Rick Perry must be desperate. His ad claiming he will “end Obama’s war on religion” and “fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage” is so incoherent that it would be funny if it weren’t so scary.
“There’s something wrong in this country,” he proclaims in the ad, “when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Huh?
Barrack Obama’s faith is once again in the political cross-hairs.
Four years ago, elements of the religious right managed to convince about 12 percent of the electorate that Obama was a Muslim -- while also criticizing him for the sermons of his Christian pastor, Jeremiah Wright. This year, Obama has spoken several times of Jesus Christ being his personal savior. He referred to attendees at the National Prayer Breakfast as “my brothers in Christ.” He held an Easter prayer breakfast where he spoke about Christ. He even referenced Jesus while lighting the National Christmas tree.
“More than 2,000 years ago,” he said at the tree lighting, “a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep. But this was not just any child. Christ’s birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God’s love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant’s heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Yet it seems that nothing he can say will convince those who don’t want to believe he is a Christian. Instead, Perry says Obama’s plotting a “war on religion” and takes on gays in the military in the process.
Why does this all sound familiar? Because we’ve seen this movie before.
When Jimmy Carter ran against Ronald Reagan, the Rev. Jerry Falwell raised funds to finance radio attacks across the South claiming that Carter, a leader of the Southern Baptist Church and self professed born-again Christian, was in fact, not a Christian because he supported gay rights.
As Carter wrote in his book, White House Diary, Falwell lied, “by claiming that he met with me in the Oval Office and [saying] I told him I had to have homosexuals on my staff because there were homosexuals in the United States that needed representation in my inner circle. I never had a private meeting with him, he’s never been in the Oval Office, and I never had any such conversation.”
That didn’t stop Falwell from giving sermons about Carter’s support for gays. When journalist Jim Wooten, working on a book about Carter, confronted Falwell with facts that disputed his story, Falwell essentially admitted it was not true: “Have you ever heard of a parable? Well this is a parable,” Falwell said.
However, the millions of dollars spent on radio ads in the South attacking Carter’s faith had traction and clearly hurt him in the election. Jerry Rafshoon, Carter’s communications director, says it was Falwell turning against Carter that was the beginning of the religious right getting involved in political campaigns.
Now we’re seeing Perry, in a last gasp effort to save his candidacy, try the same ploy: attacking the president’s religious principles while using the wedge issue of gay rights to help make his point.
When radical Muslims issue Jihads, Christians are the first to ask why Muslim religious leaders don’t speak out against them.
It’s time to ask, why don’t Christian leaders speak out against the unintelligible rants of Rick Perry?
The terrifying fact is that Perry would not have said what he did in that ad if he and his staff hadn’t thought it would resonate with voters. And, as with Falwell and Carter, it may well. It may be too late to help Perry, but it could still hurt Obama.
Perry began his ad by saying, “I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Christian.” He ended it by saying, “Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.”
Let’s hope he’s right. Let’s have faith that the American people will not accept this kind of intolerance and bigotry any longer.
Sally Quinn | Dec 9, 2011 12:03 PM