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PASSINGS: J. David Kuo

Religion and BeliefPoliticsWhite HouseGeorge W. Bush

J. David Kuo, 44, an evangelical Christian and former top official of President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative who later accused the administration of failing to live up to the president's promise of "compassionate conservatism," died Friday of cancer.

Kuo's family announced his death Saturday on his Facebook page.

"Last night at 10:25 our beloved David found his reward in heaven, with his savior Jesus Christ," the family wrote. "With a peaceful last breath, he won his courageous 10-year battle against brain cancer."

Kuo joined the White House staff in January 2001 and left in December 2003 as deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. After leaving his post, Kuo became a vocal critic, saying in essays, interviews and a memoir that the administration had not fully funded the initiative and had allowed political operatives to hijack it for electoral gain.

The initiative, Kuo wrote in a 2005 essay on the website beliefnet.com, "was a whisper of what was promised."

The faith-based program, a signature effort of Bush's 2000 campaign, was created to direct federal funding to religious groups that he contended were more effective than government in helping the poor.

In his 2006 book, "Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction," Kuo wrote of his frustration that the effort had become entangled in politics and did not live up to its promise.

Despite his criticism, Kuo said in interviews after he left the White House that he believed Bush was sincere about the program but that top political aides did not share his commitment.

In 2003, Kuo's brain cancer was discovered after he suffered a seizure while driving, he wrote in his book, saying that his wife Kimberly's quick reflexes had saved them from a crash. He left the White House later that year.

Times staff reports

news.obits@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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