Thursday, March 04, 2004

Know Bush Fact #12

Based on the belief that the truth shall set you free:

On Friday, March 3, officially beginning his election campaign, Bush addressed "The White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives" where he proudly reported a 41% increase in Health & Human Services grants (from $477 million to $568 million) in 2003.

Expanding faith-based initiatives has always been (or at least since his conversion) a major focus for Bush. As the Governor of Texas, he personally pushed through the Legislature the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, requiring the state government to demonstrate a "compelling interest" before interfering with any religious group or practice, and use a "least restrictive means" test when enforcing regulations. This allowed the Texas Association for Christian Child Care Agencies to "license" faith-based social services which were not held to professional training standards, criminal background checks, or other regulatory conditions.

With this in place, Roloff's Homes returned to Texas in 1999. This organization was created by Lester Roloff, a powerful radio evangelist out of Corpus Christi, Texas, who barnstormed around Texas in his single-engine Cessna, preaching and stumping for Karl Rove's gubernatorial candidate, "Brother Bill" Clements. A few years later, Roloff, a reckless flier who believed "the touch of an unseen hand" would bring him back safely to earth, no matter the weather, flew into the hereafter, taking 4 young singers from his choir with him.

His replacement at his Roloff's Homes for wayward boys, girls, and women (what - no men?) was the Reverend Wiley Cameron. Under Cameron, Roloff's Homes were under investigation by State Attorney General John Hill. Apparently, the Biblical model of discipline ("Withhold not correction from this child, for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die") was going too far. By the mid-80s, Cameron packed up and left for friendlier grounds in Missouri, where John Ashcroft was Attorney General and later Governor.

Bush's Religious Freedom Restoration Act made it safe to return. But old habits of righteousness are dangerous, and while Bush was campaigning for President, Cameron was convicted after a young girl was bound with duct tape, kicked in the ribs, and locked in solitary for 32 hours of taped Roloff's sermons and two boys were abused to the point of "torture".

The other huge benefactor of the new Texas law was Teen Challenge, a Bible-based drug program, run by Henry Lozano. By the time Mr. Lozano was an invited guest visibly sitting right behind Laura Bush at the 2003 State of the Union address, there was a 49-page report in the office of the Texas Freedom Network, an advocacy group monitoring extremist evangelicals, on the almost complete lack of compliance with basic safety requirements, such as first aid & CPR training, faulty electrical outlets, gas lines, and smoke alarms.

To veryify/research, Google "Roloff +Bush +Religious Freedom".

- March 4, 2004

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