TAG | Rick Perry
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges — but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion…Dubbed the “Merry Christmas” bill, the bipartisan measure sailed through the state House and Senate to reach Perry’s desk.
It removes legal risks of saying “Merry Christmas” in schools while also protecting traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, as long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
It is, of course, sad and stupid that there can be “legal risks” associated with exchanging Christmas greetings in schools. If the new law fixes that, it’ll be all to the good, but quite what makes a “secular symbol” eludes me. I’m with the atheist shoemakers in Berlin who said this:
There are already hundreds of symbols for atheism and none of them tickle us in quite the right place… either they’re too sciency, or too literal, or just plain ugly… Well, our solution is inspired by a Christian friend (thanks Matt) who accused us of having god-shaped-holes. And we think a gaping, BLACK HOLE is absolutely perfect… And what says “I believe in nothing” better than nothing?
Quite. But it’s difficult to imagine a black hole nestling between the manger and the menorah. There is, however, another candidate, jovial, genially syncretic and refreshingly appreciative of the joys of consumerism.
Yup, Santa would do very well indeed.
Kathryn, I agree with you that Rick Perry would be well-advised to put some distance between himself and Rev. Jeffress, but William Donohue, a man who once said that “radical atheists” should “apologize” for Hitler (almost certainly not an atheist, incidentally) is perhaps not the individual best placed to object to those who would “demonize” theological difference. That said, Mr. Donohue is, of course, perfectly entitled to his views about atheists or anyone or anything else, just as others are entitled to rebut them. We are too nervous about robust religious debate in this country. If someone happens to believe that another’s religion (or irreligion) is “false” or, for that matter, the work of Old Nick, what of it? What matters is not what people believe, but what they do, and if they can agree to differ in a reasonably civilized manner that ought to be enough. Tolerance is the acceptance, however pained, of difference, not its denial.
So what should Perry do? These rituals of apology/distancing (call it what you will) have become an unpleasant part of today’s PC circus (and that’s PC of all political persuasions). That’s a shame. Nevertheless, we are where we are and the governor should explain that when it comes to matters of faith, Jeffress speaks for Jeffress, not Perry, and leave it at that. If Perry is then asked more questions about what he thinks about such questions, he should explain.
On the wider topic of whether a presidential candidate’s religious affiliations should be something that should be immune from comment and criticism, the answer is no. If a candidate insists that his or her God is central to who they are and what they believe, that’s a fair enough thing to say, but, under those circumstances, it’s no less fair for voters (or political rivals) to ask what that might mean for how that candidate might act as president, and, if they don’t like the answer, to say so or vote so.
Whoa. That’s something George W. Bush never did. Bush never said he had a Christian duty to stand with Israel, because to say such a thing would have been stupid and dangerous. By framing U.S. foreign policy in terms of a religious alliance between Christians and Jews, Perry is validating the propaganda of Islamic extremists. He’s jeopardizing peace, Israel, and the United States.
Bush understood that the terrorists who struck us on 9/11 wanted a religious war. The key to defeating them wasn’t to wage that war, but to refuse it. That’s why Bush constantly praised Islam, emphasized American freedom of religion, and dismissed Osama Bin Laden as a renegade killer of Muslims.
Israel was part of that rhetorical struggle. Bin Laden routinely invoked the plight of Palestinians to rally Muslims to his side. He accused the West of waging a “Zionist-Crusader war” against Islam. He warned Muslims: “Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors. They are but friends and protectors to each other.”
Go back and look at Bush’s comments about Israel. In eight years, he never mentioned his Christianity as a basis for his policies there. He defended Israel as a democracy and an ally. When he mentioned Judaism and Christianity in this context, he always included Islam. “The Middle East is the birthplace of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” Bush said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee a few months before 9/11. “Lasting peace in the region must respect the rights of believers in all these faiths.” In 2007, Bush told Al Arabiya: “I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. … I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace.” Again and again, Bush affirmed: “If you’re a Jew or a Christian or a Muslim, you’re equally American.”
Perry has trashed this legacy. By declaring that “as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel,” he has vindicated Bin Laden’s narrative. Across the Muslim world, Perry’s policies—starting with his declaration that “it was a mistake to call for an Israeli construction freeze” as a precondition for talks with the Palestinians—would be seen as a Christian-Jewish alliance against Islam…
“Vindicated”, of course, goes too far. Nevertheless those few words by Perry look like a rhetorical gift to America’s enemies. Coming from a man who wants to be president, they show a startling naivety and a dismaying irresponsibility. And if he actually believes what he said, well…
As a reminder, Governor, regardless of your own religious beliefs, however sincerely held, under a Perry presidency—or any presidency—America’s foreign policy must be shaped by one thing and one thing only: the national interest of the United States. In this context, “directives” from God ought to be an irrelevance.
And there’s another thing, Governor. Allies, however close, will occasionally disagree. It happens. Resolving those disagreements will be a matter of negotiation. When it comes to negotiating with the Israelis, however, you have already shown your hand. We now know that, thanks to your God, you will be a pushover.
Not smart, not smart at all.
These comments by Rick Perry are attracting a certain amount of attention:
QUESTION: To what extent do you view America protecting Israeli as a theological priority?
PERRY: Well obviously Israel is our oldest and most stable democratic ally in the region. That is what this is about. I also as a Christian have a clear directive to support Israel. So from my perspective both as an American and as a Christian, I am going to stand with Israel.
Think Progress somehow managed to omit the crucial first two sentences of Perry’s reply. Nevertheless, that third sentence is, to say the least, striking.
Here’s Ann Coulter:
Amid the hoots at Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry for saying there were “gaps” in the theory of evolution, the strongest evidence for Darwinism presented by these soi-disant rationalists was a 9-year-old boy quoted in The New York Times. After his mother had pushed him in front of Perry on the campaign trail and made him ask if Perry believed in evolution, the trained seal beamed at his Wicked Witch of the West mother, saying, “Evolution, I think, is correct!”
That’s the most extended discussion of Darwin’s theory to appear in the mainstream media in a quarter-century. More people know the precepts of kabala than know the basic elements of Darwinism…
And that’s one of the least [insert appropriate adjective: there are many to choose from] sequences of this gimcrack screed, to which the only reply worth the time spent typing it is whatever.
I suppose one has to accept that its author, a smart and distinctive writer (and, I should add, certainly one with whom I frequently disagree), actually believes what she is writing, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the suspicion that amongst some, at least, on the right a quick bit of Darwin-bashing is seen as an easy way of boosting their conservative credentials still further. The equivalent of so much resonant and confused leftist rhetoric, it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t do anything and (hopefully) it won’t change anything, but it sounds good on stump, page and screen. It cheers the faithful. It rallies the crowd. It sells the books.
It’s likely not the response Rick Perry was expecting.
Earlier this year, the Texas Governor called on Christians across the U.S. to come to Houston for a prayer event aimed at bringing God’s help to a “nation in crisis.” Organizers of the religious gathering, dubbed “The Response,” say only 8,000 people have registered on-line to attend this Saturday’s event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, a venue with a seating capacity of 71,000.
Eric Bearse, a “Response” spokesman and former speech-writer for the potential GOP presidential candidate, says attendance numbers are a non-issue.
“Not concerned whatsoever. We think it will be a powerful event whether it is 8,000 or 50,000. The only people concerned about numbers are press,” Bearse said.
A message from Texas governor, and possible GOP presidential hopeful, Rick Perry:
Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. 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.
Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response. Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.
I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.
The language of politics will always reflect the traditions and the culture of the constituency to which it is designed to appeal, but, blimey…
Incidentally, check out Joel 2 (King James Version), if you haven’t already done so. It’s bonkers, of course, but rather beautiful.