Culture > Q&A

Consumer's choice

"Consumer's choice" Continued...

Issue: "2011 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 17, 2011

When I became involved in the Bush campaign in 1999, some very thoughtful people said I was dumb to think that government can do something useful. I commend "The Duty of Hope," the speech George Bush made in July 1999. It was his first major policy address as a presidential candidate. He said we as a society should look first to private actors. Government's role is secondary or tertiary.

But Bush administration practice fell short of the speech. This is a challenge for conservatives who pursue office: America is not the American government, but once you're in office you run government. Tangling the faith-based initiative in that web was a bad idea.

Compassionate conservatism originally focused on removing the barriers religious groups faced. The idea was the right one. While I served in the last two years of the Bush presidency and traveled the country, many inner-city, faith-based leaders came up to me and said, "Please thank the president." These weren't grantees. These were servants of the Lord. They said, "Before this initiative I was either ignored or discriminated against in society. Now I'm seen as a first responder." That was a culture shift.

Is it shifting it back under Obama? Organizationally, he's kept everything in place: an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives staffed by the White House, but also with staff in a dozen federal agencies.

What has alarmed you? A higher degree of political advocacy-for example, conference calls between the White House and the religious leaders about advocating the health bill.

Listen to a portion of Marvin Olasky's interview with Jay Hein on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

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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