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Died: David Kuo, 'Tempting Faith' Author and Leader-Turned-Critic of Bush-Era Faith Office

Kuo wrote about disillusionment in his 2006 memoir, Tempting Faith.

David Kuo, best known for being a leader-turned-critic of former President George W. Bush's faith-based partnerships, died Friday night of brain cancer. He was 44.

Posted on his Facebook page:

Last night at 10:25 our beloved David found his reward in heaven, with his savior Jesus Christ. With a peaceful last breath, he won his courageous 10-year battle against brain cancer. We will celebrate his life at Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, next Wednesday morning. He is so incredibly loved and will be deeply missed every day.

Time magazine's Joe Klein offered one of the first tributes:

How do I tell you about David? He was the sweetest of God's creatures, and among the wisest, too. He was a man of faith, rather than of religion. He called himself a Follower of Jesus. Many of his friends had ministries, but David's church truly had no walls.

I met him about 17 years ago. He was an evangelical conservative in those days—and still was, in the truest sense, as his soul left his body, although political "conservatism" had taken itself to a place of cruelty that David couldn't really abide.

Kuo served as deputy director of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and was "instrumental in implementing Mr. Bush's promise to link the nation's religious groups with the delivery of social services," notesThe New York Times. "But Mr. Kuo left the administration after two years, frustrated and disillusioned. He later wrote that the faith office did not receive the billions of dollars that Mr. Bush had pledged. He also said that the office was routinely used by the administration as a political prop."

Kuo "drew wide attention when he publicly accused the administration of failing to live up to the values it espoused," notesThe Washington Post. In 2006, he published a memoir, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction.

An early MSNBC review shaped all the news coverage that followed, Kuo told CT in an interview in 2006. Kuo said Christians were sold on the idea of George W. Bush as pastor-in-chief, and they failed to recognize that Bush was not advocating for faith-based legislation or even for the poor.

"I don't know how anyone could be a Christian in politics and not be moved to think about matters of economic justice and social justice and racial justice," Kuo said.

Previous CT reports also cited Tempting Faith in regard to the declining influence of evangelicals in politics following the 2006 elections and noted "continuing ambivalence" toward the faith-based initiatives office.

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