The controversy over opening more federal funding for religious social services took a rhetorical turn yesterday as evangelicals got surprisingly nasty with each other. And we're not talking your usual "I'm outraged" quote from people who are always outraged. These are normally calm activists calling each other bigots and racists. But first, a little background. Frequent Weblog readers will remember that white evangelicals are still stinging from comments made by John DiIulio, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, at the National Association of Evangelicals. "Predominantly white, exurban, evangelical and national parachurch leaders," he said, are "fret[ting] about 'hijacked faith,'" without backing it up with "real human and financial help." An article in Saturday's Boston Globe indicated just how much white evangelicals are still stinging: at least one religious conservative, the Traditional Values Coalition's Louis Sheldon, is calling for Bush to fire DiIulio. Sheldon is a minor player even in the evangelical world, to be sure, but he apparently has the ear of some in the White House. And many in the White House agree that DiIulio stepped over the line. "I would not expect there to be a repetition of such remarks," an unnamed senior Bush adviser told the Globe. "They could be interpreted as putting evangelicals in an unnecessarily uncharitable light, and there are a lot of people inside and outside the White House who are not pleased by that."
But at least one evangelical is cheering DiIulio's remarks: Boston pastor Eugene Rivers. "This has become an issue about race and class," Rivers told the paper. "The white fundamentalists thought the faith-based office would finance their ...1
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