The Usual Suspects

by Jose Medina

Gov. Rick Perry and his spokespeople have for a couple of weeks continued to claim that The Response, a Christian prayer and fasting event organized by the hate group the American Family Association and the governor, is not a political rally.

Gov. Perry can continue to make that claim, but the people he’s partnered with have no reservations about mixing religion and politics.

The listed organizers on The Response website include Jim Garlow. Garlow is the senior pastor at Skyline church near San Diego. For the 2010 elections, Garlow organized a 40-day period of prayer and fasting (sound familiar?) leading up to election day. He was also an advocate for the passage of California’s Prop. 8, the referendum approved by voters and later overturned by the court’s that would ban same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

Garlow’s website is also pretty up-front about his involvement with other far-right political leaders like Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, who are not shy about using faith as a political tool.

Another The Response organizer is David Lane, who is also pretty up-front about his views on mixing faith and politics, blatantly declaring on the The Response’s own website:

“What I do is spiritual. The by-product is political.”

Lane is one of the organizers of the Texas Restoration Project, established to mobilize conservative pastors for political purposes. The group periodically organizes “pastors’ briefings.” Gov. Perry has spoken at least a half a dozen times at these briefings. You can read more about the Texas Restoration Project in the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund report, The State of the Religious Right: 2006.

Wayne Hamilton, the former head of the Texas Republican party, has also been involved in organizing the Texas Restoration Project briefings and is listed as one of the organizer’s for The Response.

Not listed on the event’s website is controversial San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee, who in a YouTube video recently announced he will be participating in Gov. Perry’s event. Hagee endorsed John McCain for president in 2008, only to have the senator reject the endorsement. Why? Because of the kind of statements the AFA is know for. Hagee, among other things, claimed God sent Hurricane Katrina to stop a gay pride parade planned for New Orleans.

People of faith having political opinions is good, but when it crosses the line into implying that God has a political party (and candidates) that it favors and wants to win elections, that’s when we have a problem. That’s on par with a sports fan’s silly belief that God has a favorite team.

You can send a message to Gov. Perry. Tell him you are troubled by his association with a hate group and his continued insistence on using faith for political purposes by signing our open letter to the governor.