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Religious Right Achieves Top Access At White House.

After eight years of outsider status at the White House, Religious Right leaders are relishing their new role as allies of President George W. Bush.

Paul Weyrich, president of the Free Congress Foundation and a long-time Religious Right leader who helped create the Moral Majority, is jubilant. "I've been through five Republican administrations, and the effort to communicate with conservatives and to understand our concerns and address our concerns and involve us in the process is the best of any of the Republican administrations, including Ronald Reagan," Weyrich told The New York Times. "In fact, far superior to Ronald Reagan."

Observed Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform and an influential right-wing operative, "There isn't an us and them with this administration. They is us. We is them."

In fact, the Bush administration appears to have been going all out to secure a close relationship with its Religious Right kin. At an annual "Washington Briefing" hosted by the Family Research Council in March, the White House sent two cabinet officials, a senior aide and a taped message from the president. When Norquist hosts weekly get-togethers of over 100 conservative groups, the administration has sent at least one representative to every meeting

Religious Right influence has been particularly noteworthy in personnel decisions, culminating in the nomination of John Ashcroft as attorney general. Meanwhile, Kay Cole James, who served as a dean at TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University, now heads Bush's Office of Personnel Management. A similar influence can be seen at the departments of Interior and Justice, the Office of Management and Budget and the White House counsel's office.

Even James Dobson, head of the Focus on the Family empire, has warmed up to the Bush administration after showing signs of skepticism during the campaign. According to a report in World magazine, Dobson said he is "very encouraged" by Bush after seeing how helpful the White House staff has been in assisting his wife, Shirley Dobson, who organizes the National Day of Prayer.
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
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