Presidential candidate Rick Perry released the following commercial:
Only #RickPerry is bold enough to release a commercial affirming his lack of shame in belonging to the same religion as 83% of U.S. citizens, as well as insulting homosexuals, who amount to a whopping 1.5% Who will stand behind Perry as he faces such overwhelming odds?
There is apparently nothing nobler than serving in the U.S. military… unless you’re gay. What sort of fiends are we dealing with who wish to put their lives at risk for the safety of others, many of whom often vote to deny them basic rights? They must have some insidious master plan — like when the Legion of Doom pretended to be the Legion of Good.
Perry insists that Obama has launched a “war on religion.” It’s unclear what the president has done to attack Christianity (what conservatives usually mean when they say “religion,” just as they mean “heterosexuals” when they say “Americans”). The best I can come up with are any efforts for inclusion Obama’s administration has made for groups or belief systems that conservative Christians don’t like.
When Perry talks about kids not being able to openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school, he seems to have confused the United States with Sombertown and Obama with the Burgermeister Meisterburger from “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”
Christians have complained about the apparent secularization of Christmas (while taking their kids to see Santa at the mall) for years. The expression “war on Christmas” dates back to 2005 when Bush was in office, so yet another attack on the U.S. that occurred on his watch and for which conservatives blame liberals.
Children can pray in school. Teachers don’t smack a kid in the head if they spot them saying grace before a meal — and you might want to pray before eating a school lunch these days. What can’t occur is school-approved prayer. There are several logical reasons for this, as David E. Ross details:
- Non-sectarian prayers are impossible. A prayer is an expression of hope, praise, or thanksgiving directed to God. If religion is removed from prayer in an attempt to make it inoffensive to all religions, it become meaningless and offensive to those who are truly religious. A “sanitized” expression is no longer real prayer.
- Public schools are funded by taxes collected from persons of all religious beliefs. It is wrong to tax a person of one religion in support of the practices of another religion or to tax an atheist to support religion in general. It is even more wrong to tax parents to provide facilities and supervision where their children will participate in a religious activity that may differ from their own family’s practices. In any case, these taxes are collected to operate systems of public education, not public religion.
- A teacher’s direction, “Let us pray!” is insufficient. (For a government employee — a public school teacher — to give such an order is offensive.) True prayer (even for adults) requires a state of mind that is not obtained immediately upon command. Often, this state of mind requires several minutes of contemplation, ritual, or even hymn singing. Different religions reach this state differently. This is an inappropriate activity for a group of individuals with differing religious beliefs and practices.
- “Optional” prayer among children is not really possible. Peer pressure among children is very strong. They have trouble resisting pressures to engage in disapproved activities such as drinking alcohol and premarital sex. When officially approved and endorsed by government, pressure from peers to conform in prayer would be impossible to resist. In this manner, children will thus be led into an activity that may be contrary to their parents’ religious beliefs.
You can debate the Constitutionality and suitability of school-approved prayer — arguably not the best debate to have as the U.S. education ranking continues to drop, but you can’t claim this is anything new. It goes back decades.
Conservatives groups do point to Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill, which they claim was “an attempt to prevent religious practice in schools.”
According to the bill, which the Democratic-controlled House passed despite unanimous Republican opposition, funds are prohibited from being used for the “modernization, renovation, or repair” of facilities that allow “sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity.”
The American Civil Liberties Union pointed out that the restriction has “been the law since 1972,” when another famous Republican president
was in office. Perhaps Watergate was part of a then-11-year-old Obama’s far-reaching plan to curtail religious expression in the nation.
You know, all this talk about gays and prayer doesn’t come close to addressing any of the real issues the country faces (though, rampant homophobia and religious fanaticism are serious concerns). I would venture to hope that Perry realizes this, as well, and with his campaign faltering and having no real solutions to offer, he does what any desperate, shameless man would do:
You gather a group of middle-age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character.
If Americans believe in values and character, they should also know that you can’t build either by denigrating other Americans, other nations, other faiths, other orientations. What leader is remembered today for having invented enemies and threats of their own creation rather than going after the ones they help enable?
Rick Perry probably knows this, but as Andrew Shepherd would say, the problem isn’t that he doesn’t get it, it’s that can’t sell it.