Texas Governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s “Day of Prayer” has come and gone. Pundits the world over are opining, and both sides are claiming both moral and empirical victories. For Fundamentalist Christians, the event marks the potential ascension of yet another evangelical Texan to the White House. For non-believers and religious accommodationists, it is an unthinkable intrusion of faith into the public sphere.
There were troubling omens. Perry has apparently fully embraced the American Family Association, which is fast becoming America’s most powerful hate group. The AFA donated over $1 million to the event.
MegaPastor John Hagee took the opportunity to compare the current political climate to the Civil War. “We pray for our governor Rick Perry who has had the courage today to call this time of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the civil war.” (LINK)
On the other hand, there were signs that the support base for this kind of religious pandering may not be as broad as the governor hopes. Despite being held in the nation’s fourth largest city, in the heart of the Fundamentalist South, the event managed to fill less than half of Reliant Stadium. Between a lawsuit, protests outside the stadium, and planes flying atheist banners in the vicinity, there was substantial resistance. Many church groups registered their objections as well. (Thanks so much, Moderate Christians, for finally doing something visible to oppose these tyrants!)
Throughout the leadup to this event, the lion’s share of criticism has been geared towards the violation of church and state. And this issue is surely important — critical, if we are to preserve the very foundation of America’s birth pangs. However, there’s an element to this that ought to hit home for everyone, regardless of political party, and regardless of religious belief:
Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer and Fasting represents an empirical claim about the nature of the universe. Gov. Perry believes, or pretends to believe, that by gathering several thousand people together, leading them in prayer, and encouraging them while they dance in the aisles and enter quasi-hypnotic trances, the nation’s economic woes will be magically fixed, and that the clouds will open forth. This should be very disturbing to a lot of people.
In the history of economic depressions, there are a number of things that have proven effective at alleviating suffering. Among them:
- Changing the interest rate.
- Economic stimulus packages
- Job creation plans.
- Changes to the tax structure.
Droughts are a bit trickier. So far, the most effective method for producing rain has been cloud seeding.
The thing is, for either recession or drought, there is one thing that has never proven any more effective than wishful thinking, and that is prayer. Recall that Governor Perry has tried the whole “rain dance” route before. In April of this year, he called for not one but three days of prayer and fasting to try to call down some moisture from heaven. To date, Texas is still in the midst of the worst dry spell since 1895.
Let’s put this in plain language: Rick Perry has demonstrated his approach to governing. He has spent millions — literally, millions of dollars — to organize a bunch of people whispering magic words. That’s his answer to economic crisis. Where presidents like Franklin Roosevelt took drastic fiscal and social measures to alleviate suffering, this… clown… is organizing prayer meetings. And not only that, he’s organizing prayer meetings after the same technique failed miserably!
And he’s one of the leading hopefuls for the 2012 presidential election. And we wonder why we have an economic crisis.
- What to Expect From Rick Perry’s Prayer Festival (alternet.org)
- A Response to Rick Perry’s “Prayer” Meeting (pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com)
- See Protests Of Rick Perry’s Prayer Rally (lezgetreal.com)