Bush revives faith-based initiative with new funds

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In seeking $600 million to combat drug abuse throughout the nation, President Bush on Tuesday night gave a nod to a California man whose work has targeted Native American and Hispanic communities.

Henry Lozano, who describes himself as Apache and Hispanic, was a guest of the White House at the State of the Union address. He is affiliated with several faith-based organizations that would be among beneficiaries of money Bush said would help 300,000 Americans over the next three years get the treatment they need.

"Addiction crowds out friendship, ambition, moral conviction, and reduces all the richness of life to a single destructive desire," Bush told a joint session of Congress. "As a government, we are fighting illegal drugs by cutting off supplies and reducing demand through anti-drug education programs. Yet for those already addicted, the fight against drugs is a fight for their own lives."

Lozano came to national prominence in the mid-1980s for an anti-drug crusade he helped start after a childhood friend, an undercover police officer, was killed by drug lords. Enrique "Kiki" Camarena's death prompted the "Red Ribbon" campaign that continues today.

But Lozano also has first-hand knowledge of the "hopelessness" of drug addiction that was described by Bush last night. In the 1970s, he battled his own abuse problems until he entered Teen Challenge, a religious group that he credits with his recovery.

"My first days of awakening to life and reality were walking into a faith based community organization," he wrote in a newsletter last May. "It was for me the last step of hope. I walked in with my wife who was also a heroin addict. We had no clue that what these folks were going to tell us was that there was another expression of life and that was faith."

Since then, Lozano has made drug prevention a full-time job. He is a Clinton appointee to the White House Commission on Drug-Free Communities and currently serves as president of Californians For Drug-Free Youth, a job that has placed him as part of a movement known in Indian Country circles as "wellbriety."

Wellbriety efforts would get a boost with the funds being sought by Bush as part of his faith-based initiative, which stalled in Congress after he first announced it two years ago. Those seeking treatment would be given vouchers that they can use at centers of their choice. State and tribal governments would be eligible for $5 million and $10 million grants.

Indian Country drug abuse programs often make spirituality and cultural practices a centerpiece of treatment. But critics say Bush's proposal blurs the line between religion and government. Teen Challenge, for example, encourages participants to convert to Christianity.

Bush has already implemented some elements of his initiative through administrative changes at some federal agencies. Churches, for example, can receive federal funds to build drug treatment centers. Other changes, however, require Congressional action.

State of the Union:
Video | Text

Relevant Links:
Californians for Drug-Free Youth -
White House Faith-Based & Community Initiatives -

Related Stories:
Defense of faith-based plan begins (3/8)
Bush calls up 'armies of compassion' (1/31)
Bush seeks to eliminate religious 'obstacles' (1/30)
Faith takes center stage with Bush (1/29)
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