New York Daily News (U.S.), October 17, 2004
PRESIDENCY IS WHAT WE HAVE
'My faith plays a big part in my life,"
said President Bush in the last debate. But,
"I never want to impose my religion on
No, he has left the imposing to the groups he
funds and the appointees he selects.
From the first day Bush entered office and reimposed
the Reagan-era gag rule - by which any family
planning clinic in the developing world that
so much as mentions abortion loses its U.S.
funding - Bush has promoted a far-right Christian
agenda. That is probably because, while white
evangelical Christians make up only 25% of
the population, they made up 40% of his voters.
This is something I had been aware of, of course,
but not until I read Esther Kaplan's "With
God on Their Side" did I realize how many
profound (and silly) ways Bush has pandered
to Christian fundamentalists.
Silly first? Okay, here: In the middle of the
1.5 million-acre Mojave National Preserve in
California, there is an 8-foot cross on a big
rock outcropping. It was ordered removed for
separation of church and state reasons. The
Bush administration appealed that decision,
lost and appealed again - but in the meantime,
it did something very weird. At the bottom
of a 2004 defense funding bill, it added a
provision to trade 1 acre in the middle of
the Mojave Preserve (guess which?) for 5 private
acres at the park's entrance. Bush used a defense
bill to keep a cross in a national park.
But let's get down to more serious issues, like
sex. Through Bush's faith-based initiative
(which has yet to directly fund any initiative
run by a Jewish, Muslim, Hindi or Sikh group),
Bush has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars
to "abstinence till marriage" programs
throughout the country. By law, only abstinence
can be discussed in these classes, even when,
as Kaplan witnessed when she visited one in
Tennessee, a teen directly asks, "How
do you use a condom?"
"Abstinence works," Kaplan admits.
But there is no evidence that programs promoting
In fact, says Adrienne Verrilli, spokeswoman
for the Sexuality Information & Education
Council of the U.S., Minnesota, Arizona and
Pennsylvania all evaluated their abstinence
programs and concluded they needed to include
a broader discussion of contraceptives and
One more bit about sex: Just this year, the Food
and Drug Administration's advisory committee
recommended approving the emergency contraceptive
Plan B for over-the-counter sale. Since it
is almost unheard of for the FDA to rule against
its advisers, women's groups rejoiced. By some
estimates, this pill (which prevents a clump
of fertilized cells from implanting in the
womb and starting a pregnancy) could eliminate
as many as half of all abortions in America.
But guess what? The acting commissioner of the
FDA - Bush's man - ruled against the pill.
In this administration, whatever the fundamentalists
want, the fundamentalists get. In short: This
is a man who does impose his beliefs. Religiously.
<< Daily News -- 10/17/04 >>
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