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Should the saints go marching out?

"Should the saints go marching out?" Continued...

Issue: "Too close to call," Oct. 28, 2006

A third reason should not be overlooked: Publishers would not pay much for only a Kuo spiritual memoir, but books with Bush-bashing lines bring big advances. Kuo would not state the exact size of his advance for the book but said "it is commensurate with what I made in public service. No, it is slightly more." He added, "To all those who say I am doing this for financial gain, I find it ironic that they are making nice salaries themselves, enabling them to make that criticism."

Others, of course, have their own agendas:

  • Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, obviously wants to sell books. Kuo signed a contract last year to produce a book for publication in the first quarter of 2007, but the company-with Kuo's consent-shrewdly moved up publication to present an October surprise that would yield anti-Bush buzz. Nine pages of publicity materials accompanying Tempting Faith do not quote anything from the spiritual/political autobiography that makes up the first half of the book.
  • The liberal press agenda in pushing the book is clear, as it was clear regarding the relentless reporting of Rep. Foley's disgrace: Suppress the Christian conservative vote. Kuo's revelation that some Bush staffers called certain Christian leaders "ridiculous" and "goofy" helps in that process, as does Kuo's over-the-top proposal that Christians take a two-year "fast" from politics.
  • Bush administration staffers last week attacked the book, and Kuo asks rhetorically, "Is the White House using this to mobilize Christian conservatives by showing how much the 'liberals' are out to get them? Absolutely. They see this as a great opportunity to stir up the controversy necessary to mobilize blasé evangelicals."

Kuo in our interview noted a typical reaction to criticism by some Bush staffers and their supporters: "Saying anything negative in any way against GWB wasn't just bad taste or wasn't just the wrong thing for me to do (lack of loyalty) but a sort of heresy." Last week Jason T. Christy, publisher of The Church Report, called Kuo "an addition to the Axis of Evil" who "is being used to try and prop up the liberal left, to breathe life into lifeless campaigns and his master literary work is a mere smokescreen. Questioning the faith and motivation of this administration is wrong."

Others have been more nuanced in their critiques. Stanley Carlson-Thies, who worked alongside Kuo in the White House faith-based office, commented, "Whatever the political dimensions and shenanigans, the Bush faith-based initiative is part of a large movement that began before the Bush administration, will continue when a new president is sitting in the Oval Office, has global counterparts, and is vital for effective social assistance. . . . It is tragic to trivialize the important work that has been done."

And Kuo will probably not gain much support for his proposal that Christians withdraw from politics for two years. Asked why he did not instead call for increased discernment, he said, "The fast isn't to say don't vote." He emphasized instead the need to contribute more thoughtfully: "$200 million has gone to the RNC [Republican National Committee] alone this year-almost all of it from small-dollar donors, good men and women (probably Christian) who are wanting to do just the right thing, but what is it buying us?"

Christians need to be discerning and to accentuate biblical ways of helping widows and orphans. But the irony of Kuo's critique of political idolatry is that, if followed fully, it would increase the power of those who are the most idolatrous. If the saints go marching out, others will march in unimpeded.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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