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Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction
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Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  34 reviews
David Kuo came to Washington wanting to use his Christian faith to end abortion, strengthen marriage, and help the poor. He reached the heights of political power, ultimately serving in the White House under George W. Bush, after being policy adviser to John Ashcroft and speechwriter for Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and Bob Dole. It was a dream come true: the chance to fuse ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 16th 2006 by Free Press (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Patrick Sprunger
David Kuo has two books here. One deals with the thesis. The other deals with his personal, Christian journey. Though the author would clearly feel otherwise,* the average reader may not feel like the two necessarily complement each other.

Just like the wall of separation that should divide church and rock, I prefer a separation of church and history.

I suppose a member of the (G.W.) Bush White House, writing a book about spiritual realizations, is entitled to assume his readers will be political
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I have become more and more concerned at the increasing presence of religion and religious leaders in politics. Although I believe that every citizen should participate fully in our democracy, I also believe that mixing religion and politics is a sad and dangerous thing. I am more and more convinced that politicians are using religion to further their political gains while doing little or nothing to help citizens. David Kuo was an active member of Pres. George Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Co ...more
Jun 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book by a former White House official is critical of the marriage of Christians and Republicans, the lack of compassion for the poor among both groups, and the lack of policy commitments in the Bush Administration. I have a few quibbles--his tone is sometimes whiny and self-important. But I think his critiques are just and his history chilling, particularly his account of the Bush tax cuts. Oh, for more Christians like Billy Graham, willing to minister to power without courting it or believ ...more
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
I have a friend (who did not read the book herself, but was forced to sit through my "blow-by-blow" account of it) who knows someone currently working in the Office of Faith Based Initiatives in Washington where David Kuo worked. When asked her take on his book, she said his characterization of the Evangelical leaders was not fair or accurate. I'm not sure if those were provided talking points or what, but if that's what anyone takes away from this book as Kuo's message, that only serves to bols ...more
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
kuo worked in the bush administration's office for faith based initiatives. this is his account of the work and the politics to accomplish it.

i found the book to be humble and honest, written by a man who admits that he was part of the pandering machine of politics and their attempt to woo evangelicals in modern history.

this book inspired me to talk less politics in the 2008 election and DO more mercy and justice- like Jesus.
Margot Friedman
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
A wonderful behind-the-scenes look at President Bush's faith based initiatives and how they were used for political purposes. Author David Kuo is also very honest about his own struggles with living by his faith. I wish more conservatives cared about the poor which, of course, is at the core of Jesus' teachings. ...more
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
A self-proclaimed compassionate conservative finds that his party doesn't exactly do what the Jesus would do (except for hating the gays and birth control, of course). Kuo essentially confirms that federal funds were sent to vulnerable Republican districts for purely political reasons. The lengths taken to exploit federal dollars makes Tammany Hall look like amateur hour. ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Even though I widely disagree with the author's political views, I have a deep respect for his honesty and courage in writing this book. It takes a lot of conviction to realize when you are involved in something that is wrong. This book is a powerful account of how the Bush administration has corrupted and used people of faith for their own ends. Definitely worth reading. ...more
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
I watched an interview with David Kuo and was instantly attracted to his sincerity. I treated the book a little like a textbook about the dance the Republican party has been playing with the Christian church in America. It was enlightening and, in a way, encouraging.
Feb 22, 2008 rated it liked it
A great book for Christians considering politics, warning that simply because one is Christian does not protect them from being seduced by the power of politics. Also describes how the tenuous relationship between evangelicals and the Republican Party.
Sep 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Interesting look into money and power and their invasion of the clash of faith and politics on capitol hill.
Nov 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very illuminating. I highly recommend for the evangelical voter. The Author is very candid about his time working in the White House for GW’s compassion agenda. This book ends with a very good recommendation for Evangelicals going forward.
Eric Wright
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
David Kuo describes in concrete modern terms why thoughtful western nation-builders have always insisted on the separation of church and state.

He describes his desire to use his Christian faith to end abortion, strenthen marriage and help the poor. He worked for John Ashcroft, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Bob Dole. Ultimately he spent 3 years as second in command of President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Commun ity Initiatives. He dreamed of fusing his faith and his politices. Bush, as a b
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in politics
A very good and readable book from the inside, not just of the Bush administration, but the Christian right movement in Washington. Kuo writes compellingly of his becoming a born-again Christian, and of what that eventually did to his politics. Hearing Chuck Colson speak at Brown in the late 80s convinced him to shift to the Republican side, and put his faith in touch with his politics.

You get some nice portraits of various rightwingers, like Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell (Kuo REALLY doesn't like h
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: political junkies, and anyone with strong opinions about the intersection of religion and politics
Definitely the first book to recommend to hardcore social conservative relatives, this memoir is a intimate look at two 'insides' which can seem impenetrable to anyone in the outsider position - the policy-making chambers of the Bush White House, and the world of the organized religious right. A great look at the question - how did a Republican who spoke so relatively much about poverty as a candidate (i.e. 'compassionate conservatism') so utterly fail to turn that rhetoric into reality? And how ...more
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political-memoir
David Kuo was an assistant in the Faith Based Initiatives office during the first three years of George W Bush's presidency. This book tells the story of the seductive power of politics, not only in Kuo's life but in the lives of evangelicals who Kuo helped lure to the party through his office, despite the lack of concrete funding or action to support faith-based social initiatives.

He brought this home to me in talking about the increase in the black vote for the Republican party in 2004, includ
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
A very interesting but disturbing book. David Kuo tells of his experiences as a staffer and speech writer for conservatives like John Ashcroft, Bob Dole, and George W. Bush. As a Christian who entered politics to bring positive change in the country, he shares his disappointment and frustration at religious politics and at the cynical use of Christian organizations by the Republican political machine. Kuo includes many interesting anecdotes from the inside, including reflections on Karl Rove and ...more
Jun 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was depressing, though not that surprising. Kuo went into politics because he thought it was the best way to live out his faith and change the world for the better. What he found was pure politics. Conservative politicians who had no interest in faith wove subtle Biblical references into their speeches so the mainstream media wouldn't peg them as religious but Christian leaders would think they were one of them. Politicians, even President Bush, talked about compassion and serving the ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it liked it
One thing I have never understood about fundamentalist Christians is why so many of them seem to be so gung-ho on lower taxes. I always thought Jesus was about sacrificing to help the poor, but perhaps my Christian education as a wee lass was remiss? Kuo attacks this presumption and more head on. He does come from the "we-should-help-the-poor-show-mercy-to-the-less-fortunate-be-humble" born again vein. But he details how that gets corrupted by politics. His conclusion seems to be that it is bett ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
David Kuo story takes the path of mixing politics with faith and the potential outcome of that concoction. He set out to make a difference for Christ by going to Washington, he wrote speeches for several politicians including W. Bush. He took over the Faith Based Initiatives program, where he provides incite to how specific politicians meant well or attempted to exploit religious ideals for votes. However, he discusses how he slowly crept out of church to watch political shows on Sunday morning. ...more
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Very honest and thought provoking. David Kuo tells of his personal experience in the White House, including his witness of the failure of the "compassionate conservative" movement. This book serves as a reminder that our ultimate hope is in God, not in man or politics, and that our politics should be shaped by our faith, not the other way around. I appreciate that his aim was not to specifically bash the Bush administration, but rather to highlight how power can cause any man or woman to lose si ...more
This insider account of how the second Bush administration pandered to Christian rightists by claiming to be promoting faith-based programs, while actually failing to do that, may make secularists and liberals happy. For someone who obviously thinks of himself as a head-in-the-clouds idealist, Kuo is strikingly good at describing the nuts and bolts of how the US government pretends to increase or decrease funding for one program or another, while in reality nothing's changed. Kuo chose to reject ...more
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who felt betrayed by "compassionate conservatism" or has issue with the religious right
David Kuo tells his story about his frustrations in the faith-based initiative office of the White House with a lot of honesty and humility. His faith seems genuine and he really does care about social justice issues. It was interesting to read about his "seduction" into politics and how he justified what he was doing as "God's calling." This book is important for any Christian who has struggled with the religious right's political power and influence. It's also important for left-wing critics w ...more
Joel Bradshaw
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fantastic story of personal faith, aggravation, and a real, revealing look at why faith and politics are a dangerous mix. Kuo details how the goals of faith and politics are diametrically opposed to each other, and the true corrupting power of politics on otherwise well-meaning and good-hearted people. A great read for every Christian aggravated with politics, and an absolute must-read for those that think it's going their way. ...more
Dennis Henn
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Kuo expressed so many of my frustrations over the current state of politics. How did the church allow itself to be co-opted by one party to sanctify that party's agenda? How come the best intentioned people become seduced by the proximity to power? Kuo suggests Christians fast from politics and spend the time praying over and reading the Bible, that we become aware of God's designs and Jesus' servant style leadership. All honor and glory and power belong to him and not the flag. ...more
The American Conservative
'Tempting Faith is one of those rare Washington books that is worth reading —clearly written, disarmingly honest, thoughtfully introspective, and unusually substantive. We are enriched as we learn about Kuo the person as well as his involvement in Christian politics.'

Read the full review, "David Out of the Lions' Den," on our website:
Jul 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, faith
Curious about what happened to compassionate conservatism? David Kuo's memoir explains. The best part of the book is his proposal that people of faith refrain from politics, except for voting, for two years, spending the energy they would use for politics on prayer, service and reflection on issues like poverty and climate change. ...more
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting take on how the Bush administration used the "Christian right" to their advantage to win elections while duping those "devout" people of faith. Gave a great inside look into the current administration by a man who worked very close to the President. ...more
Aug 03, 2007 added it
More bad news on the Bush administration.
Anyone still under the delusion that religion and politics mix should read this.
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“I'd used people's stories and their lives to bolster my political arguments for changing welfare. Now, however, I was running into the people themselves, and I realized that using anyone's tragedy for political gain was cowardly.” 0 likes
“It was the bitterest irony; I came to Washington to fight for "the family" and destroyed mine in the process.” 0 likes
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