Republican Religious Boondoggle

The crass Republican exploitation of religion for material gain continues apace.  Today's Chicago Tribune today reports that government handouts to religious groups are increasing at a phenomenal rate.

In his 2007 budget proposal, Bush is seeking $323 million for [The White House's Compassion Capital Fund], 36 percent more than the $236 million allocated this year, while the funding of many government agencies is cut.

In addition, five federal agencies--including the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services--increased their grants to faith-based groups to $1.334 billion in 2004, up 14 percent from the year before. Combined with grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Agriculture, the overall spending for faith-based initiatives in 2004 surpassed $2 billion.

When Bush on Thursday addresses a White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, expected to draw 1,500 people, he will report that spending in 2005 set a new record as well.

The Republican courting of religious groups is nothing but a ploy to manipulate honest religious people so that Republicans can loot the Treasury.  Republicans continue to act with no compassion when it really matters while, at the same time, they hand their friends millions of taxpayer dollars that were meant to help protect Americans.

...the federal government has become a major source of money for Operation Blessing, [Pat] Robertson's international charity, under the Bush initiative. In two years, the group's annual revenue from government grants has ballooned from $108,000 to $14.4 million.

That Republicans are manipulating evangelicals and other religious people for personal gain is no secret.  Talk of it can be found even in conservative Christian magazines.

This week's executive order establishing an office to funnel taxpayer money out of the Department of Homeland Security and into the pockets of Republican supports is yet another example of how Republicans are selling out America for their personal benefit.

Democrats need to break the silence on this issue and put a stop to Republican programs that destroy our ability to protect protect ourselves in time of need.  It's time to put into office people whose interests are the same as ours, not those of Jack Abramoff and George W. Bush.

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Faith Based Homeland Security

While everyone was waiting with baited breath for the election returns from yesterday's Texas primaries, President Bush was busy doing the people's business.  Namely, issuing an executive order establishing a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Homeland Security.  To wit:

Sec. 2. Purpose of Center. The purpose of the Center shall be to coordinate agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services.

My first response to this was disbelief.  What does Bush's "faith based initiatives" have to do with Homeland Security?  There are serious problems in DHS that have come to light, most recently, following the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.  But the solution, as far as I could tell, had nothing to do with faith, and everything to do with finding competent people who are more concerned with securing the homeland than the President's poll numbers.

Then it hit me.  This is a "faith based initiative" just like all the previous "faith based initiatives" - it's a boondoggle.  Bush's "faith based initiatives" program was, from the very beginning, a two-part program: (1) a strategic initiative to eliminate social services from the Federal government and (2) a means of ingraining Republican support into the structure of government.

As Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has shown, there is a lot of money to be made in the security business.  And there has long been hard evidence that so-called "faith based initiatives" is little more than a political patronage program.  For the Republicans, they're two great tastes that taste great together.

George Bush and the Republican leadership are no more interested in homeland security than they are in protecting the Constitution.

If you're concerned about homeland security, I hope you have a lot of faith.  With the Republicans at the helm, it's the only thing standing between us and catastrophic disaster.

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Katherine Harris Reclaiming America for Christ

Katherine Harris is said to be going into hiding following recent news reports revealing her association with convicted felon Mitchell Wade.

But, as much as Harris is hiding, you can still find her if you look hard enough.  For example, in ten days she'll be speaking at the Reclaim America For Christ conference in Ft. Lauderdale.  She joins Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee,  David C. Gibbs III - the attorney that fought Terri Schaivo's husband, Alan Chambers - former homosexual and President of Exodus Global Alliance, and anti-sex education crusader James W. Sedlak.

The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ's mission states:

To inform, equip, motivate, and support Christians; enabling them to defend and implement the Biblical principles on which our country was founded.

The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ, established by Dr. D. James Kennedy, is an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries, providing non-partisan, non-denominational information, training, and support to all those interested in positively affecting the culture and renewing the vision of our Founding Fathers, as expressed in America's founding documents.

I also think it's of interest that a uniformed military chaplain appears on their speaker list.  CRAR claims to be non-partisan, but I would think they would be hard pressed to convince any reasonable person that they are not a Republican fundraising tool.

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The Real Religious Right, pt. 1

While the Religious Right's influence may or may not be waning, it's clear that Christian conservatives have a disproportionate amount of influence within the Republican party. Republicans must seek the blessing of Religious Right high priests before they can climb the ranks of the party leadership, and GOP policy is often mandated directly by these folks. But who are they? What do they really believe? Who holds the power? I hope this will be a regular series describing the nefarious networks of power within the religious right and exposing the extremist views of its leaders.

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FREE SPEECH: 101

As you may or may not know, I made a documentary film entitled THIS DIVIDED STATE. The film chronicles Michael Moore's controversial visit to Utah Valley State College 2 weeks before the 2004 presidential election. Protests, bribery, and death threats descended upon the school in a fanatical effort to cancel Moore's speech.

One of the key players of the documentary was Joe Vogel. Joe was the Student Body Vice President and was ultimately responsible for inviting Michael Moore. In the end, Joe was forced to resign from his office and lost a scholarship because of his involvement in the Moore fiasco. As facts began to emerge about Joe's resignation, it became clear that it was because of a "tell all" book that Joe was writing that caused many people in the college administration and Utah legislator to get extremely angry at Joe. They asked Joe to "vow on oath of silence" about the book. Joe said "no". They said, "You must resign".

You see, Joe had been present in many secret meetings and had heard first hand the corruption that lied under the surface of the quiet Utah town of Orem. Now, that book, full of explosive facts and extremely frightening accounts is hitting book shelves nationwide. Joe has called it FREE SPEECH 101. And he's naming names and pulling no punches.

Not only does it talk about the Moore controversy, but expounds on the growing trend of colleges and universities becoming corporations owned and controlled by those with money, power, and agendas. A very important book...

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Diaries

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