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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on Rick Perry’s Faith

John on August 16, 2011 at 9:21 am

Over at Red State, Leon Wolf has a helpful fisking of this piece at the Atlantic. I’m not going to summarize it here, but I did want to make a couple points of my own. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend opens with an attack on Perry’s promotion of a prayer meeting:

A week before announcing his candidacy, he led a prayer meeting for evangelical Christians in Houston. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit trying to stop him from participating in this rally, arguing that he was violating the First Amendment by using his position, stationery, and website to promote the event. The court dismissed the complaint, saying that the plaintiff didn’t show sufficient harm to merit the injunction.

I disagree with the court’s ruling. I think the governor misused his office to promote a particular religion. That might have been clearer to the judge if Perry had organized a rally in support of Islam rather than Christianity. There’s no difference as far as the First Amendment is concerned.

About ten paragraphs later Townsend is not into her main argument, i.e. that Rick Perry doesn’t act like a Christian because he doesn’t support social welfare spending as Jesus would:

Christ teaches us to feed the hungry and care for the sick, not to abandon them. Perhaps Gov. Perry hasn’t read that part of the Bible where Christ admonishes us to care for “the least among us.” …

Does Rick Perry acknowledge those 2,500 passages? That’s the second question I’d like the press to ask him. Maybe he believes, like some socially conservative evangelicals, that these passages refer only to personal charity, not government programs. But I don’t see any place in the Bible that says we shouldn’t use all the tools we have at hand to help the poor, the sick, and the hungry.

Do you have whiplash? First Townsend damns Perry for using his office stationary to promote a prayer event, then she criticizes him for not using the entire power of his office as a “tool” to fulfill Matthew 25.

And note that she is not talking about how others view Perry. Townsend has personalized both parts of this attack. She thinks the governor misused his office in the first cace and she thinks he is misusing his office in the second case. In the first case he’s too sectarian, in the second not sectarian enough (those 2,500 verses she’s talking about are in the Bible, not in the Koran).

Maybe, like me, you get the impression that Townsend will say anything to attack Rick Perry, even if her attack is internally inconsistent.

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