I simply can’t understand why any religious person — or even somebody neutral about relgion — should be concerned that Rick Perry, quite possibly our next president, attended a prayer rally. Apparently there were about 30,000 people at the rally. Perry spoke as well as a number of ministers.
Here are some of the things he did.
–He prayed for President Obama.
–He said God’s “agenda is not a political agenda. His agenda is a salvation agenda.”
–He said God is “wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party.”
–Perry spent a lot of time talking about salvation and God.
Let me be clear here: I almost certainly will not be voting for Perry in the Republican caucuses in my state. I will probably be voting for Ron Paul, who is also a Christian who also (by the way) has attended religious/political events. The candidate I agree with the most is Gary Johnson, who says he believes in God but does not go to church and is not religious. (Even though I agree with Johnson more than Paul, my vote is likely to be most effective in sending a pro-libertarian message if I vote for Ron Paul, so that’s why I will probably vote for him — but the caucuses are many months away, so I could change my mind). But the point is I am not a big fan of Perry.
The angst about this prayer rally is very confusing to me. I just don’t get it. If you are anti-religious and hate all religions, yes, I could see how this could bother you. But if you are neutral about religion or are a religious person, I simply don’t get how this could bother you. If you disagree, please convince me.
Let me try to anticipate the concerns.
1)A sitting governor shouldn’t speak at a prayer rally. Huh? Politicians throughout US history have been attending and speaking at religious events. The list is way, way, way too long to bring here, but let’s just start at George Washington’s many references to religion and many public prayers and then go all the way down to Barack Obama’s attendance at prayer breakfasts. I like the fact that Obama is a religious man (without really caring what religion it is). So, where do we draw the line here? A politician can go to church quietly and privately, but not publicly? Who gets to decide what is public and what is private? Does it become public if he goes in the front door and doesn’t sneak in the back? Do we really want to have a country where politicians are condemned for being religious?
2)Some of the groups sponsoring the prayer rally are controversial. So what? You mean, controversial like this guy, whose prayer events were attended by Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama? The attached calls the pastor involved “shadowy.” Sounds ominous, right? I don’t even need to mention Jerermiah Wright, who wasn’t controversial at all (“GD America!”). My point is that there are plenty of “controversial” religious groups out there, and Perry doesn’t have a monopoly on this issue. My take: who cares? I think it’s very controversial that hundreds of millions of Catholic take the bread every Sunday thinking it is literally the body of Jesus Christ, but that kind of controversy falls under the category of “weird things about other religions,” a subject with which we Mormons are intimately familiar.
3)He could have attended without speaking. Really. Would that have been less controversial?
I just don’t get it. Could somebody please tell me why this is a bad thing?