Rick Perry has ramped up his conservative rhetoric a lot lately. In what seems to be a hail mary attempt to capture the hearts and minds of hardcore right-wing voters, Perry has attacked President Obama, accusing him of waging war against religion, and has attacked gay rights as well. On Sunday, during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox, Perry gave the Christian Right more red meat when he expressed his undying support for a constitutional amendment for prayer in schools. Here’s the transcript from Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: You say that gays can serve openly while children can’t pray in school. It was the Supreme Court back in 1962 that decided and it’s been upheld since then that children couldn’t pray in school. Barack Obama had nothing to do with that. And after repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” are you saying that anyone who supports “don’t ask, don’t tell” is anti-religious?
PERRY: Well, let me back up and say that I would support a constitutional amendment that would allow our children to pray in school any time that they would like. Right now, those activist judges like Sotomayor and Kagan that he put on the Supreme Court, they would continue to say that that is a decision that the Supreme Court should make. I happen to believe that that would be a local decision and that’s not the Supreme Court’s business to be telling Americans when and how they should pray.
On the issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” it was working. And for the commander-in-chief to use your military as a political tool while we are in combat in two different locations — at least two different locations around the world, in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think is just irresponsible. I am commander-of-chief of 20,000 plus thousand men and women. I served in the United States Air Force. I understand the issue. And I don’t think it’s one that the president of the United States and Congress for that matter should be forcing upon the men and women of the military. I think it was bad public policy and I would change it.
WALLACE: The only point I’d make about prayer in school, is that has continued under — the ban under Republican presidents as well as Democrats, including Reagan and both of the Bushes.
PERRY: I understand that. I’m just — I’m telling you what I believe, Chris. And I happen to believe that Americans don’t agree with that decision that was made in 1962. And that if we have a constitutional amendment election in this country, allowing our children to pray in school, I would suggest to you, will pass overwhelming. And I’ll support that. I will go across this country, as I’m promoting a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. I’ll work on a balanced — I should say, an amendment to allow our children to pray in school. I think Americans are greatly supportive of both of those issues.
Here’s the video:
Perry didn’t specify what such an amendment would actually mean. Would teachers have to lead their classes in prayer? Would classes be required to have a moment of silence? Perry didn’t give additional details so we really don’t know. What we do know is that the government ban on school prayer doesn’t keep students from praying in private or quietly to themselves. It simply bans state sponsored prayer and religion in public schools. Because America has freedom of religion, the Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that mandating prayer and Bible readings, which would alienate people who aren’t Christians, violated the First Amendment. But it doesn’t stop students from praying silently. It simply protects all students from having religion forced upon them. And frankly, religion doesn’t belong in schools at all. Religion is controversial and creates conflict. America is not just populated by Christians. Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Mormons, and atheists live in America too. Forcing the Christian religion upon students would only alienate kids that sometimes already feel left out. Public and state schools should be all-inclusive and they are, all thanks to the Supreme Court. Rick Perry only seeks to divide people and please his masters on the Christian Right. Rick Perry wants state sponsored religion. He supports a totally unconstitutional position and therefore is unqualified to be President.