David Kuo came to Washington wanting to use his Christian faith to end abortion, strengthen marriage, and help the poor. He reached the heights of political power, ultimately serving in the White House under George W. Bush, after being policy adviser to John Ashcroft and speechwriter for Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and Bob Dole. It was a dream come true: the chance to fuse his politics and his faith, and an opportunity for Christians not just to gain a seat at the proverbial table but to plan the entire meal.
Kuo spent nearly three years as second in command at the president's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Yet his experience was deeply troubling. It took both the Bush White House and a severe health crisis to show him how his Christian values, and those of millions of Americans, were being corrupted by politics.
Instead of following the teachings of Jesus to serve the needy, Kuo found himself helping to manipulate religious faith for political gain. Public funds were used in battleground states, for Republican campaign events. The legislative process was used as a football, not to pass laws but to deepen purely symbolic fault lines. Grants were incestuously recycled to political cronies. Both before and after 9/11, despite lofty rhetoric from the president claiming that his faith-based program was one of his most important initiatives, there was no serious attempt to fund valuable charities.
Worst of all was the prevailing attitude in the White House and throughout Washington toward Christian leaders. Key Bush aides and Republican operatives spoke of them with contempt and treated them as useful idiots. It became clear, during regular conference calls arranged from the White House with a key group of Christian leaders, that many of these religious leaders had themselves been utterly seduced by politics.
It is time, Kuo argues, for Christians to take a temporary step back from politics, to turn away from its seductions. Tempting Faith is equal parts headline-making exposé, political and spiritual memoir, and heartfelt plea for a Christian reexamination of political involvement.
David Kuo served as Special Assistant to the President under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. He has worked for numerous conservative leaders, including John Ashcroft, William Bennett, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, and Ralph Reed. He is the author of the Good Morning America Book Club selection Dot.Bomb: My Days and Nights at an Internet Goliath. He currently serves as the Washington editor of the Beliefnet Web site.
Read Tempting Faith, written by a real compassionate conservative, and weep for the loss of what could have been. Then beware of those who would manipulate genuine faith for partisan political purposes."
-- Jim Wallis, bestselling author of God's Politics
"The best kind of sermon, the most revealing and meaningful kind of testimony. At [Kuo's] call for action, you want to give [him] a loud 'amen.'"
-- The Hartford Courant
"Though Tempting Faith is a story about the Bush presidency, it is even more a story about Mr. Kuo. As much as it is a story about politics, it is also a story about faith."
-- The New York Times
"Tempting Faith is one of those rare Washington books that is worth reading -- clearly written, disarmingly honest, thoughtfully introspective, and unusually substantive.... A refreshingly honest account of how politics can seduce the best intentioned and the most naïve."