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When Texas became a republic in 1836, its constitution banned “ministers of the gospel” from holding any political office.
Our problem these days, however, is not ministers in office, but politicians posing as ministers, literally seizing the pulpit to preach and proselytize. To see such Elmer Gantryism in action, look no further than the showboating Texas governor, Rick “The Pious” Perry. Embarrassingly inept at governing, he has lately turned to prayer as his official solution for all problems. I don’t mean a quiet, contemplative kind of praying, but garish public displays.
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In April, with a Biblical-level drought and some 800 wildfires ravaging the state, Perry’s gubernatorial response was to proclaim three “Days of Prayer for Rain.” The days came and went, but no rain. Presumably, Rick was praying up a storm, but not a drop fell from the heavens.
Undeterred, the gubernatorial padre simply doubled down on prayer politics. Proclaiming August 6 as a “Day of Prayer and Fasting,” he invited all other governors to join him in Houston for a seven-hour prayer-a-palooza, dubbed “The Response.” It’s billed as “a nondenominational, apolitical, Christian” event to unify all Americans by calling upon Jesus “to guide us through unprecedented struggles.” Wait… Jesus? What about all those Americans who’re Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or other faiths? No room at the inn for them?
Adding to this PR fiasco, Perry’s co-sponsor for The Response is the American Family Association – a Mississippi-based extremist outfit infamous for bashing gays and Muslims.
The governor’s spokeswoman loudly insists that his Prayerfest “doesn’t have anything to do with [Perry’s presidential ambitions]” – which, of course, means that it does. But I’m fairly certain that God doesn’t want anything to do with this goober’s show.
“Sonogram bill, Austin American Statesman,” June 1, 2011.
“Gov. Rick Perry Wants Texans to Pray for Rain,” www.jonathanturley.org, April 24, 2011.
“Perry invites officials to pray,” Austin American Statesman, June 7, 2011.
“Texas burning ‘from border to border,'” www.cnn.com, April 20, 2011.