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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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There Is No Victim Card In The Religion Discussion

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:00 am, October 14th 2011     —    2 Comments »

Rick Perry finds himself under continued fire for his association with Robert Jeffress, who is looking increasingly foolish.  I thought this issue dead, but it turns out Jeffress not only has a problem with Mormons, but Catholics as well:

The head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is calling for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to cut any and all ties to Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress, over comments Jeffress made last September that are considered to be “anti-Catholic” in nature and for his recent Mormonism is a “cult” comments.

Bill Donohue, the president of the Catholic League, which defends Catholicism, issued a statement Wednesday denouncing the Baptist pastor.

[...]

At the heart of the issue are comments Jeffress made on his Pathway to Victory radio show. Last year, (the) Rev. Jeffress said the Roman Catholic Church was the outgrowth of a “corruption” called the “Babylonian mystery.” He continued, ‘Much of what you see in the Catholic Church today doesn’t come from God’s word. It comes from that cult-like pagan religion. … Isn’t that the genius of Satan?

The fact that Perry will not repudiate a guy that accuses the Roman Catholic church of being somehow Satanic has got to be a matter of religious conviction on Perry’s part.  I know people for whom that is a matter of religious conviction, and I frankly cannot conceive of any other reason to put forth such a close-minded viewpoint.  But there is no place for such things on a political level – none.  If Perry wants to have any political future on the national level, he has got to put a lot of distance between himself and Jeffress and he has to do it now.  So far, his refusal to do so still stands.

What we were greeted with yesterday, was Perry’s wife playing what amounts to the religious victim card:

“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press,” Perry said, according to NBC News. “We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”

You can see the video of her here.  Now I supposed that makes some sense if the religion-based-slams for which they have taken such a pounding are rooted in their personal religious convictions, but it also belies a deep misunderstanding of how religion and politics intersect in this nation.

Furthermore, Mrs. Perry just sounds like a cry baby.  Their camp insults Romney on the deepest possible level by asserting that “Mormons are not Christians,” and they are being victimized for their faith!?  That is a flat-out Obama-level blame dodge.

I desperately want Rick Perry to come out of this whole thing respectably – I really do.  There is a lot to admire about the guy – he has done an incredible job in Texas.  It would be a shame for the final label he takes out of public life to be “religiously small minded” rather than “great governor.”  But he is going to have to run, not walk, away from Robert Jeffress if he is to have a prayer of being so favorably labeled.

Quick update from Lowell:

Just this morning George Stephanopolous of ABC News posts Rick Perry Agrees With Wife, He Has Been Brutalized for Christian Faith:

I spoke to a feisty Rick Perry this morning who said he agreed with his wife’s comments that his campaign has been “brutalized” because of his Christianity and Perry came out of the gates attacking Herman Cain’s now famous 9-9-9 plan.

“I’ll stand by my wife. I think she’s right on both cases. My understanding is that she said I’m the most conservative candidate in the race and ‘he’s a Christian.’ So I haven’t got anything I can add to that and she’s hit me on my mark both times there,” Perry said on “GMA.”

It looks like Perry has decided to ride that victim horse.

John Mark here:

My Dad wanted Rick Perry to win and there is still some dim chance this could happen. Perry has money enough for one more shot. Otherwise he will be remembered with Gramm and Thompson as the guy who was going to be great until he was and then . . . he simply wasn’t.

Perry is, by all accounts, a good governor. He worked himself up to a high position and I honor that. He is a good public servant. Now his wife bemoans his treatment in the media. She claims the secular elite do not like Evangelicals.

Sadly, his wife is right. He is attacked for his Evangelical faith. He is held to a higher standard and assumed to be “stupid” when he is not. He is vilified more than he deserves by the media, because they don’t like people of faith.

They hate Evangelicals for the very things we have in common with Mormons: belief in God and in the supernatural. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in the media philosophy, but they pretend otherwise.

The same standard applied by his pastor friend is applied by the media to any person of faith. Jesus was right as always: we end up judged by the judgment we use.

I take no pleasure in seeing Perry struggle. He should have joined Governor Romney in decrying the bigots, but instead tried to use one.

Now the Governor of Texas is reduced to having his wife tell a hard truth that nobody can hear from this particular messenger.

Yet another missed opportunity in a campaign of missed opportunities: the epitaph of the Perry campaign.

Lowell adds . . .

A few bits and pieces from around the country:

The weight of commentary seems to be firmly against Pastor Jeffress and, by implication, Gov. Perry.  Daniel Ruth of Tampa’s St. Petersburg Times has an interesting, if uncharitable, view of Jeffress, who seems to be coming out of this episode very much discredited. Dick Polman of the Philadelphia Inquirer is also pretty tough on Jeffress. Lisa Miller, writing at the Washington Post’s Belief Watch blog, thinks Romney should actually emphasize his Mormon faith and the related positives. (We think that would be a mistake, believing as we do that Romney’s religion is largely irrelevant to his qualifications for office.)

Jim Geraghty wonders this morning, Why Can’t Any Rival Take Mitt Romney Down a Peg?

I think I’d ask the Romney skeptics to recognize that maybe Mitt’s got some game, or at least some discipline, which is a vastly underrated trait in a candidate. This has been the cycle where all the non-Mitt options took turns imploding. First Newt begins his campaign by going on a cruise and most of his staff quits. Then Michele Bachmann suggests that a vaccine causes retardation. Then Rick Perry stumbles through three debates so badly that by the fourth he’s expressing exasperating that everyone around him keeps arguing “whether or not we are going to have this policy or that policy,” and nobody even blinks that he’s bothered by the presence of policy debates at a policy debate. At this rate, next month Herman Cain will be apologizing for offering sausages made from endangered species as topping options while running Godfather’s Pizza.

Finally, Larry Sabato doesn’t think Romney’s Mormonism will end up stopping his candidacy:

“So Romney will have a tough time getting [Evangelical Christian] support, a tough time getting fundamentalist support in, say, South Carolina. But I think it’s also true that, if he’s the Republican nominee, overwhelmingly, over 90 percent plus of those fundamentalist Christians, will end up voting for Romney,” he predicted.

“They’re not going to sit out the election, they’re certainly not going to vote for [President Barack] Obama.”

Other than misusing the term “fundamentalist,” Sabato seem to have been reading this blog.

 

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