Should we be concerned that Rick Perry attended a prayer rally?

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 is Rick Perry speaking at the rally:

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?

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

25 thoughts on “Should we be concerned that Rick Perry attended a prayer rally?

  1. It’s bad for the Liberals and Atheists, because God forbid that anyone publicly states that there is a God! (sarcasm). It’s controvertial to people because it hinges upon Satan’s plan to take religion out of the public square, which the Atheists want.

  2. For the record, he didn’t just attend and speak at the rally, he organized it. Nonchristians and nonevangelical Christians might wonder why he is more concerned with organizing a huge event at which they don’t feel welcome than he is with running his state. But that will just make them less likely to vote for him, so perhaps it is a good thing after all.

  3. I don’t know that I’d feel welcome, I have a feeling most of the people there wouldn’t consider me Christian. I sure we’ll find out if both he and Romney are still around in February.

  4. Thanks for the clip of Rick Perry. Don’t know much about him, but he’s got a great delivery, he’s handsome, and he looked very presidential. There is something so dominant about him, powerful, almost iconic. I’ll be interested to see if he jumps into the Presidential race.

  5. You are missing the whole point. He did not just ATTEND, he ORGANIZED the thing. Politicians of all kinds routinely attend religious functions. So you are in effect making a molehill out of a mountain.

  6. John C, your position is much more logically consistent, but how much you wanna bet that we will be reading dozens of stories in the days/weeks saying Rick Perry organized/attended/spoke at a “controversial” prayer rally without actually analyzing why and if it is legitimate to call it controversial?

  7. Geoff B.,
    The reasons you should be concerned with Rick Perry have much more to do with his political positions than ought else. That he organized an Evangelical prayer meeting and invited noted Anti-Mormon preachers to it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It could, but it doesn’t have to. But yeah, his politics are far more worrysome than his religious activities. At least, up to this point.

  8. “He said God is “wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party.””

    My question is, if this is the case, why should I (well, I don’t actually)? My desire is to do things that God would do, or at least be progressing on the path.

  9. Wow, just watched it. I know I accept a different style of preaching and religion. But he really seems like he is grandstanding there. And of course, he is grandstanding. But to me, I don’t know how I can disconnect the BoM definition of priestcraft from what he is doing. I have a hard enough time of disassociating politics in general from priestcraft, but this setup seems entirely about getting personal status and gain.

  10. It rubs me the wrong way. I agree that it seems like grandstanding/priestcraft. He is the governor of a state, organizing a sectarian religious event to pray for the country. I can imagine that for those immersed in a southern evangelical culture it might seem very comfortable, but I doubt many people outside that demographic would really feel like part of the group at an event like this. I think the message is “vote for me because I’m an evangelical.”

  11. From a news writer (who, by the way, is from Texas):

    “The big brains gathered east of the Hudson and Potomac Rivers believe that Mitt Romney is the candidate to beat. But they are unable to hear what Rick Perry is saying. The Christian prayer rally in Houston was a very loud proclamation to fundamentalists and Teavangelicals, which said, ‘I am not a Mormon.’ The far right and Christian fundamentalists have an inordinate amount of influence in the GOP primary process and, regardless of messages of inclusion, very few of them will vote for a Mormon.”

    Can’t say I know enough about Texas and the rest of the South to verify this, but if it’s true, and if that was actually his message, then yes, we should be concerned.

  12. Chris, Tim and E, I have to say, as a Mormon who grew up in California and now lives in Colorado, Rick Perry’s style is very different than mine. He definitely has that good ol’ time religion feel about him. BUT, and this is a big but, I simply don’t buy the line that he is sending any specific messages here to anybody beyond the usual messages that a politician sends. If Mitt Romney goes to an LDS ward on a Sunday when he happens to be in Iowa, is he sending a message, or is he just going to church? If Jon Huntsman (now the favorite Mormon politician of all Bloggernaclites — but if he won the Republican nomination they would turn on him in a second), goes to a Congregational church or a Catholic church rather than a Mormon church on a Sunday, is he sending a message?

    Look, we have reasons to suspect and dislike most politicians (except of course Ron Paul 🙂 ). But sometimes we need to give people a break. I just don’t see any signs yet that we can worry about Perry for this particular event. There are other reasons to worry about Perry. He is consulting Cheney and Rumsfeld on foreign policy — let’s worry about that, which is real cause for concern. If Perry makes any anti-Mormon hints like Huckabee did, I will denounce him in no uncertain terms. I’m not ready to do that yet because I see no signs of that.

  13. I guess Its a bad thing because were not all mormons right??? wrong!!! sum of us actually have a personal “relationship” with our savior and Lord Jesus Christ, than just a religion, so praise God Almighty!!! to Him be the glory,honor and praise forever n ever!!! Oh, wonderful and Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit who guides to all truth blessed art thou..

  14. No we shouldnt be concerned that rick perry went to a prayer rally… We need more people praying not just for the country but for the world this world is in desperate need for God since it is He who created it all and everything in it and out of it under it and on top of it…only He knows how to bring it together for His kingdom the one and only Almighty God of who our Holy Bible is written and inspired by the father of our Lord And Savior Jesus Christ God of gods Lord of lords King of kings the one and only true and everliving God!!! He is who the world needs and this could only happen if we get a president who puts himself under God and in Gods word, a strong man of God like one of the apostles with the exception of judas escariot

  15. JESUS IS LORD!!!!!! nomatter who becomes president now or in the future the prophecy in the Bible will be fulfilled and the Lord will prevail, praise God Almighty!!! To Him be the glory and honor forever in Jesus Mighty name,AMEN,AMEN AMEN!!!

  16. I am not at all concerned about Perry speaking at a prayer rally. It helps a little that it came before his announcement. It would be a little strange afterward, something vaguely comparable to Mitt Romney giving a general conference address.

  17. The problem I have with a public servant organizing an event for one religious denomination and speaking at the event much as a preacher might lead his flock in prayer is that Perry is mixing religion with politics. His speech offended me deeply because he used religion and people of faith to further his own agenda as a politician. In addition to finding it offensive, I also think it’s dangerous to mix religion with politics. Our country affords us ample opportunity to practice whatever religion we wish to. We don’t need religion in our politics. And when a politician uses religion as Perry did on this occasion, he crosses a line from serving the people to serving himself.

  18. I disagree Kartha B., but I disagree. A politician and hold whatever religious rally they want. They can be as non-echumenical as possible. It might bother you and others enough not to vote for them. However, when a person is voted in that doesn’t mean they can no longer be who they are and do what they want as an individual. They can even make laws based on their religious convictions. Separation of Church and State, contrary to its critics, does nothing more as interpreted currently than strangle freedom. It shuts people up and tells them to hide in a closet.

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