Your Response to The Response?

Texas governor and increasingly likely Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry helped to create and promote a stadium-sized praise and worship service held this weekend in Texas called "The Response." 

Watch the promotional video, which stylistically bears a striking resemblance to a scary ad from the National Organization for Marriage, here.

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The New York Times highlighted some of the controversy surrounding Perry's participation in The Response:

On Saturday in Houston, thousands of people are expected to gather at Reliant Stadium for a Christian-themed prayer service that Mr. Perry created and promoted. Though Mr. Perry has been criticized for spearheading an event that burnishes his conservative Christian credentials as he considers running for president, the prayer rally is only the latest instance — albeit the highest profile one — of the governor of the nation’s second-largest state emphasizing his Christian beliefs and blurring the line between church and state.

Earlier in the week, CNN noted that the event had attracted only 8,000 registrants for a stadium that holds over 70,000, a fact event organizers downplayed:

Organizers of the religious gathering, dubbed "The Response," say only 8,000 people have registered on-line to attend this Saturday's event at Houston's Reliant Stadium, a venue with a seating capacity of 71,000.

Eric Bearse, a "Response" spokesman and former speech-writer for the potential GOP presidential candidate, says attendance numbers are a non-issue.

"Not concerned whatsoever. We think it will be a powerful event whether it is 8,000 or 50,000. The only people concerned about numbers are press," Bearse said.

Perry, who is still considering whether to run for president, is identified as the event's "initiator" on the "Response" web site.

If Perry were simply a private citizen promoting such an event, it would not gather much attention. But he is a governor with supersize influence in his party, with implications in the GOP primary that may dramatically alter the 2012 election. As such the event makes many uncomfortable.

Not surprisingly, those who hold the separation of civil government and religion sacrosanct are uncomfortable with Perry's involvement, highlighting his use of state resources in issuing a gubernatorial proclamation for the event. But joining this group in questioning the event are those who say that the governor is promoting a very specific, conservative evangelical sort of Christianity that excludes other Christians and non-Christians alike. Perry has suggested that he wants all people of faith to pray together, but take a look at his speech and the crowd's reaction:

Watching a speech from a governor that blends strong nationalism with triumphant Christianity is startling. Perry speaks more like a preacher than politician, using language that even our most zealously faithful leaders often refrain from employing. 

Scholars seem to agree that Perry has done nothing wrong legally, but is his promotion and appearance at The Response appropriate? Should a governor so actively promote so sectarian an event? Does his participation smack of political opportunity, with the Evangelical vote still up for grabs in the GOP primary? If so, does this cheapen and commoditize prayer and faith?

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6 years 2 months ago
A couple things 

Apparently the number of people were about 30,000.  Why keep emphasizing 8,000 when the actual number is known. 


I love the following phrase  ''those who hold the separation of civil government and religion sacrosanct are uncomfortable with Perry's involvement,''  So certain groups are uncomfortable with this event and it is sacred to them.


This is another in a long line of America hit pieces on potential or real Republican candidates by America authors.  My guess is that America magazine and the Jesuits are not tax exempt because of their partisan political activity.
Helena Loflin
6 years 2 months ago
Beth, your comments are most perceptive and insightful. 

Everyone, take a few moments to google New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and devote time to reading about it.  The Response is supported by and a product of NAR.  Think dominionism. 
Michael Appleton
6 years 2 months ago
In response to John Barbieri's question, the answer is no.

In response to J.R. Cosgrove, I suggest that separation of church and state applies to fundamentalists as well as to everyone else.  Indeed, it ought to be especially emphasized to those who view the state as an extension of their particular brand of Christianity. That specifically includes the group that sponsored this event. It makes no difference whether attendance was 7 or 70,000.

With regard to Gov. Perry, when I was a student at UT-Austin forty years ago, Aggie jokes were quite popular. Now I understand why.
Michael Appleton
6 years 2 months ago
In response to John Barbieri's question, the answer is no.

In response to J.R. Cosgrove, I suggest that separation of church and state applies to fundamentalists as well as to everyone else.  Indeed, it ought to be especially emphasized to those who view the state as an extension of their particular brand of Christianity. That specifically includes the group that sponsored this event. It makes no difference whether attendance was 7 or 70,000.

With regard to Gov. Perry, when I was a student at UT-Austin forty years ago, Aggie jokes were quite popular. Now I understand why.
Martin Gallagher
6 years 2 months ago
I listened to the whole speech.  I did not think that there anything in there that we, as Catholics, would not whole-heartedly support.  Am I missing something?
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
It's the power of religious rhetoric to evoke strong emotional response and loyalty in a populace that scares me.  When used in a political campaign to advance an agenda, anything can happen.
John Barbieri
6 years 2 months ago
If Perry were Catholic, would the same thing be OK?
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
I find this very scary.  I could only watch 5 minutes into the 12 minute speech.

The language is loaded.  "We know, we know, we know ..."; "I love this country deeply ..." "The only thing I love more is Jesus ..."

This is not prayer, this is theocracy. 

I am literally so disturbed that I need some distance in order to process what I just watched.  Maybe I'll have some more coherent comments later.

You've got me nailed, JR.  I am very uncomfortable with this event - so much so that I feel as if something that I hold sacred has been violated (cheapened and commoditized).
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
No, David, I only watched 5 minutes in.

But I think that this is more than just an each to their own story.

If he were a private citizen, doing his thing, it would be one thing.  But Rick Perry is the Governor of the state of Texas and allegedly has aspirations to be the President of the United States.

That means, in my mind, that he wants to lead us all - Jews, athesists, Muslims, Catholics.  I don't mind having his faith inform his politics, but from the 5 minutes I heard at this rally, there's not much difference between his patriotism, politics and religion.

I didn't particularly care for his religion.  Too much of a we are the chosen ones ring to it, among other things.  I heard nothing remotely related to the Gospel.  I found this arena for "prayer" to be a mockery.

That being said, I think it's probably good that this is out on the table, in the public eye, so that it can be seen for what it is and an honest debate about whether or not this kind of leadership is good for our country can take place.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
Mike (#8 & 9), what's an Aggie joke?
RUTH ANN PILNEY
6 years 2 months ago
I'm glad he's free to campaign in whatever way he chooses.  If he becomes the nominee, I will have the choice to vote for him or not.  So will everyone else who's eligible to vote.  So, no, I'm not scared.
Brendan McGrath
6 years 2 months ago
I watched about the first five minutes - I think we should note that Perry DOES say that God is wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party, or any human-made institution, that God does not have a "political agenda" but a "salvation agenda," etc.
Also - does anyone else find it interesting on a number of levels that he's standing there with an African American on the stage?  It DOES seem as if there are more and more African Americans in conservative and/or Republican circles - Michael Steele, Herman Cain, etc.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
I suppose I may have to listen to the whole thing, Martin (#12), but all I heard the first 5 minutes were bland, milk-toast, comfortable Christian platitudes.  Of course there was nothing to disagree with.  This is the deception of religious rhetoric.  It's purpose is to mollify the crowd into a common mythical mission.

There was also no real Christian challenge that I could hear.
6 years 2 months ago
''In response to J.R. Cosgrove, I suggest that separation of church and state applies to fundamentalists as well as to everyone else. ''


Separation of church and state is a recent phenomenon put forth by Protestants to inhibit Catholic education.  It has since become the mantle of a lot of people but was not part of the United States political scene till the late 1940's.  I  believe that all but one of the original states had an established religion and as more entered the union they too had established religions.


I have run into a lot of evangelicals and have not found them off putting and in this day and age to hold out that they are establishing a some sort of theocracy is a bogey man that is nonsense.  I would worry about the anti theocracy crowd who are very active and certainly not a bogey man because they are very real and are out there more than Governor Perry and his group are.


My point is that Mr. O'Laughlin's post is nothing more than one of a constant stream of hit pieces that arise on this site which I find extremely inappropriate.  I personally do not think Governor Perry is the right person to be President but I can guarantee that whoever the Republicans run, the authors on this site will be full of the obligatory negatives.  It says more about them then it does about the people they try to denigrate.
Martin Gallagher
6 years 2 months ago
Beth (#14), I would agree that he did not provide any earth-shattering Christian revelaations or promote any controversial doctrine.  I found it notable, though,  that any politician would call upon us to comit to repentance and fasting to help address our nation's problems. I also appreciated the fact that he at least tried to be nonpartisan; he emphasized  the pastor's lack of affiliation with any political party, he made mention that God doesn't have a political agenda, and he prayed (as sincerely as I could gather) for Pres Obama and his family. 

Is Gov Perry sincere, or was this all political posturing?  I don't know.  I'm not ready to be cynical yet and thus I'll take hmi at his word.  Time will tell.  I hope more politicians from both parties do the same.

Michael Appleton
6 years 2 months ago
J.R. Cosgrove: 

Massachusetts was the last state to have a state religion, and it abolished it in 1833. You and I obviously disagree on the history of the Establishment Clause, but suffice it to say that there is a difference between the concept of freedom of religion and the public endorsement of fundamentalist theology.  If you do not understand the views of those who appeared with Gov. Perry, you may wish to dig further.  It's about time we come to accept the fact that right-wing evangelicals are not friends of either religious freedom or the Constitution.

beth cioffoletti:

Aggie jokes are jokes told about Texas A&M University, home of the Aggies.  As you can imagine, they are especially popular at the University of Texas. 
Helen Smith
6 years 2 months ago
JR Cosgrove:

Re: "FDR who hated Catholics."
Well, maybe he had some issues with Fr. Coughlin - but hated?
That's a strong accusation and needs to be substantiated by equally strong and validated facts.






Helen Smith
6 years 2 months ago
JR cosgrove
I fail to see how your quote from Wikipedia about Hugo Black proves that FDR hated Catholics, unless you are trying to show that in appointing Black, FDR shared his anti-Catholicism, which does not seem to be too extreme a bigotry, since later on in the Wikipedia post, it states that Black had a Catholic secretary.
It seems more likely that the appointment of Black had more to do with rewarding a staunch New Dealer. FDR did appoint a Catholic, Frank Murphy, although it probably was a political move, since that seat had been traditionally held by a Catholic.
If FDR did hate Catholics, as you seem to think, he surely had cause but then again he owed the Church hierarchy a great deal in the 1936 election, which he could have lost due in large part to the radio address of Fr. Charles Coughlin. (Over the years of teaching Church History, I did some extra research and study about Fr. Coughlin, since I remember my father talking about him and his radio addresses.) At first Fr. Coughlin was a New Dealer and then an attacker of FDR as well as sympathizer of the Nazi anti-Semitism in his radio addresses.  His influence was enormous and could have cost FDR the election. Bishop Francis Spellman, who was then an auxiliary bishop in Boston, arranged with Joe Kennedy to finance a trip by the Vatican Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli, who visited the major Catholic dioceses in the U.S.   As a result, Fr. Coughlin was silenced by the Vatican, lost all his influence, and there was a landslide victory for Roosevelt in 1936.
6 years 2 months ago
You mis read what I said and I apologize for not making it clearer.  It was Black who hated Catholics.  It was Black who invented Separation of Church and State because he hated Catholics.  So this doctrine which is now sacrosanct is due to a judge who was a member of the KKK expressing his anti Catholicism.  And by the way at the time of this decision limiting aid to Catholic schools to bussing was also the same time that the government was giving money to military veterans which they could use for Catholic schools, Protestant schools or any other religious institution you can name and some used it to become ministers or rabbis.  I don't know if any used the GI Bill to become a priest but I bet the seminaries could have used the money.  The whole thing was hypocritical then and still is today.


Roosevelt may have been corrupt and as dumb as a fence post but I did not mean to say he hated Catholics though he appointed Black and knew his past.


Here is the sentence rewritten  ''That was the work of a judge who was a member of the KKK, hated Catholics and was appointed by FDR.''
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
I don't think so, Brendan.
They are props.
Beth Cioffoletti
6 years 2 months ago
I don't like to keep adding comments, but this thread has struck a nerve with me.

I will trust a politician who wants to pray in public when he/she advances the cause of "loving your enemy".  But the fact of the matter is that these politicians are drumming up the energies of tribalism and nationalism (and many times revenge) in the name of prayer.  Until this deception is clearly exposed, again and again, a lot of people are going to fall for it.  It's in our nature.
Helen Smith
6 years 2 months ago
I heard the prayer but what was the fast? Was it a Catholic-Lenten fast with one full meal with 2 smaller ones, a Muslim-Ramadan  sunrise to sunset fast including fasting from water, a Jewish Yom Kippur sunset to sunset including water?
Just wondering. Also, usually, prayer and fasting are associated with almsgiving.
6 years 2 months ago
''You and I obviously disagree on the history of the Establishment Clause, but suffice it to say that there is a difference between the concept of freedom of religion and the public endorsement of fundamentalist theology.''


By saying that there definitely were state religions in the US, you are agreeing with me.  The fact that the last one was in 1833 does not undermine what the meaning of the First Amendment was about.  If it was ok then, why wouldn't it be ok now?  I am not proposing that any state should establish a state religion but the constitution does not prohibit it.  So at the time immediately following the establishing the constitution it was not thought to be a big deal.  I suppose we understand it better 220 years later than at the time it was written.  My guess is that current interpretation is that it would not be constitutional but how could that be valid when for over 40 years it was not challenged? 

Separation of Church and State became a big deal after a supreme court decision limiting local help of Catholic schools to bussing and nothing else.  That was in the late 1940's.  That was the work of an ex klan judge appointed by FDR who hated Catholics.


Then we have Christmas.  It is an official holiday of the United States.  How does that contrast with the so called separation of Church and State?


I am not supporting governor Perry but mainly making the point that America Magazine has gone out of its way to denigrate any Republican candidate or potential candidate for president.  If you want to make the point that people should look at who one associates with religiously then have you made the same point about our current president and who he chose to associate with for 20 years before he was forced to disown him?


I am mainly objecting to the hyprocisy of it all which doesn't seem to be in short supply around here.
Claude Muncey
6 years 2 months ago
J. R. Cosgrove:

''By saying that there definitely were state religions in the US, you are agreeing with me.  The fact that the last one was in 1833 does not undermine what the meaning of the First Amendment was about.  If it was ok then, why wouldn't it be ok now?  I am not proposing that any state should establish a state religion but the constitution does not prohibit it.  So at the time immediately following the establishing the constitution it was not thought to be a big deal.  I suppose we understand it better 220 years later than at the time it was written.  My guess is that current interpretation is that it would not be constitutional but how could that be valid when for over 40 years it was not challenged?''

The reasons are fairly straightforward.  In 1833, the only part of the Constitution relevant was the First Amendment, that specificly bound Congress.  However, the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868, includes language originally intended to apply the Bill of Rights to states.  It took about a century for the Supreme Court to rule that most of the Bill of Rights did apply to states under various portions of the Amendment.  The Establishment Clause was finally applied to the states in Everson in 1947.

So before 1868, the Constitution clearly did not restrict the states in this regard.  After 1947 it clearly did.
6 years 2 months ago
''That's a strong accusation and needs to be substantiated by equally strong and validated facts. ''

Look up Hugo Black.   From Wikipedia

''[Black's] affinity for church-state separation and the metaphor was rooted in virulent anti-Catholicism. Philip Hamburger has argued that Justice Black, a former Alabama Ku Klux Klansman, was the product of a remarkable ''confluence of Protestant [specifically Baptist], nativist, and progressive anti-Catholic forces.... Black's association with the Klan has been much discussed in connection with his liberal views on race, but, in fact, his membership suggests more about [his] ideals of Americanism,'' especially his support for separation of church and state. ''Black had long before sworn, under the light of flaming crosses, to preserve ‘the sacred constitutional rights' of ‘free public schools' and ‘separation of church and state.''' Although he later distanced himself from the Klan, ''Black's distaste for Catholicism did not diminish.'' Hamburger, Separation of Church and State, pp. 423, 434, 462, 463.'' 

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