Paul J. Bonicelli, Ph.D., became a Deputy Assistant Administrator at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in October 2005.
USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios announced October 19, 2005, that Bonicelli had "joined the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA)" and "will primarily oversee the Agency's democracy and governance programs."
Lack of Experience and "Fitness"
"Given his apparent lack of experience in these areas," Bill Berkowitz wrote December 19, 2005, "it appears that Bonicelli could be another Michael Brown-like appointment. Brown, called 'Brownie' by President [George W.] Bush before the administration rather unceremoniously dumped him, was the head of FEMA during the run-up to, and the aftermath of, Hurricane Katrina."
Bonicelli has served as Dean of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Government at Patrick Henry College (PHC) in Purcellville, Virginia, since it opened in 2000. Patrick Henry is an "ultra-fundamentalist institution [which] requires its students and faculty to sign a [10-part] 'statement of faith' declaring that they believe 'Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, is God come in the flesh', 'Jesus Christ literally rose bodily from the dead,' and 'all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity'," former State Department and USAID official William Fisher wrote November 23, 2005.
"Critics question how Muslims will react to the view that 'all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity'," Fisher wrote.
As David Corn put it in his December 2, 2005, blog:
- "There should be no religious test for serving in the US government. But should the deputy director at the US. Agency for International Development (USAID) in charge of promoting democracy and good governance abroad be a fundamentalist who ardently believes that the citizens of the world who do not accept Christ will 'be confined in conscious torment for eternity'? Yes, it's another tricky religious-and-politics issue. But if the point of the US dispensing aid and advice around the globe is to improve the lot of those who are less fortunate (economically and politically) and to win the US brownie points for doing so, is it a smart move to have a significant portion of its efforts led by a man who thinks that there is only one true religion and that many--if not most--of the folks his agency is supposed to help are heading straight to hell?"
And Jake Herrera, in his December 15, 2005, The Daily Cardinal, expressed it this way:
- "Bonicelli is more likely going to be spreading the gospel. ... Sounds like just the man who should be given the task of convincing the vast majority of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims that they are mistaken in thinking that the U.S. is waging a war against Islam. I can just imagine his listening tour of the Middle East.
- "'The people of Iraq are free and will continue to grow democratically...but after that, unfortunately, it is the view of the United States that the people of Iraq will endure conscious torment in eternity.'"
U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
In 2002, the Bush administration sent a "delegation heavily stocked with activists from conservative Christian organizations" to the United Nations' Special Session on Children. Members of the delegation included Paul Bonicelli, identified as executive director of the National Center for Home Education, a division of the Home School Legal Defense Association; Bill Saunders, a director of the Family Research Council; J. Robert Flores, then vice president of the anti-pornography National Law Center for Children and Families; former Vatican advisor John Klink; and Janice Crouse of the ultra-conservative Concerned Women for America. The delegation, sent "to promote biblical values in U.S. foreign policy ... sparked an outcry of protest from women's rights advocates" by arguing "that the phrase 'reproductive health services' could be read to affirm the right to abortion and to support the distribution of condoms to teenagers." 
U.N. Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
"For the religious right, the anti-discrimination treaty is like the Equal Rights Amendment gone global, [said] Paul Bonicelli, a Bush delegate to last month's U.N. summit on children and dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College, a conservative Virginia school that teaches creationism," Michelle Goldberg reported June 22, 2002.
"'The White House seeking ratification of CEDAW would be absolutely humongous,' he [said]. 'It was unthinkable to social conservatives that after the Clintons were out of office that something like CEDAW would be put forward as a ratifiable document. For social conservatives to find out that this was something that could be ratified was shocking and disappointing. It galvanized every bit of opposition to express in no uncertain terms this is not something social conservatives can accept.'"
Bush Administration Connections
Bonicelli and Patrick Henry College "have had close ties to the Bush Administration and to private right-wing religious groups who form such an important part of President Bush's base. PHC students have been chosen to serve as interns for Karl Rove and for the White House Office of Public Liaison, and students and faculty are frequently invited to White House and inaugural events," Fisher wrote.
According to the November 19, 2005, USAID press release announcing his appointment, "[p]rior to his work at Patrick Henry College, Bonicelli was a professional staff member for the International Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and with a background consisting of both practical experience and scholarship regarding Latin American politics and U.S. foreign policy, he served on the staff of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. Development, democratization and the drug war were the main issues he worked on during his tenure at the Congress. In 2001 and 2002, he was tasked by the White House to serve as an official delegate to the United Nations.
"Previously, Bonicelli was an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Prior to receiving his doctorate at the University of Tennessee, he worked in electoral politics at the national level, and served as a researcher and analyst in Washington, DC."
- "Mexico's role in the Contadora process : increasing the deterioration of Mexico-U.S. relations." Imprint Virginia Beach, Va. : CBN University, 1987.
- Doug Domenech, "Hands off Our Children. The change in the U.S. position demonstrates the impact that one election can make," National Review Online, June 11, 2001.
- Sharon Lerner, "Saviors of the Children. Far-Right Bush Delegates Ally With Religious Conservatives at UN Conference," Village Voice, May 8-14, 2002.
- "U.S. Negotiates at U.N. Special Session for Removal of References to 'Reproductive Health Services,' Promote Abstinence for Preventing HIV/AIDS," Kaiser Network, May 9, 2002.
- Carol Lynch, "Christian right allies with Muslims in U.N. Bloc against abortion, expansion of gay and women's protections," Washington Post (San Francisco Chronicle), June 17, 2002.
- Bill Berkowitz, "Unholy alliances. Bush administration collaborates with Iraq and Iran in 'culture war' battles at UN," Working for Change, June 18, 2002.
- "Bush Team Trimming Clinton-like Decrees in U.N.," Agape Press, June 18, 2002.
- Michelle Goldberg "Yes to the Bible, no to the treaty. Worldwide, 169 countries have signed a treaty to ban forced marriage and mandate equal access to education for women. Now Christian-right allies of President Bush call it a threat to Mother's Day," Indymedia (Faultline), June 22, 2002.
- "The U.S. role in the UN convention"; "An anti-family agenda?"; "What does the UN document on the rights of the child contain?"; and "Why is this so important?", Home School Legal Defense Association, September 23, 24, 26, and 27, 2002. Radio links for interviews with Bonicelli on the "U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child."
- Andrew Buncombe, "The Bible college that leads to the White House. The campus is immaculate, everyone is clean-cut and cheerful. But just what are they teaching at Patrick Henry College? And why do so many students end up working for George Bush?" Independent (UK) (Common Dreams), April 21, 2004.
- Andrew Buncombe, "Thou shalt be like Bush," Independent (UK) (New Zealand Herald), May 1, 2004.
- Stephanie Simon, "Grooming politians for christ. Evangelical programs on Capitol Hill seek to mold a new generation of leaders who will answer not to voters, but to God," Los Angeles Times (condition.com), August 23, 2005.
- Stephanie Simon, "Institute seminars teach politicians to govern with Christ," Los Angeles Times (Fort Wayne Gazette), September 3, 2005.
- Alex Johnson, "Staying on the right side of a political movement. Conservative Christians — and their ideas — threaded throughout Bush administration," MSNBC, October 27, 2004.
- Rosalind S. Helderman, "Local College Dean Named To U.S. Post. Patrick Henry's Bonicelli To Help Spread Democracy," Washington Post, October 16, 2005.
- Press Release: "USAID Announces New Deputy Assistant Administrator Paul J. Bonicelli, Ph.D.," USAID, October 19, 2005.
- "Appointments," The Hill, October 27, 2005.
- "Saving Muslims from Damnation," The New Republic, November 8, 2005. Subscription required.
- Jake Herrara, "U.S. public diplomacy failing in Middle East," The Daily Cardinal, November 15, 2005.
- William Fisher, "Democrats, NGOs Assail 'Crony' Appointees," Inter Press News Service Agency, November 23, 2005.
- "Another Perplexing Bush Appointment," Rightwing Nuthouse, November 28, 2005.
- William Fisher, "By God, another awful Bush appointment," Daily Star (Lebanon), November 29, 2005; Tom Paine December 1, 2005, reprint: "Bush's Newest Crusader."
- David Corn, "Bush's Hellish Choice at USAID/Obvious and Not-so-Obvious Counter-Facts to Bush's Speech," DavidCorn.com, December 2, 2005.
- David R. Mark, "Oh My God! Bush Appoints Religious Zealot To Key USAID Post," BlogCritics.org, December 5, 2005.
- Bill Berkowitz, "Bush Administration mining fundamentalist recruits. The former Dean of Academic Affairs at the fundamentalist Christian Patrick Henry College is appointed to oversee USAID's democracy and governance programs," MediaTransparency.org, December 19, 2005.