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Ask Governor Perry

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According to an article in The New York Times by Manny Fernandez and Daniel C adis (1): "Standing on a stage surrounded by more than 30,000 Christians on Saturday morning, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas called on Jesus Christ to bless and guide the nation's military and political leaders and 'those who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness,' in a brief but rousing sermon-style spiritual address at the controversial prayer rally that he sponsored at the same time that he is weighing whether to run for president. 'Lord, you are the source of every good thing,' Mr. Perry said, as he bowed his head, closed his eyes and leaned into a microphone at Reliant Stadium.

'You are our only hope and we stand before you today in awe of your power and in gratitude for your blessings, and humility for our sins. Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger 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. . . .Like all of you, I love this country deeply,' he told the crowd. 'Thank you all for being here. Indeed, the only thing that you love more is the living Christ.' "

Fascinating stuff, but boy does it raise a lot of follow-up questions. I have listed a few of them here.

1. How should we address you? Governor, Reverend, Reverend/Governor, Governor/Reverend? Help. I'm confused.

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2. But gosh, in reference to the first question, since you are not ordained but known widely in Texas as a "preacher," is the title "Reverend" inappropriate in any case? So when you are doing what you did on Aug. 6 in Houston, should it be "preacher," or possibly just "preach?"

3. Tell me, Gov., or Rev. or preacher, or whatever, just what kind of Christian are you? Pro-choice, anti-choice (and there are both among Christians, as you well know [but of course many of your followers don't or don't seem to]), anti-death penalty (like the recently deceased, Catholic, former Governor of New York, Hugh Carey) or pro-, believer in the trinity or not, believer in the necessity of baptism or not, believer in the rapture in which, apparently, only certain kinds of Christians will be "saved" while the rest, and certainly the rest of us who are not Christians of any kind, will dammed to hell for all eternity?

4. Since you are a Methodist, just where do stand on ballroom dancing, including the Texas Two-Step?

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5. When you say "Lord, you are the source of every good thing," just which Lord are you talking about? Is that the Christian Lord (and if so, given the characteristics the vast number of Christian denominations give to him/her/it there seem to be a bunch of them) the Jewish one (and there are a few different denominations of Jews too, with rather different concepts of God), or Muslim (and as I am sure you know, Islam has three major denominations, Sunni, Shiite and Sufi). If one wants to believe you, they do have to know just which God you are talking about, don't they?

6. And while we are on that subject, what about that religion, one of the largest in the world, Hinduism --- you may have heard of it --- that believes that there are multiple Gods up there, or wherever. And who knows, could the Gods not be Zeus, Athena, and Poseidon, et al, or the Aztec, Inca, or Egyptian equivalent of same? Might not the question be, "Gods, you are the source of every good thing?" Of course, since no believers, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or what have you have ever been able to prove, other than always eventually falling back on "faith," that one or more God or Gods exist, as far as I as a Secular Humanist Jew am concerned there is/are none anyway. But that's another story.

7. Then there is the matter of: "You are our only hope and we stand before you today in awe of your power and in gratitude for your blessings, and humility for our sins." A) If "God" (however you might define him, her, it, or them) is (are) our only hope and has power in front of which we should stand in awe, that doesn't give us much hope, does it. After all, last April you led Texas in a three-day-long prayer for rain and rain didn't come. Man, that must have been disappointing. But I guess your approach would be "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again," no? B) How do you define "sin," and if your definition is different from mine, or even from that of another self-identified Christian, how do you go about reconciling them?

8. That last question is real important, Gov./Rev./preach. In the 16th and 17th centuries Christians in Europe killed each by the hundreds of thousands over disagreements on the matter and related subjects of religious doctrine (and did so in the Near East in the 3rd and 4th centuries C.E. over something that you may or may not have heard of called the "Arian Controversy"). Boy, I dunno. You do seem to be one of those "Christian Nation" types (see the next question). How do we know that under that doctrine, were it take over, let's say, the US Constitutional government, that Christians of various types would not eventually be warring on each other over such matters, just as they did back then? Things could get very messy, don't you think?

9. One of your supporting Revs. (blocking on his name right now), has said that the First Amendment to the Constitution (and I assume that, unlike Michele Bachmann who seems not to have, you have actually read it), applies only to Christians. What is your position on that unique (at least I've never heard that one before, but I must admit that I do not attend the church or churches in which it is proclaimed) Constitutional interpretation?

10. And the what about another one of your dear old supporters, the Rev. Hagee, who holds that the holocaust was God's way of forcing the Jews out of Europe to Palestine, to prepare the way to Armageddon and the rapture (which, unfortunately would not benefit any of them), and that the murders of the six million by the Nazis and their allies which just an unfortunate by-product of that policy? Oh yes, he also considers Catholics to be less than dirt. Do you think that the word "Christian" subsumes the "Catholic?" And while we're on this subject of who is a Christian and who isn't, some (right-wing) evangelical Christians like yourself consider Mormonism to be a cult. Especially since two of your potential rivals for the GOP Presidential nomination (to say nothing of the present Senate Majority Leader) are Mormons, where do you stand on that one?

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11. Finally, Rev./Gov./what have you, in 1996 there was a book published entitled The New Americanism: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001-2022. (If you might be interested, Gov., you can find it on Amazon and archived at .) In it (chap. 10), a fictional President named Jefferson Davis Hague, gave his Second Inaugural Address, from the National Cathedral on Washington, DC, on Dec. 25, 2008. He came from a combined religious/political background much like yours. I wonder what you would think of the opening paragraphs of his address (the whole, very lengthy address was based on the published thinking of many right-wing Christians speaking and writing in the early 1990s. As Casey Stengel often said, "you could look them up.")

"My fellow Americans under God. I stand here before you on the birthday of our lord Jesus Christ, anticipating in all humility the opportunity you have so graciously given me to continue to do His bidding as your President. And I can tell you that his bidding now is to continue to fight the good fight, for the Lord, and for you the American people under God.

"In fighting this fight, to the best of my ability, blessed by both our lord Jesus Christ and you, the American people under God, I am both pleased and privileged to be able to announce today the first step we of the second Hague administration have taken to do just that. We have converted our nation's leading political party, the Republican-Christian Alliance, the party of God-fearing people that has put you in complete control of the government here in Washington, into a brand-new entity.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)

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