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Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction [Kindle Edition]

David Kuo
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"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."

-- The American Conservative

About the Author

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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 432 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (October 16, 2006)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,326 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
178 of 190 people found the following review helpful
By elwin
Kuo was a special assistant to the president from 2001 to 2003, deputy director of the White House office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Kuo writes with great clarity and sincerity.

Many will read this book for its "Gotchas" about the Bush adminstration, but it's also an excellent portrait of a life: a life devoted to serving Christ through serving fellow citizens, and attempting to serve them both through directly and through politics (yeah, yeah, render unto Caesar etc). Kuo lives his life in the question of how to best serve, and this book combines his history and his ruminations on the mixture of politics and Christianity.

I should point out that Kuo is not the first person to leave Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives in disgust. That honor belongs to John J. DiIulio Jr., who described his tenure in the Whitehouse in a Jan. 2003 Esquire article famous for the phrase "It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis".

I have only skimmed this book so far, but I was struck by the passage where Kuo meets Hillary Clinton in a receiving line and takes the opportunity to apologize to her (earlier in the book, in order to grease the skids of fellowship, Kuo agrees with a rural sheriff that Hillary is "the AntiChrist"). he apologizes to her for his attacks: not for attacking her policies, but for "personal attacks." Hillary is taken aback, but manages to stutter out an "Okay, Okay, thank you," and later mentions Kuo's apology in a speech. Kuo is afraid his career in conservative politics is ruined, until he learns that Hillary didn't mention him by name.

Kuo started in politics working for William Bennett, and then moved to the senatorial offices of John Ashcroft.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Seriously Interesting Read. October 16, 2006
This is one seriously interesting commentary that clearly demonstrates that politics and religion do not mix. More importantly, author Kuo alleges that the former White House Director of Political Affairs, Mr. Ken Mehlman, knowingly used his office and government funds to mount a religious voter movement in 20 political races on behalf of the Bush Administration. In essence, by using the White House's Office of Faith Based Initiatives, which President Bush used to assist the poor, as a central point to court and manipulate the religious-right's political machine, Kuo is openly stating that the Bush Administration misused its power and overstepped its authority while betraying one of their grass-root based supporters. Equally important is the shared commentary about how certain administration members viewed the courted far right, going on to label them as the `nuts'. Overall this is a worthwhile read that must be viewed with a certain sense of reader balance and understanding that writers, regardless of the short and narrow, have subjective views that guide objective reporting.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By David M. Kinchen

Huntington News Network Book Critic

Hinton, WV - In his eye-opening account of a pilgrim's progress - or rather a lack of it - inside the Beltway, David Kuo's "Tempting Faith" (Free Press, $25, 304 pages) confirms to me something that I believe is obvious: Politics and religion shouldn't be mixed.

In fact, at the end of the book, evangelical Christian Kuo seems to come to that conclusion, suggesting a two-year "fast" from engaging in politics for his fellow believers, who should instead support charities that help the poor and the sick. Fasting, he points out, is an integral part of Christianity, it's good for the soul and body and Jesus was a strong believer in fasting.

The book's subtitle - "An Inside Story of Political Seduction" - tells a lot about Kuo's experiences both before and after working for the George W. Bush administration. From 2001 to 2003, he was second in command - deputy director -- at the President's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, working closely with the director of the organization, John DiIulio, and with Dilulio's successor.

As a matter of fact, Dilulio, quoted in a Dec. 4, 2002 Esquire magazine story by Ron Suskind gave more than a hint that the Bush White House was using believing Christians as part of a Karl Rove-designed scheme to secure the voting base of that group. In the article, according to Kuo (Page 219) Dilulio "critiqued the Bush White House for its lack of a serious policy apparatus. Policy wasn't made by philosophy, John said, but by politics. `There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus...'" Kuo said the article went on at "length detailing Karl Rove's perceived power.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important Revelations! October 20, 2006
"Tempting Faith" begins with Kuo's early life, his accepting Christianity, and gaining credibility through working for Bill Bennett, Ralph Reed, John Ashcroft, Bob Dole, and Pat Robertson.

Ultimately Kuo was also impressed by George Bush, and had the opportunity to work in the White House under John DiIulio. Kuo was particularly motivated by the opportunity to participate in Bush's promised $8 billion per year in aid for faith-based organizations (1999 speech in Indianapolis), with $6 billion coming from tax credits for donating money to groups helping the poor.

Unfortunately, the $6 billion did not materialize - it was left out of the House's $1.7 trillion tax cut bill, put into the Senate's version by Senator Grassley (assumed its omission was an error), and then removed by Conference Committee participants at the direction of Bush's Legislative Affairs Assistant.

The logic was that it was so popular it would stand on its own, and didn't want it adding to the cost of the first tax cut; besides Bush needed room later on for his next $100 billion estate tax cut, that actually ended up cutting charitable giving by an estimated $5 billion/year. Unfortunately, key Christian conservative lobbying groups focused instead on judges, abortion, stem cell research, and gay rights - not the poor. Soon Kuo realized he had become a Christian in politics looking for ways to recruit others to get their votes, not trying to serve God through politics.

Kuo and his boss then came up with the idea of assisting local threatened Republican candidates in having meetings of faith-based and community leaders regarding how best to help the poor in the area. Supposedly non-partisan; regardless, 19 of the 20 so targeted won in 2002.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Seduction and Manipulation
It Is good inside look at Republican politics and manipulation. Shows how religious groups are seduced and used through ignorance.
Published 11 months ago by Vivia Jean Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Tempting Faith
A fascinating book written by a member of the George W.Bush Whitehouse team when he was (supposedly) organizing his faith-based help. Read more
Published on January 2, 2011 by G. Griffin
2.0 out of 5 stars Kuo is either naive or an opportunist
I read this book a few years after Kuo's other book "Dot.Bomb." In the latter book, naive guy with little practical experience in his industry gets taken in by the message of... Read more
Published on August 26, 2010 by Ryan Alexander
4.0 out of 5 stars Tao of Faith
Mr. Kuo writes this book to share his religious experience in politics as he said" I've seen, done, lived and learned from it" (P.xiv). Read more
Published on August 25, 2010 by Walter W. Ko
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best dissection of Compassionate Conservatism
For most of American history, there has always been a small but persistent stream of publications about the mixing of religion and politics. Read more
Published on March 4, 2010 by Newton Ooi
There are too many lessons in this book to name them all in a review. David Kuo is in the know, working in the George W. Bush White House in the Faith-Based Initiative Program. Read more
Published on June 18, 2008 by Mark Watterson
1.0 out of 5 stars Hackery and Hypocrisy
I read it. Finally. Reads like someone taking cheap shots to make a buck. He calls for a "fast" from politics, yet he rights a political blog. Tells you a lot. Read more
Published on April 7, 2008 by Reader, Avid
3.0 out of 5 stars A Decent Book
The book was good in parts. I would recommend borrowing it from the library.
Published on December 11, 2007 by K. Edwards
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic bildungsroman or pilgrims progress: two steps forward, one...
"Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction" feels a little like a tabloid or insider-reveals-all; in fact it's easy to read it simply to feed one's curiosity about the... Read more
Published on October 8, 2007 by J Kragt
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding and insightful.
Smart bomb treatment of how Bush led himself, his country and his ethically sound religious support base (not the sleeping with Satan group that Falwell and Robertson represent)... Read more
Published on May 27, 2007 by Lawrence R. Schultz
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It has taken a long time for evangelicals to catch on. Kuo's book is SO important in helping this powerful group understand that they have sold their beliefs, principles, and integrity for ashes. I'd like to think some of them, at least, will take this as a wake-up call to return from lusting... Read more
Oct 12, 2006 by Fiona Mackenzie |  See all 14 posts
Thank You Keith Olberman!
Actually, Olberman has taken Bush on from the start.
Oct 13, 2006 by Padre Bear |  See all 6 posts
What would Jesus Do?
Right On. It is by divine appointment that the truth is just beginning to surface. Something a few of us have suffered from for a while; hypocritical (ignorant/blind) conservative vote @ church!
Politics and Church don't, and ought not to mix. Politics are as dirty and as far away from a good... Read more
Oct 13, 2006 by F. Garciarubio |  See all 3 posts
What if the evangelicals really are goofy?
Goofy isn't the word for it. More like lunatics.
Oct 17, 2006 by BuddyBlue76 @ MySpace |  See all 3 posts
What a relief!
He does. Its Rove who is the cynical manipulator. Bush is smart enough to get it. This week's press conference was an embarassment. It was so bad it has received no attention since because there wasn't usable material for the media.
Oct 13, 2006 by Padre Bear |  See all 2 posts
anti-disestablish... and why it failed Be the first to reply
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