America has seen its fair share of religious political leaders, but Rick Perry makes George W. Bush look like an agnostic.
From CBS News online:
On Saturday, Americans will get what for many will be their first taste of the man poised to shake up the race for the Republican presidential nomination: Texas governor Rick Perry. That’s when, on a sure-to-be-sweltering day in Houston, the faithful will gather in Reliant Stadium for Perry’s seven-hour “Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” The point of the event, dubbed “The Response,” is to help heal “a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.”
“With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis and people adrift in moral relativism, we need God’s help,” Perry says in an introductory video for the event. “That’s why I’m calling on Americans to pray and fast – like Jesus did.”
If there’s anything positive at all for which Perry can be credited, its his seemingly unwaivering consistency in his beliefs and his policies. He’s served as Texas governor for more than ten years, and his constituents seem pretty content, at least the Bible-believing born-again Christians. There does seem to be one detail where there exists some contradiction. Perry sells himself as a champion for state’s rights (what Republican doesn’t?), he still supports a constitutional ban on gay marriage. When asked about New York State’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage, he both applauded New York’s right to do what’s best for its citizens and declared that its decision still did not sit right with him personally. But that’s not too surprising considering his role as super preacher-politician.
The huge event being held on Saturday, interestingly enough, is largely funded by the American Family Association, according to the CBS article. The article reads:
The American Family Association is providing financial backing for the event, reportedly to the tune of an estimated $1.5 million; its spokesperson, Bryan Fischer, has made headlines for a series of controversial statements, including calling for a ban on Muslim immigrants and for gay men and women to “be disqualified from public office.”He has also tied homosexuality to Nazism.
Fischer is just one of the controversial figures affiliated with the event: Religious leaders supporting The Response have suggested that Hurricane Katrina was “the curse of God” (John Hagee of Cornerstone Church); described Oprah Winfrey as reflecting the “Harlot Babylon” and setting the stage for the antichrist (Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer); and called for the government to be placed under Christian control (C. Peter Wagner of the New Apostolic Reformation, Lou Angle of TheCall).
The rhetoric the American Family Association and International House of Prayer, which is cosponsoring The Response, prompted the gay rights organization The Human Rights Campaign to accuse Perry of aligning with groups that “seek to demonize” gay and lesbian people; 800 people have signed up to picket the event.
“Governor Perry has an almost uniquely close connection to a very, very far out Christian groups that don’t even speak for the majority of Christians, much less the majority of Americans,” said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Church and State, who is calling for Perry to cancel The Response.
Lynn added that Perry “seems to be very confused.”
“He is the governor of Texas – he is not an official preacher or prayer leader,” said Lynn. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which unsuccessfully sued President Obama over the National Day of Prayer, sued to keep Perry from participating in the event. That lawsuit was dismissed Thursday.
Eric Bearse, a spokesman for The Response and former Perry aide, dismissed criticisms of the event as “nonsense from the forces of secularism.” Asked if the event was for only for Christians, he replied, “It’s a Christian-themed event, [but] anyone can come.”
Generally, it is those politicians who are the strongest champions for Christian morality that have the darkest skeletons in the closet. Besides a few very questionable ties to Christian (and extreme) fundamentalism, Perry seems to be looking pretty good against Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman. Only time will tell how many skeletons the GOP can handle before throwing in the towel on this potential candidate.
Personally, I don’t want a candidate who supports a federal ban on same-sex marriage anywhere near the White House, considering all the hard-won progress that has just been made. That fact, coupled with his potent evangelical Christianity and the policies it might deeply influence, leave a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
You can read the CBS article in its entirety HERE.