive policies that the rest of the country refuses to back. The Christian Right shouldn't really want to back these policies either, but they have been duped into doing so. How can Christian "conservatives" continue to vote in a way that primarily supports Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans when according to the Bible Jesus Christ said that "the meek shall inherit the earth," and "I tell you the truth, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Yes, I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
Christian conservatives are never going to achieve any true political success in America because they have formed a political and ideological alliance with a group that stands for the opposite of conservative goals, and its all about the money. Conservatives oppose social change, but the group they are allied with is the main group that is causing the types of social changes that they oppose, so they just continue to get frustrated and can't figure out why all of this political effort that they have put in for the past 20 years seems to be going nowhere. Conservatives may "win issues", they may be successful in getting various measures passed, but these measures don't have the impact on society that the conservatives are hoping for.
Its for a very obvious reason, its because the group they are allied with has ended up working against them at every turn. Sure, they keep pointing the finger back at "the liberals," but all you have to do is follow the money trail. The money trail leads straight to corporate America, who walked off with the piggy bank, while the Christian "conservatives" stood guard.
MSNBC also covered the book recently, saying:
In fact, Christians who voted for Mr. Bush based on his religion, may have ended up hurting the very people Jesus sought to help: the poor.
But when Senator Chuck Grassley tried to rewrite Mr. Bush's 1.7 trillion dollar tax cut to include six billion in tax credits for groups helping the poor — tax credits that Mr. Bush himself had publicly proposed — Kuo says Bush's assistant told Grassley to drop the charity tax credits. The White House had no interest.
The cuts Mr. Bush did want made things worse for charities.
Kuo claims that the estate tax cuts discouraged charitable giving, costing charities an estimated 5 billion dollars.
The ultimate impact of Mr. Bush's tax cuts, he says, was to brutalize the very charities Mr. Bush once identified as his top priorities. After only a year, charitable donations were down dramatically, and some charities had shut down.
In The War Is About So Much More, written in 2003, I noted the following in regard to Bush's annoounced plan to make it easier to claim charitable decuctions for non-itemizing filers :
This comment is an insult and a slap in the face. Firstly, it is well documented that the estate tax is a major proponent of charitable giving; it is estimated that over 12% of all charitable giving nationwide is influenced by the estate tax. If he wants to promote charitable giving then keeping the estate tax is a fine way to do it. Secondly, it is well known that virtually all of the people that do not itemize are lower income Americans. Virtually every wealthy American itemizes and already takes full advantage of the write-offs for charity. So, what Bush's plan is really saying is that he intends for America's poor and middle class to give more to charity. Gee thanks George. And where will these billions of dollars come from that the poor and middle class will be so happy to give away in order to get meager tax breaks? It is also already well documented that the poor and middle class give a disproportionately larger amount of their income to charity than the wealthy. On average, poor families donate the largest portion of their income to charity already, and yet Bush is proposing a plan that says he wants to encourage the poor to give more?
What may be useful is that more poor and middle class families could be able to take advantage of deductions for the charitable giving habits that they already have in order to reduce their taxable income, but this certainly won't help the tax collection situation and also shouldn't be seen as a way to try and induce the least wealthy segment of society, who already donates the largest portion of their income to charity, to give more.
Look at what is really happening. By taking away the estate tax donations by the wealthy can be expected to be reduced, and to make up for this he is proposing a plan that will attempt to encourage the poor and middle class to donate more. That's outrageous.
This is the biggest problem that I have with religious people, they set themselves up to be taken advantage of, but in a democracy its not just them that gets hurt, we all do. All that Christians do by insisting on spreading and believing in their views, is blind themselves to reality, which means that they will never be able to truly be happy because they are constantly going to be taken advantage of and misled. Their only happiness lies in their delusion.
I also believe that there are basically two types of atheists in this world, those that oppose religion because it is false and misleading, and those that support religion as a means to control and manipulate the public. I believe that governments around the world today, and historically, have been dominated by the second type of atheists, who, ironically, are the ones supported by the religious public!
I would not be surprised at all if the Bush administration were filled with non-religious people who view religion as a tool for political and economic gain, which is perhaps even more unsettling than people who actually believe in religion, because at least they have some good intentions, whereas those seeking to use religion as a tool have no altruistic purposes, or at least it seems unlikely.
I don't know what the real religious beliefs of the people in the White House are, but I have long suspected that they are not true believers, but instead are just using religion for political, and thus economic, gain.