Sunday, August 7, 2011

Politics and Religion

“Perry Leads Prayer Rally for ‘Nation in Crisis’” touted the article’s headline in the “Politics” section of the August 7 New York Times. It seems that before 30,000 people in Reliant Stadium in Houston, Saturday morning, August 6, Gov. Rick Perry, a lifelong Methodist, called on Jesus to bless and guide the nation’s military and political leaders and “those who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness.”

Perry reportedly had said that there would no long speeches, no banners, no signs. “You didn’t come here to listen to people preach,” he told the crowd. “You came to pray, and Jesus wants to hear your voice.” Perry read several passages from the Bible while people stood or kneeled in the aisles or on the concrete floor in front of the stage, some wiping away tears and some shouting, “Amen!”

He had invited fellow governors to join him, but only Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, a Republican, attended. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida made a video statement that was played in the stadium.

When I read the above article in The New York Times, I was stunned. Then, looking back at past elections, I recalled that George W. Bush in 2000 and again 2004 had used the churches to garner followers and votes. It worked. Then in 2008, a well-known preacher invited the candidates to be interviewed on television to specifically discuss their faith, essentially their “Christianity.” They were to demonstrate to the nation whether they were fit to lead, supposedly the only qualification being Christianity, as defined by these people.

Now we have come to the present governor of Texas and a “possible” presidential candidate holding a Christian rally that presumes that this country should be guided by Jesus and that its leaders be devout followers.

I wonder how many of the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves.
The position of the right-wing Christian movement currently enmeshed in our political landscape is disquieting. What is most disturbing is their insistence on making our government a “Christian” institution, and as displaying such intractable positions on many social issues. They view our country, no, the world, through a very small lens. It seems to be a case of “there is us,” and “there is them.” And every person who not a true believer is “them,” whether atheist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or agnostic, or for that matter anything “different.”

Until George W. Bush came into office, religion didn’t seem to be much of an issue with any of our presidents. If any of them were religious, they didn’t wear it on their sleeves, as Bush did, dropping euphemisms into his speeches to let other true “Christians” know he was one of them. That wall between church and state has crumbled so badly, we must start repairing it before it’s too late. History should have taught us by now that much of what is happening today does not bode well for the country.

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