Vol. 3, Issue 13, May 31, 2005
"Church of Bush" Gets $3 Million in 2006 Budget
After months of denial and evasion, the White House has finally admitted that it is aware of a religious sect which considers President Bush to be a divine figure. Moreover, the sect is apparently scheduled to receive $3 million in funding through the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF), part of a three-year initiative included in the President's 2006 budget.
The sect, officially known as the Texas Christian Divine Fellowship of the New Millennium, is more commonly called the Church of the Burning Bush by its members. Its total membership is estimated to number approximately 1,600, with most of those residing in Texas.
"In Exodus 3.2, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush - a bush, mind you - that was not consumed by the flames," said Pastor Franklin Gimbel, founder of the sect and former GOP lobbyist. "We believe that President Bush is doing the Lord's work, and that it is no coincidence that the Lord chose another messenger whose very name echoes this historical and pivotal encounter. He, too, shines bright both with the fire of His faith and the flames of those who would persecute Him, especially via the damnable internet; yet He is not consumed by either."
The sect gained enormous credibility when Gimbel's prediction of a second term for Bush came true, and membership has risen sharply, along with financial contributions. The net worth of the church is estimated at $75 million.
"The President has selected this group for inclusion in his faith-based initiative for its charitable works, not for its theological stance," said Scott McClellan in a press conference on Monday. "Of course, the President is always pleased to see people acting with such strong faith, and to such positive ends."
Some observers are skeptical about the sect's motivations, however, and note that the principal "charitable works" conducted by the church involve Republican voting drives in 2000 and 2004.
"It is particularly interesting that this group actually considers George Bush's many well-documented personal problems as proof of his divinity," said Fordham University theology professor Alan McTague. "Each scandal that has arisen concerning his past, ranging from ducking active military service to abusing alcohol and drugs, has actually strengthened the church's beliefs; many consider that only someone marked by the divine could possibly make the transition from belligerent cocaine addict to President of the United States. His is a story of redemption, which resonates deeply with conservative Christians."
Bush, who is officially a member of the United Methodist Church, has not commented directly on the sect. However, White House aides have noted that he has recently taken to quoting or paraphrasing the Bible throughout the day, and is particularly fond of intoning "Let there be light!" when flipping light switches.
"Do we have our detractors? Sure," said Gimbel. "But President Bush stands by all his statements and misstatements, and so do we. You just have to have faith."