Jacksonville Daily Progress
Governor Rick Perry’s call for a Christian day of prayer and fasting such as described in the Book of Joel is scheduled for August 6th at Reliant Stadium in Houston. According to Perry, the goal of the prayer meeting is to publicly implore God to guide our nation out of its morass of unprecedented financial ills and political misery. I hope that Governor Perry’s public display of Christianity is not just to manufacture and manipulate a fundamentalist Christian base for his own political gain. I hope the prayer meeting will not become divisive, pitting Perry’s fundamentalist Christian doctrines against other mainstream Christians, or Jews, or Muslims or the beliefs of other Texas voters who don’t share Perry’s political views. The zeal with which Governor Perry publicly thumped his chest when calling upon Americans to dump our nation’s problems into God’s lap reminds me of Carl Sandburg’s poem entitled, “To a Contemporary Bunkshooter.” Sandburg had obviously experienced sincere ministers teaching the word of Jesus and compared that message to staged performances at traveling tent revivals. Remembering one staged revival in particular, Sandburg wrote, “I like a man that’s got nerve and can pull off a great original performance but, you – you’re only a bug-house peddler of second-hand gospel- you’re only shoving out phony imitation of the goods this Jesus wanted free as air and sunlight.” Sandburg went on to say that he didn’t require a lot of gab from bunkshooters mixed with his religion. A politician’s private prayers may not get votes, but they may get responses from God. A politician’s private prayers such as President Lincoln’s invocation of God’s will during the Civil War or even President Jimmy Carters’ repeated self question: “What would Jesus do?” serve useful purposes. But, Perry’s very public display of Christian piousness at this time appears as if he is using religion to spur his political horse out of the gate and into a full gallop for the upcoming Presidential race.