Bush administration Faith Czar James Towey criticized “militant secularism” during a March conference for Catholic men in Boston.
Urging attendees to reject “militant secularism,” Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, implored the men to “reflect together on what it means to be a Catholic man” and added, “We are called to have a personal encounter with Christ. I would encourage you to be godly men.”
Towey, a former attorney for Mother Teresa, denounced “a culture that is hostile to the themes of God,” citing gay marriage, abortion and radio shock jock Howard Stern’s profanities as examples.
“It’s a purifying experience: the word of Christ,” he observed.
The Boston Globe reported that about 2,000 men attended the March 19 Boston Catholic Men’s Conference, an event modeled on the Promise Keepers rallies that are popular among fundamentalist Protestant groups. Other speakers included Boston Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley, right-wing businessman Thomas Monaghan and actor Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ.”
Similar to Promise Keepers meetings, the event featured an emphasis on avoiding sexual misdeeds. The Rev. Larry Richards, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Erie, Pa., blasted pornography, homosexuality and masturbation and reminded the men that they must refrain from using artificial forms of birth control.
Towey has apparently been making the rounds on the conservative Catholic lecture circuit recently. In April, he spoke at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., where he advocating mixing faith and public policy.
“In America, there has been a movement to keep separate one’s faith and how one acts on that faith in the public square,” Towey said. “It’s as if we are expected to be schizophrenic, being one person at work and another person when we are at home. That’s crazy. We need to bring our faith and morals into the culture and engage the culture.”
Towey’s office has continued to press claims that the Bush administration is increasing funding for “faith-based” social services. According to figures released March 31, faith-based groups received more than $2 billion in the 2004 fiscal year, compared to $1.7 billion in 2003.