Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The White House and politics, part 3

More from Tempting Faith by David Kuo:
White House officials realized they had a problem, former staffer David Kuo writes in his new book, "Tempting Faith," when they saw how a panel rated the first applications for grants under the "faith-based initiative," President Bush's vaunted effort to help religious charities.

On a scale of 1 to 100, respected national organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America scored in the mid-70s to mid-80s, "while something called Jesus and Friends Ministry from California, a group with little more than a post office box," scored 89 and Pat Robertson's overseas aid organization, Operation Blessing, scored 95, according to Kuo.

"It was obvious that the ratings were a farce," he writes, adding that he and other White House aides feared that if the list became public, "it would show once and for all that the initiative was purely about paying off political friends for their support."
. . .
In the case of the grant applications, for example, Kuo says that the ratings obviously favored conservative Christian groups but that the White House "really did have nothing to do with" it. The problem, he asserts, is that the "peer review" panel chosen by the Department of Health and Human Services came from the "faith-based policy world."

"There are, at most, 100 people in think tanks, foundations, major nonprofits and the like who really work on these issues and who support the president. Virtually all of them are very compassionate and dedicated evangelical Christians who tend to be politically conservative," Kuo writes. "They were supposed to review the application in a religiously neutral fashion. . . . But their biases were transparent."

You can read more here.