Texas Governor and former Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, called upon “Christian warriors” to “stand (their) ground” against President Barack Obama. His remarks are both unconstitutional and potentially dangerous.
Raw Story reports:
During a conference call with evangelicals on Tuesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) called upon “Christian warriors” and “Christian soldiers” to “stand our ground” against President Barack Obama, who he said is trying to ”remove any trace of religion from American life,” a message inspired by “Satan” himself.
Perry made the comments during a conference call with pastors and evangelicals nationwide, as first cited by Right Wing Watch. He was taking part in an ongoing religious campaign called “40 Days to Save America.” Other participants in the calls this week include Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), and even former Jack Abramoff co-conspirator Ralph Reed.
Introducing his guest, pastor Rick Scarborough, one of the “40 Days” organizers, credited the governor’s spirituality with ending the Texas drought. (Update: The Texas drought is actually still going on.) But it was Perry himself who did the real preaching.
In audio published to the campaign’s website, Perry claims that the constitutional provision which guarantees the right to religious freedom actually drives faithful Christians out of the public sphere. “This iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face,” he said.
I’m glad you said that, Governor Perry. I’d like to tell you, though, that it violates your oaths of office. I’ll explain.
When Governors-members of the executive branch of the government-take office, they are required, per paragraph three of Article VI of the Constitution, to take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Unfortunately for Mr. Perry, using religion as a reason not to vote for Obama isn’t constitutional, and while that would be okay for a private decision, publicly making such an admonition violates the oath taken to uphold the Constitution. As he said, “this separation of church and state is just false on its face.”
Now, we can’t be certain if he was referring to Article VI or the First Amendment, which states as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Although it really doesn’t matter. Secularity in government is extremely important. Let’s pretend, for a moment, that Perry’s correct and the founding fathers were big fans of religion (Christianity, in this case). Okay, so no more Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Pikkiwoki worshipers, or any other religions are permissible in America now. Well, which branch of Christianity will we listen to? The U.S. alone has over ten thousand sects. Saying we aren’t a secular nation is pure idiocy.
However, Perry is not right. Our founding fathers, while some were religious, were secularists above all. If the founding fathers intended us to be a Christian nation, I doubt they would have put those bits in the Constitution.
Just in case, here are some quotes from a couple of them:
“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
“To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise…without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.”
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
“As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legends, have been blended with both Jewish and Christian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed?”
“I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”
“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”
“Lighthouses are more useful than churches.”
Excerpt from the Treaty of Tripoli; drafted under George Washington and signed by John Adams:
“As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
While you can contend that not all of them are founding fathers, the point stands. They didn’t support Christianity (I could go on with quotes but it’d be the longest article ever). Rick Perry and the religious right have no idea what they’re talking about.
Another dangerous statement is the rhetoric regarding ‘Christian Soldiers’ and ‘Stand our ground.’ While he meant it (it seems) as a spiritual remark, there is a distinct possibility that the anti-government streak that is re-emerging in southern conservatives might have a more serious aspect to it than we would generally suspect. The gun-loving, Confederate-flag toting bible-thumpers of the south might take his meaning a little too literally should the time come. Raw Story weighs in:
Though Perry called for a “spiritual” war and not actual violence, suggesting that “warriors” and “soldiers” must “stand our ground” against the president is touchy rhetorical fodder, especially considering the wave of controversy that washed over the country following the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, claims he acted in self defense and initially couched his defense upon a law better known as “stand your ground,” although his attorneys have taken a different course since then. The laws became a touchstone due to their racial implications, and studies have found that states with “stand your ground” laws are more likely to accept the killings of blacks by whites as justified.
The Tea Party Amendment X obsession won’t help with this either; they have a pre-Civil War view on the Tenth Amendment that is part of the GOP platform 2013 and does not bode well for us as a country.