When I learned of him, I thought Rick Perry was another goofy and deeply religious Christian – the kind we’ve seen before – that might do well in the upcoming US election. With his latest video statement, the governor of Texas has revealed he may be a lot more dangerous than that. According to Perry, we “know 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.”
This is both a non squitur and a lie. First, sexual orientation and religion are not as similar as thought by Perry or those who perform Gay exorcisms. Second, children can celebrate Christmas and pray in public school; these simply aren’t part of the school’s agenda. And that’s as it should be. The United States is a pluralistic nation, and it is that way in spite of religion. It’s not perfect, but it works as well as it does with great thanks to the authors of what is undoubtedly one of the most important documents in all of human history: the US Constitution. In it, a clear line is drawn between church and state. The founding fathers were aware of the consequences of giving religion too much say in the affairs of the state. When church and state are bound together things have a history of getting out of hand: those who believe they have god on their side tend to make a duty of torturing and murdering people for ‘crimes in the eyes of the faith.’ And for instruction on how religion influences education and learning, you might recall Galileo or, more recently, the Scopes Monkey Trial. And human rights? The Mormon church was an officially racist institution up to 1978, long after the great civil rights movements of the sixties. And to this day, opposition in the United States to gay marriage, and homosexuality generally, is religiously motivated. These are mere examples plucked from a selection that, were each written on cards and put in a pile, the result might be a hazard to passing aircraft.
Religion doesn’t strengthen America; it weakens it. Religion is corrosive to everything an enlightened society stands for and the temptation to be lulled into its traps that offer false promises with immoral premises must be resisted to the maximum of our abilities. That a deeply religious and prominent Texan politician – a presidential candidate – appeared on a major media outlet decrying the equality rightly granted to homosexuals, and specifically offering secularism as the ‘culprit,’ is to me a sign that the battle for reason against blind dogma might be heating up even more than it has already in recent years.