THE BLOG
09/25/2012 07:02 pm ET | Updated Nov 25, 2012

The Separation of Satan and State

Maybe it's time for the comedy writers in New York and Los Angeles to move to Texas. They need to be closer to their source material because Texas Governor Rick Perry is making it easy for everyone to be a comic. Of course, it might not be Perry; it could just be Satan making Perry look like a clown, assuming, of course, you think Satan exists. (And if he does, is Satan important enough to be capitalized?)

Regardless of whether you believe Perry's assertion that the horned one stalks the universe, the governor's arguments about faith and government are even funnier than him insisting the devil is trying to make politics the province of only evil types. Hell, look at what Perry's administration has done to Texas in recent years with regards to making health care unobtainable for the poor, cutting school budgets so he could run for president, and forcing women to get sonograms before abortion procedures; he's a case study in the evil nature of politics. Perry appears to have given Satan a blowtorch and made taxpayers put on gasoline suits.

"I believe in Satan," the governor said at the Texas Tribune Festival. "And I hope most of the people in here do, too. The great trick that Satan pulls is making people believe that he didn't (sic) exist. It's a very interesting discussion we need to have as a country."

Yes, of course, one out of every four people living in Texas is without health care, we have the highest number of people over age 25 without high school diplomas, we are firing teachers, our roads are being turned into cash machines for corporations because the Perry administration won't fight to have the state fund them, and he wants to talk about Satan. Perry believes that there is no doubt Satan is trying to keep people of faith out of government. Satan appears to be about as competent as Perry, however, since our political stages continue to be tread by Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, and others who make their Christian faith a part of what informs their politics, though the interpretations of what is Christian vary wildly in political parties.

Satan can't be all that smart if he has Rick Perry doing his PR.

"If you don't want to think there's forces of darkness and spiritual forces at work that's your call," Perry told his interviewer. He noted:

My Christian faith teaches me that. The idea that you believe that Satan could be involved in every act and decision in the world, it's not out of the ordinary for those of us of the Christian faith, and if he's trying to keep people out of the public arena any way he can by hook or crook or lying or whatever you wanna put out there. I believe he's certainly capable of that. That's my belief and I don't apologize for it.

Perry has too many other things he needs to apologize for. But his misdirection call is, "Hey look, Bub, it's Beelzebub." Nobody's ever asked him to abandon his faith. What's annoying and destructive is when he tries to force his faith into the institutions of government because he thinks it's what best for Texas and the rest of the country. It's easy to figure out what his opinion on that idea would be if we had a Jewish or Muslim governor. Perry's not talking about people of faith, he's referring to people of his Christian religion, and he thinks the law is virtually persecuting Christians and keeping them from practicing their religion in the U.S.

"When there's a directive that comes down from a federal court that says you can't pray at a public event," he explained, "that's basically saying people of faith should not be involved in the public arena. There's case after case where folks have been pushed back on from standpoint of being engaged in prayer."

Those of us who believe in the separation of church and state will continue to hope that the court will keep prayer away from public institutions. If you are Jewish or Muslim or Hindu and pay taxes, why would you want to pay for buildings and public venues where Christians pray and you don't? Perry is no different than other Christian evangelicals and wants his belief system adopted by, not just all Americans, but the entire world. At a political event in San Antonio several years ago, he was asked by a Jewish reporter about the pastor's claim from the pulpit that anyone who didn't believe in Jesus Christ as their savior was "bound to burn in hell." Perry, less than subtle, let the Jewish journalist know he didn't have much of a future.

"I believe that no one goes to heaven unless they have Jesus Christ as their savior," he said.

That same Jewish reporter and I had traveled on many presidential and gubernatorial campaigns together and I always winced when we were in taxpayer-funded buildings, like schools, and he had to tolerate Christian invocations before he then tolerated the political rally.

Perry, like many others who are religiously intolerant of different belief systems, constantly refers to America's Founding Fathers as his argument for prayer in schools and public places, oblivious, of course, to the sentiments of Thomas Jefferson. In his letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut, who complained to the president that they were not being allowed to practice their brand of Christianity, Jefferson made clear that faith and government ought not ever be wed, and he cast the phrase that has guided our country on this matter for more than two centuries.

'I contemplate with sovereign reverence," Jefferson wrote, "that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

The line is hardly subject to misinterpretation but it suffers an abundance of distortions. Both the Constitution and one of its designers wanted to prevent the government from doing anything that promotes any religion, and praying, especially organized prayer, in a public institution, or at a high school football game, or before convening a legislative body in a taxpayer funded capitol, is offering sustenance to a belief system that is not held by everyone who submits to the tax laws. It is, therefore, wrong.

But it's possible I forgot to sign off my computer and Satan wrote this while I was runnin' around sinnin' somewhere.

Also at http://www.moorethink.com