A Salvation Agenda: Rick Perry vs. the Religious Left

I have recently criticized Jim Wallis & Friends for their blind, cultish support of “programs focused on reducing” (a blurry category, to be sure), which, as they tell us, are integral to helping the “least of these” and doing “what God requires.”

Taking a different tack is Rick Perry, governor of Texas and the latest to join a crowded field of GOP presidential candidates.

Over a week ago, Perry held a religious rally in Houston called “The Response,” in which he aimed to lead Americans to fast and pray for their country (“fascists!!”). Upon hearing about the event, I feared it could be a repeat of Glenn Beck’s fluffy relativism festival held last fall. But behold, Perry spoke directly and absolutely, cutting clear lines between church and state and not making any attempt to shy away from the name of Jesus.

“His agenda is not a political agenda,” Perry said. “His agenda is a salvation agenda.”

Watch the speech here:

In the weeks preceding, Perry garnered significant criticism from progressives everywhere, who strived to paint his beliefs as ridiculous (“prayer!? seriously?!”) and portray the event as a nasty conflation of politics and religion.

Oddly enough, Perry made the distinctions pretty clear:

He is a wise, wise God, and he’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party, or for that matter, he’s wise enough not to be affiliated with any man-made institutions. He’s calling all Americans of all walks of life to seek him, to return to him, to experience his love and his grace and his acceptance – experience a full-filled life, regardless of the circumstances.

I don’t mean this to be a full endorsement of Perry — he makes me nervous on federalism and corporatism — and I am not fully aware of his past when it comes to handling the intersection of politics and faith. But what he said at this particular rally strikes me as pretty darn close to the type of mindset Christians should have when it comes to God and country. As for any Matthew 6:5-6 concerns, that depends on your read of his attitude and approach. (Jesus prayed in public; he didn’t lobby government.)

Perry is not sending out prayer postcards to taxpayers and instructing them to check boxes next to Perry-approved pleas. He is not presenting a PowerPoint with bulleted lists of Jesus’ preferred anti-poverty programs. Indeed, Perry is not speaking about policies whatsoever.

Instead, he is simply leading and calling likeminded believers to pray for restoration in a time of crisis, whatever that might look like — a step he (rightly) believes will have an impact in turning the country around. His prayer is an “extreme” (i.e. actual) Christian prayer, not some “from-the-mosques-to-the-steeples” media-pleaser a la Beck.

For those who think such beliefs constitute insanity, Perry’s critics have now been privileged to see exactly the type of crazy person Perry really is. They should be grateful to have such profound personal insight when approaching the voting booth (should the chance arise). Perry is being Perry, and just as Obama has the right to chill with liberal “religious leaders” and chat about progressive policies (misguided though it may be), Perry has the right to pray in the name of Jesus with folks who think government is secondary (at best).

Rick Perry, praying, the ResponseIn addition, one quick look at the “Christian” rallying of Wallis and Friends demonstrates how drastically separatist the Perry approach really is. Are we really to set our critical sights on a prayer rally (something Jesus actually advocated) when others are bludgeoning us with big bureaucracy in the name of the “least of these”? (render unto what’s-his-name-again?)

Thanks for the prayer, Rick Perry, and thanks for the contrast, Progressive Theocrats.

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/104639972006576128 Remnant Culture

    If you think Rick Perry is crossing church-state lines, you should see @jimwallis. http://t.co/rP3VzzI #CASE @Sojourners

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/106119379879600128 Remnant Culture

    Rick Perry prayed for God to restore our nation. Why doesn't he just create a policy to handle that? http://t.co/rP3VzzI

  • http://twitter.com/prageru/status/106119470350745600 Prager University

    Rick Perry prayed for God to restore our nation. Why doesn't he just create a policy to handle that? http://t.co/rP3VzzI