I have a new column at Patheos on Perry’s “prayerpalooza”:

Asked in 2002 how his faith influences his politics, Rick Perry replied, “I don’t think it does, particularly.” But at the massive prayer rally he hosted in Houston on Saturday, the sitting governor of Texas prayed, “as a nation, we have forgotten who made us.” The deeply political assumptions of the event paraded past all day long, proving that the Perry of 2002 either had a problem with the truth or, like his predecessor in the governor’s mansion, has a debilitating incapacity for self-reflection.

Perry and his fellow religious-right candidates for the GOP presidential nomination may genuinely believe their messianic notions are private matters, that they can preach to 30,000 fellow believers about re-installing God as the invisible leader of the nation and still not be seen primarily as prophets of a reactionary political theology. They may be right. Evidence suggests that the mainstream press only comprehends them as kooky, delusional, and perhaps provincial figures, rather than rational actors with ideas fundamentally opposed to liberal democracy. But that is what they are—a reality made all the more tragic by the fact that the contradictions of liberal democracy created them.

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About The Author

David Sessions

David Sessions is the founding editor of Patrol, and is currently a doctoral student in modern European history at Boston College. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, Newsweek, Jacobin, Slate and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter here.

0 Responses to On Rick Perry’s Public Prayer

  1. Scott says:

    “The deeply political assumptions of the event paraded past all day long, proving that the Perry of 2002 either had a problem with the truth or, like his predecessor in the governor’s mansion, has a debilitating incapacity for self-reflection.”

    Or, you know, maybe the man has changed in the past 9 years. That would be a more generous reading of a man you almost certainly don’t know.

    David, does your faith influence the way you write about people? I’m asking this seriously, as it seems (to me) that you are much more influenced by your politics than by your faith.

    Do you really believe that the stigmatizing of religion out of any kind of respectability is purely a “well-intentioned effort to bolster…(the American) system”? I mean, wow. What would be the odds that all the elites who are trying to destroy the respectability of religion are well-intentioned?

    And why do you twice call Perry’s (and yours, I’m supposing) God an “invisible deity.” I’m confused. Are you a Christian? Do you believe in an “invisible deity?” To you pray to this “invisible deity” to bring peace to cities, states, countries, the world? Is Christianity “divine speculation?”

    Scott

  2. Kathy says:

    “We are uncertain how to accommodate the realities of religion in the public square. We don’t have the answer, but we can be sure Rick Perry has the wrong one.”

    My undergraduate days at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are very (VERY) long gone, but I dimly remember at least six or seven classes on this very topic. Abraham Kuyper, Herman Dooyeweerd, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Harry Jellema, and, more recently, Richard Mouw – didn’t they all do scholarly yet accessible work on the interaction between faith and the public square? To the best of my knowledge, none of them ever had a program on cable television asking people to send them money, so perhaps this explains why they’re not as well known today as others who are involved in bringing religion into politics?

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