“What We’ve Done is Turn a Mission Field into a Battlefield”

It boggles the mind that people who put their faith as paramount — would permit politicians to exploit their beliefs and betray their trust time after time.

The following excerpts from David Kuo perfectly illustrate that problem. As a Special Assistant to President Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Kuo was connected to the top.

For two years I had bitten my tongue and toed the line. We in the faith-based office didn’t speak too loudly or thunder too much. We were nice. I wasn’t angry now, but I was no longer willing to lie.

Before your knee jerks to impugn his motives in coming clean:

Hearing the words “brain tumor” in proximity to the words “you have a” clarifies things. . . . My wife, my daughters, how I treat others, and how I live before God concern me greatly. That’s why I decided to write this book.

Kuo lost his fight to brain cancer 10 years later.

He was the genuine article: A tried-and-true believer with a willingness to reflect.

He was committed to the compassionate-conservative cause, and in so doing he struggled between his loyalty to Bush and honoring his Administration’s claims.

Try to keep that in mind as you read the following:

National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as “ridiculous,” “out of control,” and just plain “goofy.”

The leaders spent much time lauding the president, but they were never shrewd enough to do what Billy Graham had done three decades before, to wonder whether they were just being used.

As Kuo wrote in his Afterword — in 2004 he was asked to speak at the St. Louis Family Church (his “spiritual home” he called it). He relayed how after the service someone came up to him and said:

“You tell President Bush to get that Supreme Court right!”

He had heard it all many times before and always responded in a “pat” and polite manner to put the person’s mind at ease, but not this time:

That night . . . I threw out the old script. Instead, I said, “Maybe the problem isn’t the courts, maybe the problem is us. Maybe things are so screwy because we’ve spent more time thinking about how to advance politically than we have about just changing our own lives.”

On top of being incredibly informative, his book is an enjoyable read.

Everything he advocates comes back to the concern he quoted from a “prominent pastor”:

What we’ve done is turn a mission field into a battlefield

But now we got weapons
Of chemical dust
If fire them we’re forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side

— Bob Dylan

And I speak from experience

I have thrown golf clubs with Ralph Reed and speared fish with John Ashcroft. I have eaten epic meals with Bill Bennett. George W. Bush whipped me silly in a private running race.

From 1989 until I joined the Bush White House in 2001, I longed for the day the right political leaders would arrive, govern morally, eloquently profess their Christian faith, and return America to greatness.

Most of our problems could be solved politically, I believed. Now I know better.

I have seen what happens when well-meaning Christians are seduced into thinking deliverance can come from the Oval Office, a Supreme Court chamber, or the floor of the United States Congress.

They are easily manipulated by politicians who use them for their votes, seduced by trinkets of power, and tempted to turn a mission field (politics) into a battlefield, leaving the impression Jesus’ main goal was advancing a particular policy agenda.

I know: I’ve seen it, I’ve done it, I’ve lived it, and I’ve learned from it.

Now I know better . . . I’ve learned“: Imagine!

This nation has no such notion

Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space
But when you return, it’s the same old place
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace

For all I know, our Navy was shooting at whales out there

We must be clear-sighted in beginnings, for, as in their budding we discern not the danger, so in their full growth we perceive not the remedy . . .

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