Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rick Perry the heretic

By David Bozeman

Whenever mainstream pundits identify a conservative as a Christian, brace yourself, the ax is about to fall. Even some right-wingers sneer that Rick Perry is Christian, and, if confrontation appears imminent, they all hide behind their solemn veneer of looking out for the voters, dutifully fulfilling the public's right to know.

Columnist Dana Milbank recently countered his Washington Post colleague Perry Bacon's comment that Rick Perry's victory “would cement the Republican Party's shift from Bush's approach to a more libertarian, anti-government GOP.” Replied Milbank, “[Rick Perry] is no libertarian. Rick Perry is a theocrat.”

Oh, really? So, “Christian” cancels out “libertarian” and vice-versa? Milbank's column recalls the governor's book from 2008, On My Honor. Perry elaborates on his faith in Christ and assails the left's assault on the Boy Scouts (for their stances against homosexuality). Perry also condemns the ACLU and universities that teach that corporations are evil, religion is the opiate of the masses and morality is relative. Even human rights commissions, according to the governor, are often fronts for attacking institutions that teach traditional values.

For some, the problem with Rick Perry is not that he endorses a religion but that he endorses the wrong religion. If he were an evangelist for the liberal church, preaching for taxes on the rich, further stimulus spending, cap and trade legislation and any or all of the rest of the state-certified catechism, no one would issue dire warnings of a creeping theocracy.

The point here is not whether or not Governor Perry is sufficiently libertarian or conservative to be president. The pertinent question here is who controls the narrative. Commentators who derisively dissect a conservative's faith instantly cast themselves as forward-thinking rationalists, always enlightened and ever above the conflicts of the day.
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