Perry’s prayer ‘response’ a clear publicity stunt

After toying with the media and his constituents for months, Rick Perry has dipped his toes in the waters of the 2012 presidential race. And just like every other candidate on the grocery list of staunch conservatives that have put down their name for consideration, he’s sold himself to the evangelical Christian right. This is common and expected, but Perry’s national day of prayer is the most overt, and frankly disturbing, attempt at attracting this audience I’ve ever seen.

Not only does this fly in the face of separation of church and state, it only serves to more deeply divide a people that is already so deeply divided that Texas can’t decide whether to fund its public schools and the national Congress is arguing over whether to let our country default on its debt.

The national day of prayer, dubbed “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis,” is being bankrolled by the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has long listed as a hate group for their blatant anti-gay bigotry. But don’t worry, anti-gay isn’t the only thing they are down for. Don Edmond, president of that organization, was appropriately labeled an anti-Semite by both the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the leader of the Atlanta office of the Anti-Defamation League in the late 80s after Edmond said that Jews controlled the television and movie industry and purposefully filled movies and TV shows with anti-Christian messages.

The event also lists sponsors from the International House of Prayer and Lou Engle’s TheCall, which “played an active role in supporting anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, where legislation under potential consideration would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death in some circumstances.”

That’s one crack team of sponsors, Perry.

The event is also only Christian in nature. In his statement on the website, Perry says, “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

Right, Perry. We must “come together” – but only if we are straight and Christian. Since about 22 percent of that “nation” you speak of is not Christian, and about 9 million Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, Rick Perry has left out a large chunk of the United States on this day of “unity.”

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Tim Wildman of the American Family Association acknowledged that one of the goals for the event was to pray for an end to the “debasement of our culture” – referring to the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in society. But yes, let’s “come together.”

The gathering is based on the Book of Joel, in which people were punished by God with locusts and drought for living a hedonistic lifestyle. The people then came together with offerings and prayer, and God rid them of their punishment.

So what’s the problem with Perry’s little theory about our new gathering of prayer? Our current problems, like the terrorism Perry mentions on his homepage, are largely caused by cultural misunderstandings and an inability to work together to solve obvious problems that face our country. And Perry’s straight, Christian gathering will only cause more of that division and further cultural misunderstandings – especially given the group he has chosen to ally himself with.

I mean, honestly. What are you doing here, Perry? If you wanted to hold a day of prayer, was there not a less anti-gay, anti-Semitic Christian group you could have done it with? I can name five off the top of my head that would be less controversial than this one.

For a Republican who prides himself on understanding the long term, this is a very short sighted and naive venture. But maybe his long term has nothing to do with unity or cultural understanding, and has everything to do with winning the presidency on the backs of the thousands of devout Christians that will flock to this event and then flock to the polls next November to vote straight ticket Republican.

What happened to presidents who valued the idea of separation of church and state? What happened to presidents who felt it inappropriate to throw their religion in the faces of those that may not agree with him?

What I really want out of presidents is what John F. Kennedy said in his speech before he was accepted as the first Catholic president:

“I believe in a president whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation, nor imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.”

Instead, for whatever reason, the United States has descended into a nation that, instead of taking pride in its “melting pot history,” only accepts those that happen to pray to the Christian god and sleep with someone of the opposite sex.

Congratulations, Perry. This event might win you the Republican nomination or get you close to it, but it will only further divide a nation whose division is leading to all of the problems you claim to be fixable by prayer. And if, God help us, you take office in January of 2013, America better be prepared to pray all over again – to whatever God they choose and with whatever partner they happen to share their lives with.

Posted by on June 10, 2011. Filed under LGBT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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