As political wonks know, Rick Perry had a rather important weekend though there is some debate about HOW important it was..
For those who don't know, Rick Perry hosted a religious gathering of sorts in Houston, Texas called "The Response". It was advertised as a Day of Prayer for the nation's many ailments, both religious and not and not necessarily a political event since Perry began planning it shortly after being re-elected for a third term as Governor of Texas.
Without looking too deeply into the event, I initially thought it sounded like a nice idea regardless of my own religious feelings simply because Perry's call for prayer not just for the nation but also our elected officials (including asking God to guide President Obama) and such a good sentiment is pretty rare in America today. And I obviously wasn't the only one thinking such thoughts since many were saying this was just the kind of event to not only launch Ricky Perry's Presidential run (come on, we all know he going to do it!) and his wearing of his religion on his sleeve is exactly the kind of leader America needs.
However, after taking a closer look at the event in question, I am having second thoughts about both it's purpose and what impression it gives me of Rick Perry.
First off I should clarify a few things..Personally I don't much like Perry's stand on most social issues simply because I am not a social conservative plain and simple. However I do give him credit for his straight-talk attitude and his spine compared to most politicians today. You may disagree with what Perry says, but he leaves little doubt he believes what he says and won't back down from a challenge very easily, and I like that in a politician.
And his faith and attitudes, I believe, give Rick Perry a clear advantage over most of the declared GOP candidates with social conservatives (a very powerful force in the GOP nomination process historically) and his state's job growth is certainly something to brag about (though he always fails to mention his state has the 2nd largest state debt in the nation after California). The question is, did this weekend's religious event help or hurt Rick Perry's chances for the highest office in the land?
Lets first look at how big this event really was. Now to be honest, it wasn't a very big event considering how much it has been talked about and the man running the show with only 8,000 or so in attendance (though hey, that's more than twice the size of the town I live in!). The only thing is no major political figures actually showed up, the exception being Governor Sam Brownback (Vice President anyone?). Now that's not because Rick Perry didn't invite them, because apparently he invited about everybody under the sun but for whatever reason(s) they chose not to attend..and I may know why: One should always judge an event by who is sponsoring it.
The group that primarily sponsored this event (other than Rick Perry of course), was the American Family Association. Now don't let the simple name fool you, the AFA is a Christian Conservative group, and a dandy of one at that. It's not often I find an organization who I completely 100% disagree with on pretty much every issue you could ever imagine. I won't bore my readers with listing the entire list of things the AFA think is wrong with America so I just give you a short list:
1. Islam in America- "Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government." - Bryan Fischer, Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy
2. Religious Freedom- The AFA also believes Islam is not entitled to 1st Amendment Protection.
3. Homosexuality- Don't even know where to start on this one, but long story short: If your a company and you even LOOK at a Gay/Lesbian organization they will boycott you. Heck they even boycotted McDonalds for Christ's sake! (and yes I meant that pun intentionally)
4. Norway Massacre- While I am sure Mr. Fischer denounced the mass murder Anders Breivik's acts of violence a few weeks ago, he did admit that he believes much of what Mr. Breivik said about the problems of Europe are right, "Much of his analysis of cultural trends in Europe and the danger created by Islamic immigration and infiltration is accurate," and "Breivik’s angst was caused by the presence of so many Muslims in Norway and Europe, which he correctly observes is leading to ’cultural annihilation.’"
Not that any of this bothers most of the GOP candidates, most of whom have been on the AFA's radio shows recently.
I could go one all day about this group of bigots and filth but I digress..
So long story short, the AFA is a Christian Right group and they aren't looking to make any friends in the world, let alone America.
So the fact this group paid for Rick Perry's "The Response" pretty much sours not only the importance of this event, it also sours my opinion of Rick Perry a bit that he not only associates with such "people" but also is happy to have them pay for his day of prayer..But it gets better.
Another group sponsoring the event is the International House of Prayer (I am suddenly hungry for pancakes..), another dandy of a group whose founder Mike Bickle has stated in the past that Oprah Winfrey's tolerance and popularity is a foreshadowing of the apocalypse...I can't even make this crap up people..Read it for yourselves:
"The Harlot Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the Antichrist. The Harlot Babylon will be a religion of affirmation, toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement. They will feed the poor, have humanitarian projects, inspire acts of compassion for all the wrong reasons. They won’t know it, beloved they will be sincere, many of them, but their sincerity will not in any way lessen the impact of their deception. The fact that they are sincere does not make their deception less damaging. I believe that one of the main pastors, as a forerunner to the Harlot movement, it’s not the Harlot movement yet, is Oprah. She is winsome, she is kind, she is reasonable, she is utterly deceived, utterly deceived. A classy woman, a cool woman, a charming woman, but has a spirit of deception and she is one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the Harlot movement." - Mike Bickle
Listen, I never much liked Oprah either but the Harlot of Babylon? Come on, next you are going to tell me Obama is the Anti-Christ! Oh wait, they did already say that? Well there goes the neighborhood.
To be fair, I made up that last part about them saying Obama was the Anti-Christ (not that I would be shocked if they did), but clearly these people are not what you would call, eh, normal church folk.
So, after all this intolerance and idiocy, where does that leave "The Response"? Personally, I think the sponsoring of this event by such bigots and outright morons is likely going to scare off a good number of political independents (and also ensure no matter how much they complain, Liberals will vote IN MASS for Obama)and hurts Perry's chances in the General Election. Sadly, I doubt the inclusion of these groups will scare enough GOP voters to keep the nomination from Rick Perry should he decide to run. The other problem with such an event is most Americans are FAR more concerned with our crippled economy than social issues and the presence of such groups could distract voters for Rick Perry's economic message.
Now to be fair, it is possible Rick Perry doesn't share all the beliefs of these two organizations and may have just sucked it up because they offered to pay for the event..But I am not so certain and until he states such, I am suddenly quite uncomfortable with Mr. Perry as "President Perry"..much more than I was before this weekend.