Rick Scarborough Rides Again

by Dan Quinn

We haven’t heard from the president of the far-right, Texas-based group Vision America for a long time. But today Pastor Rick Scarborough sent out an email blast blaming the nation’s debt on immorality and promoting Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Saturday prayer rally in Houston as a step toward solving the problem:

“Billions of dollars are required every year to assist in paying for the lack of responsible behavior in our nation, whether it is in fighting various sexually transmitted diseases, welfare, various assistance programs for those in poverty, etc. I lay the blame at the feet of both the politicians and the preachers, for their unwillingness to address the moral disintegration of our nation. Add to these indisputable facts that our courts have declared war on God. Seldom has a day passed in recent years that someone, somewhere, does not file a lawsuit seeking to ban any mention of the God who gave us our freedoms from the public square. Tragically, few if any, even among Christians, truly fight to end this madness.

Could it be that God has decided to do what so many have demanded…to just leave us to ourselves? Could it be that He is withdrawing His hand of blessings from the most blessed of all nations, America? If so, then our only hope is that He will be gracious to forgive our national and personal transgressions and once again, bless our land.

That’s why the debt crisis and the prayer meeting at Reliant Stadium in Houston on August 6th are directly linked. “

The belief that welfare recipients and assistance programs for the poor are the causes of federal overspending has long been a shibboleth on the right. But someone might want to tell Scarborough that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and defense are, by far, the biggest drivers in the nation’s budget. Are our senior citizens immoral, Pastor Scarborough? Our military servicemembers?

Scarborough also praises Gov. Perry for hosting the Houston prayer event, The Response. He accuses critics who see the governor as exploiting faith for political gain of being “atheists” who want “to prevent anyone from praying”:

“A Governor of a Southern State, my own Governor Rick Perry of Texas, has courageously called for a day of prayer and fasting for the nation on Saturday, August 6th, and immediately he fell under attack as a religious bigot for announcing that while all faiths are welcomed, this prayer meeting would be in ‘Jesus’ Name.'”

Actually, we think Gov. Perry has every right to encourage others to join him publicly in prayer. But he is governor of all Texans, not just conservative evangelical Christians and nakedly partisan supporters who want him to run for president. His decision to have a hate group and an assortment of anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic religious extremists organize his event is the primary reason so many people see him as misusing faith to divide rather than unite Americans. Gov. Perry isn’t a religious bigot, Pastor Scarborough, but he has chosen to share a stage with many who are.