This morning, Governor Perry appeared on FOX News promoting his divisive message by continuing attacks on other people’s faith and beliefs that don’t look like his.
HEMMER: What do you mean by that last phrase, “Obama’s war on religion,” Governor?
PERRY: Well if you sit down with the bishops and archbishops of the Catholic Church, they can give you a very clear understanding of how this administration has gone after their charitable operations, on whether it’s trafficking in individuals or whether it’s those hospitals and those clinics that choose not to do abortions because they have a conscious reason not to and it’s their belief and their faith not to give those abortions – so there’s a clear attack on the Catholics in particular from that perspective.
But when you think about the left in general, which the president is obviously a great part of – not allowing our kids to pray in school, not allowing to celebrate Christmas. I mean, the idea that the left continues to send the message of listen – we, our First Amendment right is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. And that’s what the left has tried to do, is force all of us who are people of faith to basically say you can’t be involved in the public arena. And that is just wrong.
Yes, the Obama administration is going to have differences with some of the Catholic bishops. But that doesn’t mean it’s a war.
The Governor should know that if he was elected President he would have some big problems with the bishops as well.
Remember when Perry boasted about how many people had been executed in Texas? And how the crowd responded by cheering?
Catholic social teaching directly opposes capital punishment. The fact that Perry disagrees with the bishops on an issue central to Catholic teaching about a consistent life ethic is one thing; the fact that he boasts about his support for the death penalty takes that disagreement to a whole new level.
The big attack on Catholic charitable organizations this year came from Perry’s own party. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been at the forefront of the Circle of Protection fighting budget cuts that would devastate the work of Catholic charitable organizations across the country.
If Governor Perry wants to stand up for Catholic charitable organizations, the first thing he should do is oppose Congressman Ryan’s budget plans. Ryan’s plan released in April would take nearly two-thirds of its cuts from programs serving low-income people.
If Perry were Catholic, more than a few priests out there might be annoyed that a member of their flock who that makes $1 million in a year but only gives $100 of that to the church.
There are some people out there, on the right and left who don’t want religion in the public arena. Normally, they have a good reason because there have been so many examples of religion-in-the-public-square executed poorly.
Ads and statements such as Perry’s only exacerbate the situation.
Faith can play a positive role in public life but situations like this make it harder for us all to do that well.
Tim King is Communications Director for Sojourners. Follow Tim on Twitter @TMKing.