Written by Don Byrd
Texas Governor Rick Perry has said some pretty outrageous things over the last year about the separation of church and state. Remember he was the presidential candidate who informed a young questioner that in Texas, both evolution and creationism are taught in public schools (If true, that would violate the U.S. Constitution).
Well he’s outdone himself, with some horrifying rhetoric, even for an election year. People For the American Way’s Right Wing Watch blog has the audio and the transcript of a conference call that included Perry yesterday. You may have thought the separation of church and state was the brilliant notion of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. According to Perry, the originator of this principle was actually…well, the Devil himself.
[T]his separation of church and state is just false on its face. We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God’s truth. You know, are we going to get up and say ‘you are going to vote for X’? No, but we’re going to talk about Christian values. When you think about the issue of life and protecting life, it’s so important that we as Christians put legislation into place, that we elect women that defend life. The idea that we should be sent to the sidelines I would suggest to you is very driven by those who are not truthful, Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven—is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.
Where to start?
So far as I can tell, nobody is suggesting that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena. Nobody. Indeed, there’s barely an open atheist in elected office anywhere in the country. And certainly the separation of church and state is not a doctrine that even remotely suggests “people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.” In fact, church-state separation dictates that no American be denied the chance to serve in the public arena because of their faith. Keeping the wall of separation intact is the best safeguard we have to prevent just the danger he sees.
So, what the heck is he talking about? Beats me.