America, On Your Knees

Imagine this scene: 3 million Christians brought together in Washington DC in 2013 by incoming President Perry – to pray to God to stop warming the climate and promising in return to stop sinning: having abortions, practicing homosexuality – even same sex marrying.

Since Perry announced his disbelief in man’s contribution to climate change and has attributed the hurricanes, tsunamis, droughts, floods, earthquakes and fires (best of all) to God, the Texas governor called a prayer meeting in Houston.

On August 7, standing on a stage surrounded by more than 30,000 Christians, Perry – picture Burt Lancaster playing Elmer Gantry — beseeched 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.” His address to the prayer rally, which he sponsored as he “weighed” his decision to run for president, characterized the man and his constituency.

In the cadence of televangelists, dressed in his tailor-made duds, and with the solemnity of a Jerry Falwell, he looked toward the sky: “Lord, you are the source of every good thing.” Perry then lowered his head, with eyes closed and put his mouth to the microphone. “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.”

Perry then read Bible passages. “There is hope for America,” Perry’s website says. “It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”

Members of the public rose; others fell to their knees. Some let tears pour down their cheeks; others wiped them away. Heads nodded. Voices shouted: “Amen!”

Perry absorbed evangelical modes of communication in his Texas pores, mixing Jesus and flag as interchangeable icons. “Like all of you, I love this country deeply,” he confessed. “Indeed, the only thing that you love more is the living Christ.”

If Perry’s honesty competed with religious rhetoric, he might have added money to convert his love duet into a ménage a trois. Behind his rally and his candidacy stood the American Family Association pushing its collage of ultra right evangelical doctrines – denouncing the usual parade of horrors, like homosexual marriage, abortion and evolution and several multi millionaires like Bob Perry (no relation) of Swift Boat, smear John Kerry notoriety. Coincidentally, Perry has added lower corporate and wealth taxes and de-regulation to his gun-totin’ religious liturgy.

“It is a monstrous lie,” he orated at the September 7 Republican presidential, non-musical hoot nanny. “It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there.”

The dictionary defines Ponzi scheme as “An investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”

I’ve been receiving Social Security for ten years and I naively don’t consider it an investment. I paid a little all my working life and now I receive my monthly check like most of my fellow 54 million recipients.

Since the Social Security system had collected more than it had to pay out, Congress allowed it to lend money to pay for other government items – like wars. It got paid back in Treasury securities, which now total more than $2.5 trillion.

Ponzi schemes – like Bernie Madoff’s — come unglued after a short time and investors lose their money. The Ponzi schemer hides or gets arrested.

Yes, Social Security faces funding problem 25 plus years down the road, but the accountants think they can manage it before 2040.

Like most of the Republican aspirants, Perry implores his audience to not trust government and put faith in God’s creation: the free market and Christian prayer.

Did God listen and observe Perry’s giant prayer meeting to beg and pray for rain? If He did, ponder his response. On September 7, 57 wildfires had torched more than 1,000 homes across dryer-than-a-bone Texas. People died. Thousands went to shelters. Water rationing went into effect. One fire, raging out of control, even crept up on Austin, the state’s capitol.

As of September 7, 100,000 plus acres had burned and Texas stood as the Rain Starved instead of the Lone Star State. Firefighters had not contained the blaze, Perry admitted. He didn’t say he had endorsed cutting funding from $30 million to $7 million for volunteer fire departments that combat wildfires.

As fires roared, Perry left for California’s Reagan Library to duel with Republican contenders –a higher purpose, for higher office. After all, as he has several times indicated, God talks to him.

Perhaps a more plausible explanation for his references to such Divine communications came from a sign on a St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Texas.

“Gov. Perry. God Here. The Voice In Your Head Is Not Me. Take Your Meds. Choir Practice Wed. 7 P.M. Sign up.”

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP plays at Albuquerque’s Guild theater, Sept. 21, 6 & 8 pm. Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. 

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SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

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