Prayer and Fasting. With Politics on the Side?

Big news over the weekend: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced that he’s hosting a Christian prayer rally and day of fasting this summer in Houston.  He claims the event  isn’t political. But if that’s the case, why is the event being hosted by, well, a politician — in particular, a politician with possible presidential aspirations and who has a history of using faith as a political weapon to divide voters? And why was a documented hate group — the American Family Association — picked as the event’s main funder and organizer?

This won’t be political? We’ll see.

We’re referring to the news that broke during the weekend regarding “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis,” a prayer event planned for early August at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. Gov. Perry is apparently the main host for the event and has invited the nation’s other 49 governors to attend.

If this is in fact a nonpolitical gathering of Christians practicing their faith and praying for a better future for the country and the world, then more power to them. But if this will be a “we pray for (insert political goal here)” event, then it becomes divisive, and it should trouble all of us that the governor of Texas and potential presidential candidate treats God as a registered Republican.

In fact, the way this event has thus far been billed indicates this prayer rally will not be free of politics. The event’s website, including the glossy intro video, is full of apocalyptic language, calling the United States a “troubled nation” whose knees are “buckling” in the face of a “historic crisis.”

“Why is this happening now?” asks a woman in the intro video. She’s a followed a few moments later by a man asking, “Who is responsible?”

This is how Gov. Perry characterizes it on the event’s website:

“Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

We’ll remind you that this is the same Gov. Perry with ties to the Texas Restoration Project, a political front group whose “pastor’s policy briefings” have been the venue for more than a half-dozen speeches by the governor. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund documented the Texas Restoration Project’s cynical efforts to turn churches into parts of Gov. Perry’s political campaign machine in a 2006 report, “The Anatomy of Power.”

Gov. Perry’s past activities with these faith-politics hybrids are not unlike the activities of the leadership for this summer’s event. That leadership includes David Lane, who is quoted on the event’s website as saying, “What I do is spiritual. The by-product is political.” There is also Wayne Hamilton, a former executive director of the Texas Republican Party, former aide to Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton and executive director for Perry’s inaugural committees in 2003 and 2007. Another organizer is Bob McEwen, a Republican lobbyist and former Congressman from Ohio.

We’ll be watching to see what comes of this later this summer — it’s sure to give us a glimpse of what type of presidential candidate Gov. Perry will be, if in fact he does become one.

11 thoughts on “Prayer and Fasting. With Politics on the Side?

  1. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I don’t understand why they don’t ask their god for forgiveness for the myriad of sins they have committed against this state?!?

  2. Impending doom is hardly a Conservative specialty, the world has been going to Hell for millenia. That includes energy crisies, global warming, ecological disaster, globalization, global thermonuclear war, and the Blackburry plague.

  3. For Governor Good Hair fasting means having two servings of cowboy beans at the BBQ buffet instead of four.

  4. Every now and then, I’ll flip through the religious channels and see what they are talking about. There was one last week—don’t know the name of it—in which the host talked about Rick Perry’s proclamation to pray for rain. The host then said that after this proclamation, Texas received all of this wonderful rain and everything was fine now.

  5. Perry’s Houston event is being funded by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization that’s been classified as a “hate group” by Southern Poverty Law Center for its continued promotion of false, anti-gay propaganda, as reported by Mother Jones magazine. I urge all to go to Bryan Fischer’s web site. He is AFA’s issues director. Some of his extreme statements: gays caused the Holocaust, gays should be banned from holding office, homosexuality should be criminalized and the extreme belief that foreign Muslims should either be exterminated or forced to convert to Christianity. This fits right in with Perry’s belief that Texas homosexual conduct statute which criminalized gay sex was a good law and should not have be overturned by the Supreme Court. It is shameful that the Governor of Texas aligns himself with these extreme crazies – if it wasn’t so sad, it’d be funny.

  6. We need to spread the word amongst all Texans being conned by Governor Perry – associating with a hate-mongering group is certainly antithetical to democracy and our State’s best interests.

  7. We will be there across the street, or where ever they will “let” us stand, with our pride intact while we protest the anti-American “prayerfest” with apparently only Gov. Sam Brownback…go figure.

  8. I would like to protest on Saturday morning, August 6th. I’m not on Facebook, so I don’t know about any coordinated efforts to protest. Is there a way I can find out about groups planning to protest?