Saturday, sitting in the relative safety of my Southern California home, I spent some time listening to the various speakers at The Response, the evangelical prayer rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. If you read my column regularly, you know the rally I mean; the non-sectarian prayer event where people of all religions were invited to come… and praise Jesus. It’s also the same one that’s sponsored by a hate group; that featured a large number of right-wing extremist speakers and, oh yes, was promoted by the governor of the state of Texas and possibly the next president of these United States (which is why I referred to the safety of my Southern California home as being only “relative”).
I’ve covered elsewhere why I and many others find Governor Perry’s association with The Response disturbing. Now I’d like you to hear the words of someone who finds Rick Perry and his stewardship of Texas inspirational: Pat Robertson.
Here’s what Robertson had to say about the governor on The 700 Club after the prayer rally (you can also see it in the video in the left column):
“Is it any wonder that man was elected for three terms to lead one of the largest states in our nation, and if I might add a very prosperous states, a state that has low unemployment, paying the bills. He has founded his administration on the Bible, and if I might add it works. Man, it took courage for him to do this. All this ‘blurred the lines of separation of church and state,’ no it doesn’t. We had never, never had a time in our country where we separated this country from God, but it looks like we’re trying to do it as hard as we can. And I appreciate Gov. Perry, bringing that emphasis to come back to the roots of our nation.”
Yes it is a wonder; especially since almost every point in that paragraph is disputable. Here are three recent articles about Perry’s record of achievement:
Texas government spending has nearly doubled since 2000 from $49 billion to $90 billion in 2010 (so much for reducing the size of government); it’s debt doubled during the same period (that’s fiscal conservatism?). As far as employment levels are concerned, the record is less than distinguished as well. The state of Texas is just about at the median (24th) in levels of unemployment; this despite benefitting from the steep rise in oil prices and significant expansion of federal spending on military bases in the state. Even worse, such job expansion seen has mostly been in the lowest wage jobs (in 2007, 221,000 Texas residents were making minimum wage or less. The number had risen to 550,000 by 2010).
As far as education standards in Texas goes, Barbara Bush (wife of one US president & mother of another) said this in a February opinion piece: We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma. We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores. We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.
Now that I see those education numbers, I take it back. It really is no wonder Texans elected Rick Perry governor 3 times. If this is an example of an administration founded on the Bible though, maybe Texans should start reading the Qur’an or the Bhagavad-Gita instead. Better yet, maybe they should read the US Constitution again and keep religion out of government.
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