On this week's Brody File show, Michael Gerson, a top aide to former President George W. Bush, says that the Obama administration has politically "abused" the office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Gerson, who was involved in the faith-based office during the Bush administration, made the remarks while responding to whether he thought Obama had failed to capitalize on his unprecedented outreach to evangelical Christians during his 2008 presidential campaign.
"I think he's abused that office in political ways doing outreach on healthcare and other federal initiatives instead of focusing in on what religious based charities can do for the poor," he told CBN News Reporter Jennifer Wishon.
Watch more of the interview or read the transcript below. Click here to watch this week's The Brody File Show.
The Faith-Based office was established January 29, 2001 by former President George W. Bush.
"America is rich materially, but there remains too much poverty and despair amidst abundance," Bush said upon launching the program. "In this blueprint, I outline my agenda to enlist, equip, enable, empower and expand the heroic works of faith-based and community groups across America."
READ THE TRANSCRIPT:
Jennifer Wishon: I want to talk a little bit about President Obama. You guys don't necessarily deal with him so much in the book, but when he was running for President, he really reached out to Christians, and it seemed like there was a real opportunity there for him to relate to Christians, but that didn't transfer when he took office.
Why is that? And has he blown it with Christians?
Michael Gerson: Well, in some ways he has. The outreach that the Obama campaign did in that 2008 election, to evangelicals in particular, was unprecedented.
A thousand meetings, house meetings, reaching out to evangelical leaders, and the content of the message, by supporting the faith-based initiative that the Bush administration had pursued was very positive. I think there was an opportunity there, but you look at these recent poll numbers and they've gained very little ground with evangelicals.
In fact, evangelicals, about 45 percent, don't know what faith the President of the United States is. He has not used this terminology and rhetoric effectively, he has not emphasized these themes as a matter of governing.
In my view, I was involved with the faith based office in the Bush administration, I think he's abused that office in political ways, doing outreach on health care and other federal initiatives, instead of focusing on what religious based charities can do for the poor. So I think he's alienated a number of people, it's a missed opportunity.
Barack Obama was different than say John Kerry, who was not comfortable with this kind of language, or even John McCain, that was not particularly comfortable with this language. And, Barack Obama was much more, but it has not been central to the way he's governed.