In case you didn’t have the time (or the willpower) to follow Texas Governor Rick Perry’s grandstanding prayer rally this Saturday, here is my list of the top five most divisive and/or outrageous statements made during the televised prayer-fest.
5. Public Schools Should Bring Back Prayer and the Ten Commandments
“Lord, I pray that we might see a reinstating of the display of the Ten Commandments in our classrooms. I pray Lord that we will again see freedom to pray in our classrooms.”
Vonette Bright, a co-founder of CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) whose work has helped establish the National Day of Prayer, received huge applause when she said this. The rally’s attendees apparently believe it’s crucial for all schoolchildren – regardless of their religious backgrounds or lack thereof – to be reminded daily to respect the Sabbath, to worship only the god of Abraham, and to not covet their neighbor’s “male or female slave, or ox, or donkey.” Clearly. Since any individual student (or teacher) is free to pray to themselves during school, Bright's comment about "freedom to pray in our classrooms" must actually mean "freedom to force everyone to say a Christian prayer together."
4. Jews Should Convert to Christianity
“Tens, even hundreds, of thousands of Jewish people in the last decades have come to their Messiah. And so Lord, we pray for the revival around the world, and for Israel to come to their own Messiah.”
This “gem” came from Pastor Don Finto of the Caleb Company. According to Right Wing Watch, the sentiment that Jews should embrace Jesus was not isolated on Saturday. In fact, another rally sponsor, the International House of Prayer “actively encourages Jews to convert to Christianity.” Remember when the rally organizers said that people of all faiths were welcome at this event? Well, they were welcome—but apparently so the attendees and organizers could persuade them to convert to their religion instead.
3. Humanists Can’t Be Good Without God
“In the humanistic culture, people are talking about love without reference to Jesus Christ.”
Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City, was outraged – outraged! – that so many people can feel, share, and even talk about love without placing it in the context of his religion. Maybe he should take a minute to check out the American Humanist Association’s website and learn what humanism really is. It might do Bickle some good, especially considering his next quote. It’s a hum-dinger.
2. Jesus Was Anti-Gay Marriage and Anti-Choice
“There’s a crisis of truth in the pulpits today in our land. That, in the name of tolerance, even in the name of love, we are redefining love that is not on God’s terms. Jesus is god. There is no other god than Jesus. Father, son, and Holy Spirit. All the world religions, they can say what they say. There is no other god besides Jesus. There is no other standard of truth. Jesus alone is the standard of truth. He defines morality. He defines marriage. He defines life. He defines righteousness. And in our allegiance to him, we say what he says. It’s time to come out in the open. It’s time to go public. Regardless what it costs us, we love you Jesus! The only god!”
That’s Mike Bickle again. Where to begin? Well, I’m no Bible scholar, but I’m pretty sure Jesus never said anything about gay marriage or abortion, so, as Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches observed, it sure is convenient that Bickle claims Jesus defined these things exactly “the way that Bickle does.” Notice the certainty with which he says Christianity is the only “standard of truth,” but every other religion in the world is wrong. The rest speaks for itself.
1. God Is Not Political (Says the Would-Be Presidential Candidate Hosting the Prayer Rally)
“His agenda is not a political agenda. His agenda is a salvation agenda … He is a wise, wise god, and he is wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party. Or for that matter, He is wise enough to not be affiliated with any man-made institutions.”
Yep, this one is from Governor Perry himself – and he’s exactly right! “God” has no reason to be affiliated with man-made institutions like government, public school, marriage, the doctor’s office, or prayer rallies. Wait a minute … then why did a sitting U.S. governor host a prayer rally so people could ask God to intervene in all these man-made institutions?!
Oh, that’s right. Because – as various news sources report today – Perry plans to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in the next week or two. I wonder if he’ll stick to that line about his God not having a political agenda come debate time.
UPDATE: Sources now report Perry will announce his campaign intentions Saturday.