David Kuo, Who Once Led President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative, Dies

J. David Kuo, an evangelical Christian conservative who led President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative but then criticized the effort, died in Charlotte, N.C.

Kuo had suffered from brain cancer for the last decade, his wife, Kimberly, told The Washington Post. He died on Friday. He was 44.

Kuo's family wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday: "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."

Kuo served as Special Assistant to President Bush and Deputy Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2001 to 2003, to help the president strengthen faith-based and community organizations and expand their capacity to provide federally-funded social services.

After leaving the White House, he wrote a book, describing the Bush White House as having sought political gain through the manipulation of religious faith and called the initiative a "sad charade." "National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Kuo wrote in Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction.

In 2006, Kuo spoke with PBS News Hour's Ray Suarez about the book, saying, "It's a story of my political seduction ... making a journey from being more of a social gospel liberal when I was growing up to being very much a card-carrying member of the religious right."

"Conservative Christians (like me) were promised that having an evangelical like Mr. Bush in office was a dream come true," Kuo wrote in an opinion article in The New York Times in 2006. "Well, it wasn't. Not by a long shot. The administration accomplished little that evangelicals really cared about."

However, Kuo's colleagues in the faith office did not agree with him. Kuo also said in interviews that he believed Bush was sincere about the program but top political aides did not have the same commitment.

Kuo had also been a policy adviser to Republican Sen. John Ashcroft and a speechwriter for conservative Republicans Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson and for Republican Sen. Bob Dole.

An evangelical Christian since high school, Kuo considered himself a liberal when he was attending college in the late 1980s at Tufts University, Mass. However, after his girlfriend became pregnant and the couple opted for an abortion, his remorse led him to become a pro-life activist, according to The Washington Post.

Kuo is of Chinese and European descent. His father John T. Kuo, was born in Hangzhou, China, and was a geophysics professor at Columbia University. Kuo's mother, Marilyn Dunlap, a Phoenix, Arizona-native, was a homemaker.

Kuo was born in New York City in 1968. He was married with three daughters and a son.

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In Politics