Political Animal


December 07, 2011 2:30 PM Perry hates gays, loves Christmas

By Steve Benen

A few days ago, Rick Perry launched a television ad in Iowa based almost entirely on religion. “Some liberals say that faith is a sign of weakness,” he told viewers. “Well, they’re wrong. I think we all need God’s help. America’s greatest leaders have been people of strong faith, strong values.”

The spot didn’t generate much in the way of attention, so the Texas governor decided to escalate matters in his new ad. Take a look:

For those who can’t watch videos from your work computers, Perry, talking to the camera, says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion, and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.”

I suppose it’s possible a message like this might have something to do with Mitt Romney — by emphasizing he’s “not ashamed,” Perry may be drawing a subtle contrast with Mitt Romney, who tends not to make similar boasts about his Mormonism — but it’s more likely the governor just wants Iowans to think of him as the Culture Warrior in Chief.

And maybe this strategy will pay dividends. Iowa Republicans have developed a reputation for extremism on social issues, so Perry may very well connect with a message like this one.

But that doesn’t make Perry’s tirade any less ridiculous. It also doesn’t change the fact that this bizarre persecution complex is wildly misplaced — there is no “war on religion”; DADT’s end has made America safer and the new policy enjoys broad bipartisan support; millions of children openly celebrate Christmas; voluntary prayer in public schools is already legal; and liberals have no interest in Perry’s religious heritage.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Decatur Dem on December 07, 2011 2:44 PM:

    As the old quip goes, as long as there are math exams, there will be prayer in schools. Just doesn't happen to be aloud.

  • Josef K on December 07, 2011 2:45 PM:

    But that doesn’t make Perry’s tirade any less ridiculous.

    Has Perry said anything in living memory that isn't ridiculous, bigoted, or generally stupid?

  • john on December 07, 2011 2:54 PM:

    Well, that may all be true, but it doesn't change the fact that Perry's statement fits precisely with the view hard-right evangelicals have of the world around them.

    The idea that they are oppressed martyrs who must stand fast in their faith against an overwhelming onslaught from the secular world and its Satanic forces - an onslaught so devastating that only the direct intervention of God himself will allow them to survive - is so deeply wired into the fundamentalist consciousness that they could literally be the rulers of a Handmaid's Tale style theocracy, and would still be screaming that they are the only unloved victims in this world and begging God to deliver them from the evil engulfing them.

  • T2 on December 07, 2011 2:55 PM:

    Yea! now were getting to see the real Rick Perry that Texans love.

  • biggerbox on December 07, 2011 3:03 PM:

    Rick Perry is running for President of the Paranoid Religious Bigots. There are a lot of 'em.

    I gotta say, thought, I don't think that barn coat has ever seen a day of honest work.

  • Eeyore on December 07, 2011 3:04 PM:

    Andrew Sullivan had a post today which featured this video, and mentioned Perry's attack on Obama: "Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money."

    Sullivan's headline was a classic: "Memo to Rick Perry: Not Getting Murdered Isn't a 'Special Right'".

  • Quaker in a Basement on December 07, 2011 3:07 PM:

    "Obama's war on religion"??!?


  • j on December 07, 2011 3:15 PM:

    There is something sick about these republicans who keep going on about religion, it is like they are over compensating because they are usually pretty evil, like all those pastors who have sexual indiscretions. Am I the
    only one who notices that Jerry Sandusky/Paterno et al are registered republicans, also apparently good friends with Santorum.

  • zeitgeist on December 07, 2011 3:15 PM:

    i will give Perry's media team credit -- i am amazed at the sheer quantity of hateful nonsense they were able to shove into one spot.

    the first time i saw it this morning, i was appalled at the open gay bashing and the attack on a group of people serving in uniform being released on Pearl Harbor Day.

    then i saw it again at lunch at what struck me was the "Obama's war on religion" and "liberal attacks on our religious heritage."

    that is just a whole lot of ugly in 30 seconds. he is one desparate, loathsome little man.

  • rrk1 on December 07, 2011 3:17 PM:

    The fundies tell themselves they are victims of a non-existent anti-religious crusade so often they take it as gospel truth because it's all they ever hear. They're particularly good at circular reasoning.

    Bigotry justified by religion is still bigotry, and we'll hear lots more of it from the clown circus. Perry is likely to do better than his polling indicates. How Gingrich, with his shameless mendacity, hypocrisy and personal history, can get any traction with the fundies is a mystery to me. But we'll soon find out.

  • Stephen Stralka on December 07, 2011 3:26 PM:

    I've got just 20 words for Rick Perry:

    "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

    I just wonder if he'd be able to identify the source of that quotation.

  • ComradeAnon on December 07, 2011 3:27 PM:

    I love the smell of desperation in the air.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 07, 2011 3:36 PM:

    As someone who grew up in one of these Southern God-fearing, Bible Belt towns that Perry would try to appeal to, I don't ever recall any "War on Religion"--fictitious or real--from ever stopping Christians from being their Christian selves. Hell, it was standard practice for religious groups to come to the elementary schools and hand out New Testament mini-bibles like they were door prizes when I was growing up (long ago in the '90s; I had the chutzpah to decline one in the 5th grade).

    Even if there were a so-called "War on Religion", who the hell would actually carry it out in these insulated communities? I knew approximately two Catholic families, two Mormon families, and a half of a kinda-sorta Jewish family when I was growing up. Most of these places have a good ol' boy power structure who could give less that an rat's ass about what any librul do-funny thinks. Talk about preachin' to the choir...

  • DAY on December 07, 2011 3:48 PM:

    What is this "Religion" I have been hearing so much about? A new political party?

  • CodedMessage on December 07, 2011 3:52 PM:

    Ice cream. That is cheap. Fact.

  • exlibra on December 07, 2011 3:59 PM:

    I wonder how much he "loves Christmas", actually. A story of a teenager, who got herself in trouble, managed to con a sugar-daddy (old enough to be her grandfather) into marrying her, and then dropped an anchor baby for prosperous Bethlehem to take care of? There isn't a single thing in there for a man like Perry *to* like. And never mind that the kid grew up to be a commie revolutionary, a charlatan (the wine and fishes business), and a troublemaker...

  • Zorro on December 07, 2011 4:09 PM:

    Clearly, the War on Christmas has been successful beyond belief. After all, if it weren't for the omnipresent Christmas music, Christmas decorations, Christmas ads, and Christmas decorations, you'd never know it was Christmas.


  • Kevin (not the famous one) on December 07, 2011 4:18 PM:

    This is a dog whistle that he wants teh gays back in the closet.

  • Mitch on December 07, 2011 4:38 PM:

    Yeah, this ad should disqualify Perry on the basis of "no religious test" but our nation has - at best - paid only lip service to that.

    Religious zealots are always convinced that the world is out to destroy them. Doesn't matter if you are discussing Southern Baptists in my home town in KY, Taliban fundies in Afghanistan or extremely Orthodox Jews in Israel.

    And anything that doesn't agree 100% with their beliefs only confirms their fears.

    They are taught this from birth, I know that I was.

    @Sgt. Gym Bunny; You hit it on the head. During my high school days (late 1990's) I was routinely pulled aside by teachers (particularly the one who ran the "First Priority" Christian Club) and chewed out for being open about my lack of belief, taste in music and vocal support of Natural Selection in Biology class.

    When I complained about this behavior I was informed that teens don't have a right Free Expression, and I should just keep my ideas to myself, dress like everyone else (I like wearing black) and not antagonize the "good, Christians". Of course, my family was on the side of the zealots, being proud Fundies themselves.

    Needless to say I got the hell out of KY at the earliest possible time, and never looked back. Theocracy is the opposite of Democracy, and the push for it seems to be getting worse, not better.

    God help us all (metaphorically speaking).

  • Ted Frier on December 07, 2011 4:40 PM:

    It seems almost pointless after listening to Perry's deliberate attempt to stir up trouble between fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists to note that conservatives are the ones attacking Obama for being "divisive." That is because right wingers like Perry have an entirely different idea of what being divisive means. In Perry's world there is one -- and only one -- acceptable model for society, and it's the one preached in the church that Perry attends. Attacking other people for who they are, or who they love, or what god they pray to is not what Perry means by "divisive." What's "divisive" to Perry are those who dissent or depart or refuse to comply with the model of society they preach about in the church Perry attends.

  • Jose Hipants on December 07, 2011 4:47 PM:

    Perry's not ashamed to admit he's a Christian, but he's making other Christians ashamed to admit he's one of them.

  • neutrino23 on December 07, 2011 4:56 PM:

    As said above, sounds like desperation. If this kind of radicalism is his main theme then he has no chance with the general public. People need jobs, they need health care, they need help with their mortgages, the country faces a number of daunting challenges and all Perry has to offer is stuff that appeals to religious zealots?

  • TreeTop on December 07, 2011 6:19 PM:

    To be a "dog whistle," it has to be silent for those who are not in the intended audience. Bush babbling about the Dred Scott decision was a dog whistle since only Evangelicals knew he was really talking about abortion, not slavery.

    This Perry ad is not a dog whistle. It's a fog horn.

  • Crissa on December 07, 2011 6:41 PM:

    What part of 'force me to sing christmas carols' or 'force me to participate in pray' is required for them to pray or wear holiday ribbons or exchange gifts?

    I don't get it. They're persecuted because I don't want to participate or pay for their observation of faith?

    Seems... Backwards.

  • Filth on December 07, 2011 8:30 PM:

    Fun fact -- Texas State law requires daily prayer in every public school. I believe Rick Perry was governor when the law was put into effect. So when he says that kids can't pray in school, he's lying.

  • zeitgeist on December 07, 2011 8:35 PM:

    This Perry ad is not a dog whistle. It's a fog horn.

    More like a petulent child who is used to getting his way screaming for attention.

  • Sammy on December 07, 2011 11:18 PM:

    Rick Perry and Rick rimes with body excretion sure are obsessed over people who are LBGT.

    Me thinks they protest too much. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  • Sammy on December 07, 2011 11:23 PM:

    Correction: Rick Perry and Rick "rhymes" with body excretion sure are obsessed over people who are LBGT.

    Me thinks they protest too much. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  • cthulhu on December 08, 2011 12:52 AM:

    Actually if you go watch it on YouTube directly, you can give it a like/dislike. Regardless of Perry's decision to do this, one must marvel at the positive sign that dislikes are currently outnumbering likes by about 40:1.

  • MuddyLee on December 08, 2011 12:05 PM:

    Liberal Christians ask questions about how "faith made America strong"....when the Native Americans were killed and driven into reservations, when African Americans were working for free as slaves, when only whites had rights, when Japanese Americans were put in camps, when the country went crazy over Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, when Republicans decided that the rich didn't need to pay a fair share of taxes and banks and Wall Street didn't need to be regulated....just saying.....