Texas Governor Rick Perry held his Jeezuspalooza at a big sports stadium in Houston on Saturday. The event, officially called "The Response." was a shameless political gimmick by Perry to draw attention to himself as he prepares to run for President.
Thirty thousand individuals were bused into Reliant Stadium, a venue that holds over 70,000, for a day of prayer, and singing, and fasting. Perry stated that the purpose of the rally was to bring Christians together in prayer and to petition for divine assistance to help the nation emerge from its financial woes and other crises.
And, if in the process, he got some camera time doing his World's Greatest Christian routine, well, that was just gravy!
Perry invited all of the nation's governors to join him at his shindig, but only Sam Brownback of Kansas actually showed up. Brownback, like Perry, would love to be President, and, like Perry, sees Evangelical Christians as his political base. (Governor Brownback's office in Kansas was quick to point out that the governor was on vacation and if he showed up in Houston he would be traveling on his own time and his own dime.) Governor Rick Scott of Florida (of Medicare fame) sent a taped speech to the event.
But there were other dignitaries involved as well. Pastor John Hagee spit out some fire and brimstone as he stood next to Governor Perry on stage. Hagee is the pastor of the Texas Cornerstone Church of San Antonio, and his views, particularly on the evils of the Catholic Church, are so extreme that John McCain rejected his endorsement in the 2008 presidential race. Hagee once reportedly proffered the notion that Adollf Hitler was sent by God to kill Jewish people.
Mike Bickle, a founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, was also involved. Mr. Bickle has allegedly referred to Oprah Winfrey as a "pastor of the harlot of Babylon." (I'm not sure what that is supposed to mean, but I hear that his joint serves really great pancakes!)
Alice Patterson, who uses the title "Apostle," was on the stage with Perry. She is the founder of Justice at the Gate in San Antonio. Apostle Patterson has written that there is "a demonic structure behind the Democratic Party."
One other celebrity who reportedly participated at the Perry political rally was John Benefiel, the head of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network (out of Oklahoma - color me surprised!) who once complained that we had gotten the Statue of Liberty from French Freemasons and called it "an idol, a demonic idol right there in the middle of New York Harbor!"
Yes Siree Bob, they had some heavy duty intellectuals in Houston on Saturday!
Oh, and it wasn't a religious rally - it was a Christian rally.
Earlier in the week, fifty Houston religious leaders, led by the Anti-Defamation League, sent the governor a letter stating their concern that he was sending an official exclusion to non-Christian Texans.
And it was a rally to glorify Rick Perry. The Texas Freedom Network sent Perry a petition with 10,000 signatures accusing him of using religion for political gain. (Busted!)
Governor Perry, however, being an astute political animal, had the good sense not to use either his personal money or that of the state of Texas to put on the gimmick rally. The rent for Reliant Stadium was paid for by the American Family Association (AFA), which as been categorized as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) due to statements that AFA's Issues Director has made about gays and Muslims.
Governor Perry spoke to God and the voters for 13 minutes. (Thirteen? Ooo-wee-ooo!) As he chatted with God, the faithful listened:
"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. We pray for our nation's leaders, Lord, for parents, for pastors, for the generals, for governors, that you would inspire them in these difficult times."
That's all he wanted. Well, that and good hair.
One of the iconic photos of this rally shows a a woman with tear-stained face and hands uplifted to Heaven. She was wearing a tee-shirt that said: "USA Love Jesus." And that really was what this circus was all about - making connections between Christianity, patriotism, and Rick Perry.
Michelle Bachmann could not have been pleased. She, too, has staked out God (the Christian fundamentalist God) as her own personal campaign property. She is now advertising that fifty religious leaders and organizations in Iowa have endorsed her run for the Presidency. Bachmann, along with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, have all signed a pledge being strong-armed onto Republican candidates by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), vowing to fight allowing same-sex couples to marry and promising to use a litmus test for potential judicial appointees to make sure that they are as bigoted as NOM and the candidates who signed its hateful pledge.
And don't talk to any of these goobers about "separation of church and state," because they will tell you in a heartbeat that it is a misinterpretation of the Constitution - and given the chance, they will pack the Supreme Court with enough mental midgets of the Clarence Thomas variety to prove it.
Sinclair Lewis knew exactly what lay ahead when he said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
USA Love Jesus - or else!