Texas Governor Rick Perry has declared that he just might be interested in running for the Republican presidential election in 2012. But how could Perry get the kind of attention he would need to win Republican primaries? It’s not as if America has good memories of the last Texas Governor who the Presidency.
Governor Perry has chosen to go down a path well worn by Republican presidential aspirants in the past: Co-opting the energy of Christian religious fervor into support for his own personal ambitions.
Perry has helped the American Family Association, a right wing Christian evangelical group, to organize a big prayer rally in Houston. Perry’s given the event an official Texas state government endorsement, even though only Christians will be able to participate – for non-Christians to take part, they’d have to agree to go along with the Christian religious rituals at the event.
Secular Americans are rightly disgusted by Rick Perry’s use of the power of government to push Christianity on other Americans. They resent a state Governor turning his office into a church pulpit that that treats non-Christians as second class citizens.
Christians and secular citizens in Texas have some common ground, however. Many Christians are also upset with Rick Perry’s move to establish Christianity as the single official state-endorsed religion of Texas.
Some Christians have not forgotten the 6th chapter of the book of Matthew in the Bible, in which Jesus exhorts his followers not to make a conspicuous public display of their prayers: “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Rick Perry talks a lot about privatizing social welfare, and about Christian values, but the fact is that Perry himself gives a pittance to the Christian social welfare projects he claims can replace government programs.
Many Christians see that Rick Perry is dealing cheaply with their religion, and promoting the most superficial, uncompassionate aspects of Christianity, decreasing the value of the Christian identity. These Christians don’t want Rick Perry’s theocratic crusade to continue any more than secular Americans do.
Let secular Americans and reasonable Christians make common cause – and oppose the political ambitions of Governor Rick Perry. There’s some momentum to work with: only 9 percent of Texas Republicans think that Rick Perry ought to be the next President.