Southern Religion

Bush faith-based manipulation failed to increase churches’ social-services

Although the Bush administration’s goal for faith-based initiatives was political manipulation, the program’s failure at the congregational level was not a foregone conclusion. Duke Divinity School’s Mark Chavez, a professor of sociology and religion, performed an important public service in establishing that the program in fact had little impact.

He concluded, wrote Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press, that “the proportions of congregations that provide social services (82 percent of all houses of worship), that have a staff member who devotes at least a quarter of their time to providing social services (11 percent) and that receive government funding for such services (4 percent) did not change between data collected in 1998 and in 2006-2007. In both surveys, about 6 percent of social services performed by congregations were done in collaboration with the government in some form (although not necessarily financial collaboration), while 20 percent were done in collaboration with a secular non-profit agency.”

Everyone was warned before the second Bush term.

John J. DiIulio Jr., a domestic affairs expert and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who resigned in August 2001 as the first head of Bush’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said in 2002:

There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis

David Kuo in an interview about “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction,” a book he wrote about his experience as deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was asked if he were “the one to come up with the idea to use the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for political gain in election campaigns.”

He answered:

Jim Towey (the second director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives) and I did. All the protests to the otherwise are ridiculous and silly. I do not want to get in a tit for tat with the White House. There is a much broader point to Christians about politics. There is this idea, which Christians have perpetuated to Christians, that George W. Bush is, in some way, a pastor-in-chief. His faith is his soul to Christians. It is one of the most inviting things about him. The only problem with that is that he is the President of the United States. He is not a minister. He heads the GOP; he does not head a church. I think Christians have been seduced into thinking otherwise. . . .

That misdirected view helped inspire then-outgoing Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham to do more than accept Bush’s conversion via satellite uplink of the June, 2004, Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting into a political rally. Graham followed up with a tub-thumping stump speech, delivered only partly in the language of a sermon, calling for Southern Baptists to “look up, step up, stand up, wise up and gear up” for the culture wars.

The Bush team wasn’t grateful and did not regard Southern Baptists with respect as a result of their efforts. Conservative political analyst Tucker Carlson reached down to his journalist roots and found a clear characterization of it all for MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in October of 2006:

It goes deeper than that though. The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power.


So it was from Bush’s “faith-based” outset. Use the people of faith while pretending to assist them in helping others. Result was coherent with purpose.


January 8, 2010 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , | Comments Off on Bush faith-based manipulation failed to increase churches’ social-services

Scientology outshrinks the Southern Baptist Convention

In the Scientology/Southern Baptist Convention faceoff, though loathe to admit it, Scientology is winning the race toward extinction.

Whereas the SBC is apparently doomed by demographics to be the slowly shrinking denomination, declining a fraction of a percent in 2006-2007 after a long run of declining growth rates, American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) data suggests that Scientology is imploding. If you agree that 45% shrinkage over less than a decade is implosion.

ARIS reported that in 2001 there were 55,000 adults in the United States who consider themselves Scientologists. In 2008, ARIS found there were 25,000 Americans identifying themselves as Scientologists.

Tommy Davis, the church’s top spokesman, told the New York Times that the number was “impossibly low.”

Or impossible to survive for long?

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Cults | , , | 3 Comments

Veiled reference

A religious exemption has been added to the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences ban face coverings, which had included on veils won by some Muslim women.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Law, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Ugandan Danse Macabre

The Ugandan government says it will ask lawmaker David Bahati to withdraw his gay death-penalty bill, and he says he will refuse.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Crime | , | Comments Off on Ugandan Danse Macabre

Scientology hits the SBC head-on in Nashville

Yes, the Southern Baptist Convention does regard Scientology as a cult.
Indeed, it did so before the ad above was placed with a paid insert this week in the Nashville Tennessean, hometown newspaper of the SBC headquarters.
About that “free personality test,” Baptist Press quite accurately says:

Though named the “Oxford Capacity Analysis,” the 200-question Scientology assessment was not developed by Oxford University nor does it have any tie to the famed university. The Scientology “personality test” is described by various Internet sources as a Scientology recruitment tool used worldwide on Scientology websites, in Scientology churches and in public settings such as fairs and festivals. It also has been criticized by psychologists as not a bonafide personality test.

Scientology isn’t new to Nashville. It has a Nashville Celebrity Center and is active in the community.
Nor is this a new face-off for the SBC North American Mission Board, which has several Web pages devoted to the fight.
Having the Baptist Press chime in this week may mean the SBC Executive Committee is taking the fight more seriously.
Hope so.

H/T Faith & Reason

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Cults, SBC | 1 Comment