Church Man


PHILADELPHIA—George W. Bush’s speech last night underlined the Texas
Governor’s central campaign goal—replacing what’s left of the New Deal
social welfare programs with church charity.

Not since Dickens has the message been so clear and simple: Adhere
to the principles of a “Faith-Based Organization” and you will be
given food, medicine, even housing—not as a right, but as Christian

Unlike any other political candidate, Bush connects moral behavior
with Christian largesse. No one in modern times—not Ronald Reagan,
certainly not his father, Poppy Bush, not even people like Pat Robertson
or Pat Buchanan—has gone so far toward actually implementing the
politics of a religious state.

In seeking to make a parable from the story of Mary Jo Copeland of
the Sharing and Caring Hands ministry in Minneapolis, Bush told how she
serves 1000 meals a week. “Each day, Mary Jo washes the feet of the
homeless, then sends them off with new socks and shoes.”

Bush paused, then added, “‘Look after your feet,’ she tells them.
‘They must carry you a long way in this world, and then all the way to

But, he says, “government cannot do this work. It can feed the
body, but it cannot reach the soul….” Bush then proposed a new tax
incentive for those who donate to charity.

As for the long-standing, intractable problem of how to redistribute
income from the rich suburbs to the impoverished inner cities and rural
hollers, Bush stuck with the status quo. The breaks are to come for the
new rich in the form of an end to the death tax, a general tax cut, and
the right to raid Social Security so the money can be invested in the
stock market.

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