Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is gearing up for “The Response,” an anti-gay prayer event on Aug. 6 billed as “a call to prayer for a nation in crisis.” According to the website, Perry’s event is based on the belief that the nation’s political, financial, and moral crisis is occurring “because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.” Perry, who has been roundly criticized for politicizing the event, takes that call very literally. The Houston Chronicle reports that in a private meeting to raise funds for the event, Perry concluded that property rights, government regulation, and the legal system are threatening America, and that “it’s time to just hand it over to God and say ‘God, you’re gonna have to fix this.’” The unofficial transcript reads:
I tell people, that “personal property” and the ownership of that personal property is crucial to our way of life.
Our founding fathers understood that it was a very important part of the pursuit of happiness. Being able to own things that are your own is one of the things that makes America unique. But I happen to think that it’s in jeopardy.
It’s in jeopardy because of taxes; it’s in jeopardy because of regulation; it’s in jeopardy because of a legal system that’s run amok. And I think it’s time for us to just hand it over to God and say, “God, You’re going to have to fix this.” [...]
I think it’s time for us to use our wisdom and our influence and really put it in God’s hands. That’s what I’m going to do, and I hope you’ll join me.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner didn’t verify the transcript of the remarks, but said “it contained nothing inconsistent with the governor’s belief that ‘every Christian is called into ministry’ whether serving as a church leader or in the workplace, and that ‘God provides opportunity throughout peoples’ lives to do his will.’” A spokesman for The Response confirmed the meeting was a fundraiser for the event.
Perry has long considered himself a “prophet” of God and is quick to combine religion with his right-wing, anti-government policies. A secessionist with a Confederate past, Perry considers programs like Medicaid, the Clean Air Act, and school assistance as unconstitutional “nonsense.” It is now standard practice for Perry to invoke his religion to justify that stance. In May, Perry claimed that the economic crisis was proof the nation needed to go “back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money.” He even skewed a parable of the Bible to argue that federal public programs are tantamount to “slavery” in which beneficiaries are “slaves to government.”
The idea that U.S. leaders should just “hand over” basic facets of government like regulation and a legal system to God is a stark abdication of all responsibility as a public servant that could have very real, very serious consequences for Americans. As Salon’s Justin Elliott notes, Perry responded to a historic drought in Texas by calling for three days of prayer for rain in April. “How did that work out? The AP reported June 29: ‘Drought-stricking Texas declared natural disaster area.”