More Faith-Based Flim-Flam:
The first time any of us heard of Jim Towey, the Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, it involved an unholy fight between Mother Theresa and a cinnamon bun that appeared to bear her likeness. In 1997, the fine, fine Nashville coffee house Bongo Java had a miracle in that the visage of Mother Theresa appeared in the crusty goodness of one of their sticky sweet rolls. However, Mother Theresa, when not busy condemning women who had abortions and denying birth control to the truly desperately poor of Calcutta and taking money from Haiti's Duvalier and, believing that suffering brought one closer to God, ministering to the dying without giving them anything to help their fucking pain, was mightily pissed that anyone would use her image on a fucked-up cinnmon bun to make money. So Towey, as Mother Theresa's counsel, sent a letter to Bongo Java to cease and desist associating Mother Theresa's name with the bun. The pastry is now called "the NunBun." If you're ever in Nashville, bow down and offer thanks for such succulent miracles.

In his speech this week on his faith-based initiative, President Bush went out of his way to praise Towey and mention that Towey was Mother Theresa's lawyer for a dozen years. Bush said, "Think about that. Maybe we're a little too litigious in America," apparently believing that the only reason Mother Theresa would need a lawyer would be to defend her from lawsuits, not to threaten them.

Hunched over, spittle flying from his mouth, Bush told the gathered invited audience at the White House Leadership Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives of his aggravation with those motherfuckers in the Republican-run Congress and those cocksuckers in all the Republican-run Departments that prevent tax dollars from being sent to religious organizations. He gave examples of the outrageous, egregious, heinous acts of the government: "When I came in office, I found out the federal government was threatening to cut off funds for an Iowa homeless shelter. The shelter was receiving money from the federal government, and the shelter was doing good work. The shelter was helping to meet an objective, which was to provide housing for the homeless, but they were threatening to cut off money because the governing board was not sufficiently secular. Think about that. It kind of defeats the purpose of a faith-based organization, doesn't it, when the government says, we will design the board of directors for you." One might argue that it kind of defeats the purpose of a faith-based organization to take money from the government, but then, you know, you'd make sense.

He's talking here about the Victory Center Rescue Mission in Clinton, Iowa, which received a grant for over $300,000 from the Clinton administration, and the Mission did not abide by the guidelines for the grant, which demanded that the board of the mission be opened to, say, non-Christians. It's like if you're a guy who goes to an orgy and the one demand is that you use a condom. But not only did you not bring your own, you refuse to wear one when it's given to you. Fuck that, you say. You want your cock free and fleshy. Now, perhaps you shouldn't have come to the orgy. But by Bush's logic, not only should you be allowed in the orgy, you should be able to fuck freely. After all, what kind of orgy is it that gives a shit about safe sex when there's jizz to be sprayed? Should we not measure the success of the orgy by how sticky the floor is after everyone's gone?

The Mission was threatened with losing its grant and returning $100,000 which it had already spent. Run by the evangelical Rev. Ray Gimenez, the Mission was told to set up a separate, secular board to run the building project the grant was for. Instead of complying, it told HUD to fuck off and continue to hold chapel services and Bible studies. HUD cancelled the grant, the Mission was sold to another organization that didn't seem to have a problem with complying, and now the Mission continues to help the homeless. You could argue that Gimenez put on his application that he was building transitional housing for homeless women that would include "spiritual" counseling. But, you know, you gotta dance with the Devil you choose.

Once again, who gives a rat's ass about the whole truth when this makes a really great story, one that Bush has been using for nearly three years now.

So what does Bush want? And who does he want it from? And, hey, what the fuck's the problem with givin' cash money to religious organizations?

More on those questions tomorrow, but for now, let's leave with the words of Jim Towey at the end of his "Ask the White House" online Q&A: "And God willing, I'll be back soon to answer more questions. . . Mother Teresa used to say, 'It isn't how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing.' So good luck, and if you get a chance, pray for the President, Mrs. Bush, his family, and all of us here." And ask yourself if it creeps you out to have a government official saying this to you.