And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. – Matthew 6:5
Dave Weigel at Slate has photos from Rick “Gov. Goodhair” Perry’s overhyped, underattended Pray-er Rally, including this one:
The Washington Post reports:
Texas Gov. and possible Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry led a crowd of more than 20,000 Christians Saturday, asking God to help a nation he calls “in crisis,” at a Christian-revival event he organized.
In the football stadium where the Houston Texans play, Christians from the state and around the country gathered for an all-day event called “The Response.” It resembled a service at a very large evangelical mega church but without a formal sermon. […] __
The day was officially described as nonpolitical and most of the prayer leaders did not speak of current political issues except for abortion, which they condemned. At the same time, a conservative group called the American Family Association paid for the stadium’s rental and many of the leaders onstage were familiar figures in the Christian conservative movement, such as Dobson & her husband James, the original founder of the group Focus on the Family and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R.)
Two major Texas evangelical figures who are not as closely aligned with conservatives, Joel Olsteen, who runs a huge church in the Houston, and Dallas’s T.D. Jakes, were not among the prayer leaders. While organizers said members of all faiths were welcome, the event’s tone was explicitly Christian…
As the Judean People’s Front (or was that the the People’s Front of Judea?) would say: Splitters!
Capacity of the stadium is said to be 71,500; I can’t find a report on how many of the 20,000 tickets were sold versus those given away, although Mother Jones‘ Tim Murphy said 8,000 on Friday:
… Although stadium-packing rallies are nothing new for the religious right, the pushback to Perry’s gathering—dubbed “The Response”—has been fierce. The problem isn’t with separation of church and state; Perry’s faith is no secret, and he’s made it clear that he will be attending the event as a private citizen and not in his official capacity as governor. The controversy, magnified by the governor’s escalating flirtation with a presidential bid, stems mostly from the company he’s keeping. Perry has left the organizing and the funding for the prayer rally up to a handful of key sponsors—groups like the American Family Association (which the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a “hate group”) and the International House of Prayer (the other IHOP). Those organizations created a monster: In interviews, the event’s planners have conceded that non-Christians will not be allowed on stage, and that the event—which Perry says is open to everyone—is intended in part to convert people to Christianity.
Although Perry and his defenders say he’s the victim of guilt by association (“Just because you endorse me doesn’t mean I endorse everything that you say or do,” he told the Dallas Morning-News) they’re missing a key point: By tasking these groups with running the event, Perry endorsed them.
Murphy also has a “primer” on some of Perry’s god-bothering friends’ goofier tenets, such as Oprah being “a forerunner to the Antichrist” and the idea that the Statue of Liberty represents “a demonic idol“.
As BJ’s token frontpager Person of Faith, I have to say: This, Governor Perry, is why so many decent, intelligent Americans have come to identify “religious” as a synonym for either “weak-minded” or “dishonest“. You’re a public embarrassment for the rest of us. I’d call you a shonda, but Eric Cantor may have retired that particular title.