For the past week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been roundly criticized by religious and LGBT groups alike for inviting other governors to join him at an anti-gay prayer event hosted by stridently bigoted American Family Association. Not only has Perry courted the radical wing of the religious right for years, he has a history of bucking responsibility for tough problems by invoking God. For instance, while Texas was facing a historic drought and rash of wildfires, Gov. Perry extolled Texans to “pray for rain,” as he tried to cut funding for the agency battling the wildfires.
As Perry is poised to sign the most draconian state budget in recent history that slashes essential services for the poor and middle class while potentially laying off 100,000 teachers, Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch Kyle digs up this gem of an interview from May in which the governor sheds some light on his motivations. During an appearance on James Robison’s Life Today television program, Perry says he sees a silver lining to the devastating recession that has cost millions of families their jobs, homes, and livelihoods: it will return America to “Biblical principles” and free us from the slavery of big government:
PERRY: I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.
Perry twists a famous Biblical story into a bizarre anti-government tirade, comparing the U.S. government to slave masters in ancient Egypt. Skewing religion to reinforce his personal political ideology, Perry chastises people not to rely on government for help in hard times, and suggests those who are suffering have no one but themselves to blame for not making adequate preparations.
Of course, the most alarming take away is that Perry seems comfortable plunging his own state into economic ruin because he thinks it will encourage people to come back to God. By signing this budget, a nonpartisan state commission estimates that Perry will cost more than 300,000 Texans their jobs and purge millions from the Medicare roles — but Perry apparently believes that to be God’s plan and himself just an instrument of it.