I fully expected the Gray Lady’s stable of op-ed writers to disparage the prayer event at which Texas Gov. Rick Perry appeared on Saturday. Afterall, a good portion of Times staffers and readers disapprove of overt religious displays and are uncomfortable with presidents who wear their faith openly. (Oh, the howls from elites when George W. Bush declared that Jesus was his favorite philosopher!)
I have my own concerns about the prayer event (which I will discuss in a later post), but the complete lack of understanding demonstrated by Frank Bruni’s column on the event made me wonder if he is hostile to, or simply ignorant about, Christian evangelicals.
Bruni admits that he and his ilk in the news media “don’t really get” events like the one in Texas. So why write on it? And why disparage it as a “spectacle”? Then he lets loose this nonsense: “Seeking relief from the country’s woes through a louder, more ardent appeal to God strikes us as too much hope invested in too magical a solution. It suspends disbelief and defies rigorous reason.” Did a single speaker or participant voice the view that divine intervention was a political strategy? Of course not. In fact, the message was quite the opposite.
Perry said to the crowd:
His agenda is not a political agenda, his agenda is a salvation agenda. Brother C.L. [Jackson], you and I have had this conversation. He’s a wise, wise God, and he’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party, or for that matter, he’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any man-made institutions. He’s calling all Americans, of all walks of life, to seek him, to return to him, to experience his love and his grace and his acceptance, experience a fulfilled life regardless of the circumstances. I want you to join with me as I share his word with you:”
Perry also told the gathering:
Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see angers in the halls of government. And as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness. We pray for our nation’s leaders, Lord, for parents, for pastors, for the generals, for governors, that you would inspire them in these difficult times. Father, we pray for our president, that you would impart your wisdom upon him, that you would guard his family. We pray for our military and the families who love them. Father, especially, for those special operators who lost their life . . . [Friday] in defending our freedoms.
In other words, these people are not confusing faith with politics, let alone with the debt-ceiling debate. It is Bruni who is out to lunch.
Most egregiously Bruni concludes: “Faith and prayer just won’t cut it. In fact, they’ll get in the way.” Charming. Anti-religious pronouncements from a holier-than-thou guardian of liberalism. And if we are going to throw out the prayerful, I guess President Obama needs to be jettisoned.
You do have to laugh at this drivel given the new Times editor’s proclamation: “In my house growing up, the Times substituted for religion.” No doubt it did.
It’s apparent that Bruni’s take on matters of faith is hobbled by ignorance and bias, not to mention a lack of careful study. Perhaps he and his like-minded columnists who really don’t “get” open displays of faith should stick to other topics. They certainly don’t have anything of consequence to add to this important topic.