Yes, @TheIRD, The Religious Left Does Fret Over Perry’s Prayers

Perry Event 2/1/2010

Image via Wikipedia

Today in my Twitter stream, a tweet from the Institute on Religion and Democracy (TheIRD on Twitter) ran across my stream announcing a post about the Religious Left ‘fretting’ over Texas Governor Rick Perry‘s ‘prayers’.

Now, while I don’t agree with some of the positions the IRD holds, particularly their claim that:

“…much of the religious left argue that the United States must have virtually unrestricted borders and offer automatic amnesty, with nearly all the benefits of U.S. citizenship, to all illegal immigrants.”

…they do do (hee hee) good work raising awareness, particularly in the areas of sex trafficking or the horror in Sudan.

I just wish they’d get past using “religious left” as a backhanded slur…. but I digress.

Yes, Christians of all stripes should view Perry’s prayer-palooza “The Response” with a slightly jaundiced eye.

Despite it’s claims of being open to people of all faiths, listening to the speakers, 99% conservative evangelicals 1% “Jews for Jesus“, it was obvious that this wasn’t an interfaith, or even an interdenominational gathering.

While we of the “religious left” have absolutely no issue with Gov. Perry being a man of faith, we do take issue with this unholy mixing of religion, one flavor of Christianity, and politics.

The religious right (read – Tea Party) often cites John Adams‘ call for a national day of fasting.  What they don’t tell you, which I detailed in a post not too long ago, was that Adams later realized this was a horrible, horrible mistake.

You see, almost without exception, the Founding Fathers all believed that, while faith is important, it should never be influenced by government nor should it ever influence government.  They knew, from their history, that wherever one sect, or even one faith, managed to wheedle itself into the halls of power, the church would be corrupted and it wouldn’t be long before the government traveled down the road to despotism.

Just look at the Pilgrims/Puritans in our own history.  Puritans wanted to ‘purify’ the church from within, while the Pilgrims, or separatists, believed the Church of England to be so corrupt, they began to separate from the established church and create independent churches.  While it’s true that the Massachusetts Bay Colony‘s laws were based directly on the Old Testament, it wasn’t long before the first flames of religious freedom began to burn with the founding of Rhode Island.

Throughout our history people of different denominations and/or faiths have been viewed as being “not American” enough.  Even well into the 20th Century, with JFK in the 1960 election, there were rumors swirling about that Kennedy would be taking orders directly from the Pope.

I have no problem with Gov. Perry being a Christian.  I do, however, have problems with his scientific illiteracy and his pandering to one particular population within Christianity at the detriment of other Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, etc.

That in my view, and the view of many of the Founders, is not American.

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