Perry’s Complaint

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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118 Responses

  1. James K says:

    it boggles my mind how Christians manage to feel persecuted in a country so dominated by Christianity as yours.Report

    • BSK in reply to James K says:

      It’s simple: privilege.

      Is there a war on Christians?  No.  Are they persecuted?  No.  Is Christianity still the dominant religion?  Yes.

      But are there ways in which Christianity and (probably moreso)  the culture that surrounds American Christianity is less dominant than it once was?  Absolutely.  For a long time, the norm was that teachers lead students in prayer and if you were not Christian or otherwise offended by the prayer, you sat there and just shut up about it.  For a long time, it was socially acceptable to gay bash, with at least some of the defense being based on Christian teachings.  Public squares used to have Christmas trees and nothing else.  On and on.  Much of that has changed.  Not because of a calculated “war” on Christianity.  But because times changed.  And people realized that basing public and social policy on one faith was not only against the law, but probably not the best idea ever.  So, yea, things probably HAVE gotten worse for Christianity when looking at it superficially.  But it was starting from a position of such unearned entitlement that it is hard to say this rollback was wrong or unfair.  Yet the beneficiaries of that preferred standing did not view themselves as preferred so, when it is stripped away, they feel that something they have earned has been taken away.

      It is the same way that whites* rail against efforts at promoting racial equity as “reverse racism” or men* rail against efforts at promoting gender equity as “feminism gone wild”.  Some people were born on 3rd base and think they hit a triple.  And when they are told to go back to the starting line with everyone else, they think they are being cheated.

      * Certainly not ALL, and probably not even MOST, whites or men feel this way.  But folks who exploit this feeling attempt to paint the entirety of these groups as the victim of “political correctness” or whatever the boogeyman-du-jour is.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

        This sounds like a Heritage Report about why poor people should be happy.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          You mean, it sounds like propaganda? If so, what’s BSK’s ulterior motive in writing it? Is it a propaganda to get you to believe something BSK benefits from, or is it an honest description of why certain groups claim they’re persecuted?

          Or are you saying Heritage is just a clearinghose for the expression of honest, unbiased opinion?Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

            I’m saying that the definition of “whatever” is using a historical ruler rather than one based on the internal states of the people in question.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              Well, the internal states of the people in question are, presumably, the state of feeling persecuted. The historical stuff provides an account of why they in fact do feel that way. Not that they ought to feel that way. Which is what the Heritage report was doing: telling people how they ought to feel (in your words: “should be happy”).


              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                So we know that we can tell this group of people “stop your whining, you don’t even know how good you’ve got it compared to people in the past” and we would be heartless to tell that group of people anything but a variant of “we have failed in meeting our obligations to protect you from the excesses of others”?Report

              • BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Wait… I sound like I’m from Heritage?  By calling our Christian privilege?  You’ve lost me…Report

              • Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

                I am not a Christian and Christian Privilege tends to irritate me and it seems to me that we’d all be better off if we, as a society, could say “you have a bare minimum and beyond that is none of my business”.

                It seems to me that if the Christians in question have running water, enough food to eat, a roof over their head, and electricity that can give them heat in the winter and fans in the summer… then we, as a society, have fulfilled all of our obligations to them and if they want a frigging creche on the lawn of the town hall then that is not our frigging problem and if they feel bad because they can’t have one then that is certainly not our frigging problem.

                How much of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are we, as a society, responsible for in our fellow citizens? If we’ve established “more than merely the safety and physiological”, then I don’t see how the Christians who are complaining about the perceived loss of their community do not have a point that you are obliged to address.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Because the Christians aren’t analogous to the poor, here.  They’d be analogous to the rich complaining about inflation.  Or something.

                I suspect that’s the rejoinder, at any rate.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                I was going to say that Perry’s ad sounds like a Heritage report arguing that rich people are the real poor people.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                That’s the problem when we, as a society, say that the internal feelings of other people are our responsibility, innit?

                We stop being able to delineate what our responsibilities are and we’re stuck dealing with people who may, in fact, be black holes of emotional needs.Report

              • BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Just to be clear, since it seems my intentions are unclear… I am not defending Perry or Christian privilege.  Nor do I feel we have an obligation to them.  I’m only offering an explanation for why they feel that way.  That does not mean they are right to feel that way or are due a response for their feelings.  But it helps explain the underlying psychology that so many feel is unexplainable.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

                In that, you’ve done a good job.

                I just don’t know how to deal with thwarted entitlement issues.Report

              • BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Oh, the what-to-do question is a whole other bag.  The biggest problem is that folks arrive at the point of “thwarted privilege” for a whole host of reasons.  So a whole host of responses is needed.  Only a few of which I can even speak to.  I was really just trying to give an answer to why.


      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BSK says:

        I’m pretty good w/BSK’s summary here.  Times have changed.  A “living” Constitutionalism demands we make the Constitution adapt to those changes.

        Gordon Wood may be the dean of American historians.  He says that current jurisprudence in this area, a more strict separationism, is a “legal fiction,” not historically grounded.  And, wanting to stay out of the line of fire of the culture wars [and the academic establishment], allows that this legal fiction might be [or is], um, necessary and proper.

        “Unearned” entitlement?  Not if we’re speaking historically.  Well-earned: the Christian ethos was very much a part of our Founding, and I’m not really speaking of the Puritans or the Bible here.

        The point would be that theologico-political regime that Perry and his target audience pine for is also permissible under the Constitution, and was for a century-plus.  We never voted or amended the Constitution to change the Founding ethos, indeed to make it illegal. They have a valid argument, but so do the Freedom from Religion types, if we’re under a “living” Constitution legal regime.

        As for inserting race into this, BSK, I could have lived without it, since it’s only analogous at best and not probative.  As for gay issues, well, they’re almost always the subtext in these things, eh?


    • UnixMan in reply to James K says:

      It’s really very simple. You can translate it into code.

      The 1st Amendment to the Constitution, in essence, states that /etc/government/religion -> /dev/null.

      Somewhere along the way, the Republicans got royally screwed up. Their first mistake was overwriting /etc/religion/christianity/evangelical/morality with /etc/religion/sins/greed.

      Their second mistake was in setting /etc/republican/religion equal to /etc/religion/christianity/evangelical.

      Their third mistake has been the continued attempts to, despite claiming they respect the Constitution, complain about a “war on Christmas” and try to insist that despite the Constitutional writing and over 200 years of scholarship saying otherwise, that they somehow get to set /etc/government/religion = /etc/religion/christianity/evangelical.

      Part of the underlying reality is that you can’t actually follow christian morality and be remotely “conservative Republican” by what they currently hold dear, but that’s probably another discussion entirely. “Conservative Republican Christians” have ceased to worship God, they’re too busy worshiping the unholy trinity of the Almighty Buck, Government Power To Enforce Arbitrary “Morality” On Others, and the Fictional Ghost Of A Reagan That Never Existed.Report

  2. Matty says:

    * And of those that are not, are almost all Jewish, and at least these days, it’s entirely cool with the Christian folk if you’re a Jew.

    Only almost all, do you still have that one Muslim guy then?Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    If you don’t want to appeal to the Constitution, appeal to contemporary morality.Report

  4. Tom Van Dyke says:

    Bad show by Perry, again.  And out of date: directed school prayer is a ship that sailed long ago, and scotching DADT was a Congressional act, with GOP support.

    He should have gone after the administration’s refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which had passed Congress overwhelmingly in the 1990s.

    Perry had planted his floag on the evangelical vote with a much-criticized prayer meeting last summer, refusing to turn his back on fringier types like John Hagee, as McCain did.  But clearly, this has not been enough.

    I will register a tu quoque:  This is at least comparable to Candidate Obama’s sneer at flyover country “clinging” to guns and religion, in my view.  Perry had somewhat of a point in there somewheres, but blew it with overreaching and patent dishonesty.  Obama’s indifference may be diluting America’s Christian culture and its traditional morality, but it falls far short of a “war on religion.”  Fail, and I’ll be surprised if it scores much even with his target audience.Report

  5. Steve S. says:

    The notion that Christians are persecuted in this country is so patently absurd that I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around an explanation for why it exists.  The best I can come up with is that this is akin to conspiracy theorizing.  For instance, there are myriad reasons one might loathe the Bush Administration, but for some folks that isn’t good enough, they have to ascribe them a unique level of evil manifested in impossibly byzantine plots.  I see the type of thinking that Perry is tapping into as being similar.  Or maybe I’m completely full of it.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Steve S. says:

      The notion that Christians are persecuted in this country is so patently absurd that I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around an explanation for why it exists.

      I agree. I don’t get it, and the only explanation I can come up with is that it’s one of the few artifacts of conservatism that they can legitimately, unquestionably claim as their own. Not that some liberals aren’t Christians, of course. But it represents one significant divide between the two camps, where one embraces cultural change and modernisation and the other laments it as the passing of a better, simpler world. So conservatives cling to their religion – and guns too! – because of what they represent in a changing world, a world where economic and cultural opportunities in flyover country are increasingly marginalized, and the old ways are slowly eroding with no hope of returning, and it’s a loss that makes them angry and sad.

      Hey, wait a minute! Did I just defend Obama here?!?


      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater says:

        But Perry didn’t say Christians are persecuted in this country.  Keep it real, gents.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Actually Tom, I was just trying to give a meaning of Obama’s words which make them something different than a ‘superficial suckup’ to his supporters. I never understood them that way, and I certainly didn’t when he said them. My own take is that he was very uneloquently trying to describe some conservative thinking, not ridicule it. The real problem was that he was speaking for them, or about them, without being one of them.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater says:

            “Cling” is a sneer, Mr. Stillwater.  Me, I’ll take guns and religion over whatever #OWS is selling.  That BHO sneers at the one and winks approvingly at the other, well, there you have it.

            Perry should have gone this route, come to think of it, not that bumbling piece of demagoguery. BHO gets away with his dog whistles because he’s so crafty at blowing them.  Props where they’re due.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Well, if it was a dog-whistle, it wasn’t one that I heard. But maybe he said it just to piss of conservatives. There’s always that, I guess.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Stillwater says:

                Well, BHO got away with it, Mr. Stillwater.  That’s all that counts, eh?Report

              • Yeah, it sounded like a dogwhistle to me.   Look at how we’re all going after Perry because of the religion issue–throw the hint of religion in government out to liberals and you’ll see a lot of ears perk up.  Add guns to it and their sphincters tighten up so much they can’t have their pervert sex anymore!!  (Just kiddin’!)Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                The three people on this thread who’ve said it’s a dog whistle are a conservative and two libertarians. Kimmi and me are both liberals, and we didn’t think there was any coded message underlying those words, especially in the context he uttered them.

                Maybe, as a liberal, I’m not the best one to judge what constitutes a liberal dog-whistle. But I always thought they were coded messages for the types of policy initiatives ‘people like us’ support and want to pass. I didn’t see any of that going in with Obama, even tho I think the language he used was inelegant. Also, part of Obama’s whole schtick was to get conservatives on board with his idea of post-partisan politics. I don’t see why he would campaign on that and then dog-whistle in a way that a) liberals can’t hear, and b) only pisses off conservatives.

                But I’ve been dazed and confused before, so…Report

              • Eh, plenty of my liberal friends heard the dog whistle.  Although I should note that it wasn’t a particularly good one since they all thought it was rather too blatant.

                But it very well could be that the idea of a dogwhistle is that it causes a response without the responders being consciously aware of the concept they’re responding to.


              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                Yeah. That’s what I was getting at. And if so, then no one can say in the moment that they’re effected by dog whistles.They work insofar as they’re subliminal.

                But I don’t know: it seems like ‘state’s rights’, and ‘sanctity of marriage’ and ‘family values’ are dogwhistles, and conservatives know exactly what those phrases mean.


              • Hmm, good points.  Maybe I need to ponder more what the proper meaning of dogwhistle is.  I haven’t really thought about it that much.  How well defined a concept is it, I wonder?  Or is it just one of those vague things that we all think we know when we see it until we start to disagree on when we’re seeing it?Report

              • kenB in reply to James Hanley says:

                Well, an actual dogwhistle is a signal that’s intended to be heard by dogs, is heard by dogs, but is not heard by humans.  So the metaphor really ought to refer to politicians using a certain vocabulary that sends a particular message to the target group while sounding innocuous to those outside the group.

                Per this definition, what Obama said wouldn’t be a dogwhistle because it certainly did not sound innocuous to the out group.Report

              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Ken’ right, dogwhistles, real and metaphorical, are meant to be heard clearly by their intended targets, but not by those who aren’t like them.Report

              • Accurate, KenB, although “guns” and esp “religion” are dog whistles themselves. Religion.  Bad.  Enemy of human progress. Galileo. Abortion rights. Gay stuff.  Religious Right. Republicans. You can hum the tune.

                A helpful list of Obama class warfare dog whistles.  And all in a single speech.  Fishing amazing:

                “those at the very top”

                “the privileged few”

                “insurance companies”

                “typical CEO”

                “the top one percent”

                “mortgage lenders that tricked families into buying homes”

                “somebody pulling in $50 million”

                “Wall Street”

                “failed CEOs”

                “payday lenders”

                “most Republicans in Washington”

                “some billionaires”

                “the financial sector”

                “the wealthiest Americans in the country”

                “your employer”

                “Republicans in Congress”

                “a certain crowd in Washington”

                “Republicans in the Senate”

                “banks and institutions making bets with other people’s money”

                “the same folks who are running Congress now”

                “Warren Buffet”

                “debt collectors”

                “a quarter of all millionaires”

                “the top one hundredth percent”

                “major banks”

                “ a few who can afford high-priced lobbyists”

                “the wealthiest Americans in the country”

                “those who would go back to policies that stacked the deck against the middle class”

                “the breathtaking greed of a few”

                “big banks”


              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Those aren’t dog whistles, Tom. They’re not meant to disguise the message. A dog whistle has to disguise the message, or it’s not a dog whistle.Report

              • kenB in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think true dogwhistles are vanishingly rare, but choosing words that have more resonance for one group than another is a common-enough rhetorical tactic.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                TVD, That list is hilarious.

                (I always suspected that language had a liberal bias.)Report

              • OK, then, Obama’s guns and prayer seemed to be heard more by the right than the left, so it’s a reverse dog-whistle?  All the dogs are left sleeping on the porch while the neighbors come running?Report

              • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

                Hillary’s chains of faith was a good dogwhistle.

                Calling Obama a socialist is a dogwhistle (intimating communist to the boomers)Report

            • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              well, sir, have you lost any teeth this year?

              If not, back the fuck away from linking yourself up with those who have. Because there’s this funny thing called empathy… It’s something you learn when the times are tough, and the corporations keep on killing your towns.

              If you cling so to your guns and religion, why not pray for these folks?

              Lord knows they could use it.


              BHO dogwhistling? Try Ford. There’s a man who could dogwhistle with the best of ’em.Report

        • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom, he said there’s a war on religion. Given his target audience, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to conclude that the’s saying Christians are persecuted. Or perhaps more accurately, Christians are at war. I don’t know which is worse.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

            Whatever, Chris.  Quote the man accurately or be guilty of what you accuse him of.  I quoted BHO accurately and didn’t play the word game.

            And of course there’s a war on religion in the public square.  The Freedom from Religion Foundation is quite unapologetic about it.  So let’s dispense with the disingenuousness game too, OK?


            • “War on religion” is an accurate quote, Tom.

              As to a war on religion in the public square, as long as Christians are willing to let Muslims put a hammer and sickle and satanists put up an upside down cross, I think most most secularists would stop complaining about right-side up crosses and creches.  That’s the price for having religion in the public square–you might be willing to pay it, but I’m not sure most Christians would be.Report

            • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              Tom, I argued my point. I see you’re incapable of doing the same, as usual.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

                Thx for the ad hom, Chris.  Regression to the mean.  And the nasty.

                As to the continued effort to stick “persecuted” in Perry’s mouth, asked and answered infra, why it’s merely a play to pejoratives and emotion.

                “Oh, poor little atheists, persecuted when they sing about Baby Jesus in the school play.  Get a life.”

                The shoe fits easily on the other foot as well, but sarcasm is not argument—either way on this one.  So yes, you have your point, Chris, and yes, you’re argumentative, but that does not sum up to making an argument.

                There are principled people discussing this in the thread; pls forgive me if I turn my attention to them.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Dude, you just wrote all of that to say nothing but, “You’re a big meanie?” Also, I don’t think you know what ad hominem, the fallacy, means.

                My point, which I made pretty clearly and which you haven’t addressed, was that it’s not an unreasonable conclusion to draw from Perry’s ad that he’s suggesting Christians are persecuted. If you disagree, that’s fine, but there’s nothing dishonest about what I said. That you keep suggesting as much, and then accusing me of ad hominem (which you don’t know the meaning of), is amusing, but not particularly becoming.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

            Doesn’t the term ‘culture war’ originate with conservatives? So there’s the war part … that’s pretty clear. Then there’s the culture part. It seems to me that conservatives feel like naturally occurring (ie, unorchestrated!) cultural evolution constitutes an attack on their values. And since any change inconsistent with conservative values is a liberal change, it’s the liberals fault. They started it.


        • Steve S. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school…Obama’s war on religion…liberal attacks on our religious heritage. 

          You don’t call that a claim of persecution?


  • Oh, for fish sake, Tom, don’t pretend you don’t know the difference between the free exercise clause and the establishment clause.

    No word games at all–you’re trying to have us believe someone actually has to use the word persecution before they actually are suggesting persecution.  In your world, apparently, everyone who speaks is perfectly literal at all times, and the word implication is stricken from the dictionary.

    Give us a break; you’re the only one playing word games here.  So often you write like a sensible intelligent person, then you go off on jags like this where you make arguments that nobody with an IQ above room temperature can take seriously.Report

  • Tom Van Dyke in reply to James Hanley says:

    You can caricature Perry’s argument and put words in his mouth.  You win.  I’m tired of this, and have had my say.Report

  • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    It’s hard to caricature “war on religion.” That does a pretty good job of caricaturing itself. However, despite the fact that Perry doesn’t use the word “persecution,” you’ve yet to argue how saying that your political and cultural opponents are waging a war on you is not at minimum the equivalent of saying that they are persecuting you.Report

  • Yes, Chris, I’ve yet to argue it because I won’t try to shout over somebody trying to shout me down.  Of course I have more arguments: I’ve barely been able to complete my opening remarks. You should know that about me by now. Instead…this.

    And I don’t want this. No good can come of it.Report

  • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    Seriously Tom, you’re a drama queen. Nothing I’ve said resembles shouting. I made a point. I made it twice, in fact. I further pointed out that you haven’t even addressed it, but accused me of lying, of doing what Perry did, and so on. On top of that, you’ve wasted hundreds of words saying I’m a meanie. I may be an asshole, Tom, but at least I’m an intellectually honest one. You, on the other hand… well, I think your commenting and posting oeuvre speaks for itself, and your behavior here is representative.Report

  • To clarify, stopping a preacher from proselytizing touches on the establishment clause, whereas stopping a student from praying touches on the free exercise clause.

    Now you are putting words in Perry’s mouth when you claim he is only referring to a war on religion in the public square, because he didn’t say that, and it’s hellaciously incongruous for you to criticize someone else for misquoting him–who in fact quoted him precisely–when you are going to tell us that he really meant these words that he never said.  That’s pretty damned hypocritical of you.

    And when a student is stopped from praying in the public school, that’s not an attack on religion in the public square, but an attack on an individual’s free exercise rights.  The only reason any of Perry’s listeners might confuse the two is because they see limiting government promotion of religion as equal to limiting free exercise, which is to say that they see it all as an attack on religion; hence they see it as a persecution of religion.Report

  • Typical Van Dyke, make a claim you can’t back up; do exactly what you criticize others of doing; then run away pretending to be the victim.


  • Tom Van Dyke in reply to James Hanley says:

    And typical Hanley, getting his ass kicked in yet another civil debate and pressing the jerk button.


    Good day, sir.Report

  • Van Dyke, are you once again playing your little game of claiming victory while running away?

    I haven’t seen that one for a while.  It’s good to know you’re still playing that sad little game.

    How much would I have to pay you to get you to be honest in debate?  Most people I disagree with here I think are just misguided; you are the only person I consistently am persuaded is just fundamentally dishonest and unwilling to face up to it.



  • Tom Van Dyke in reply to James Hanley says:

    Nobody wins a pissing contest, James.  Put it back in your pants; I just left.Report

  • By my count that’s the third time you’ve left!

    1. “I’ve had my say.”

    2. “Good day, sir.”

    3. “I just left.”

    I really should let this go now, but it just cracks me up.Report

  • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    Tom, I would contend that the FFRF is more like the Westboro Baptists: they get a lot of press, but I don’t think they’re a big enough opponent to qualify engagement with them as “War”.  Your point otherwise (that Perry is not eloquently making his case) is valid.

    But to Perry’s target audience, this is not necessarily how the Constitution must be interpreted.  [Neither is the Supreme Court itself unanimous.]

    Agreed.  However, I do think James likewise has a point in that this *is* deliberately attempting to provoke feelings of persecution.  In particular: “And the false claim that kids are not allowed to celebrate Christmas or pray in public schools is a damned strong implication” speaks to the validity of this interpretation of the bit, simply because it is a false claim.

    While you and I and a couple of beers can have a principled discussion about what constitutes “establishment”, I can’t help but see this as an attempt to distribute FUD on Perry’s part.  Since the FUD isn’t helping the greater public actually come to the table and discuss the established clause without carrying a lot of baggage, I think this is a fair point.Report

  • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

    PatC, by their own accounts, FFRF is winning in court.  Basically, they’re finding pockets where current SC legal theory [Lemon test, etc.] is being ignored, and holding feet to the fire.

    I don’t put FFRF in the Westboro crank column atall.  Their argument per the list I posted is valid and indeed is pretty much current law.  [Although sometimes they lose as they reach further.]

    I could [and I think have] made Perry’s case without making a hash of it.  I see both points of view and find each to be valid in their way; my dissent [and that of some SC justices] is about what the Establishment Clause has “evolved” into, which I think is at odds with the Founding’s understanding of it.  [As you know, religion and the Founding has been a specialty of mine for some years now.]

    In my view, only a “living” Constitution demands things like the Lemon test, and the Constitution as ratified doesn’t demand this level of strict separation atall.

    As for the “persecution” thing, I’ve registered my objection to putting the word in Perry’s mouth [or anybody unless they actually said it].  At best, it’s a pejorative: boohoo, they’re persecuting Christians, poor us, and the rest of that bilge that has been stated over & over here already.  It’s an attempt to make the other side unsympathetic, and has no probative value.  Indeed it derails and cheapens the discussion of the real issues as limned above.

    Perry should have argued against Obama for not defending DOMA, let DADT slide, mebbe [justifiably] sounded the dog whistle on “cling,” and otherwise argued against the judicial establishment and the current tide on the EC.

    BTW, a top Perry adviser thought the thing was “nuts.”

    Me, I think I came down hard enough with “patent dishonesty,” so I’m not going to accept the brown end of the stick on this one.


  • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    I don’t put FFRF in the Westboro crank column atall.  Their argument per the list I posted is valid and indeed is pretty much current law.

    Sorry, I should have been much more explicit about the equivalency I was drawing.  What I meant is that the FFRF (and in some other cases the ACLU, and other organizations, and individuals that have won court cases in this particular area) are indeed pushing a secular agenda into the institutional State sphere; that is to say, they’re pursuing a non-religious State/Federal institutional character.  No crosses on public land, etc.  But they certainly aren’t pushing a secular agenda into greater public society (nor would they ever succeed, I’d imagine); as pointed out elsewhere you can still pray in public schools, commercial interests still put up Christmas decorations, etc.

    In that sense, they’re a bit player in what is characterized as the “War on Religion”.  You can take the Ten Commandments off the courthouse lawn, but you certainly can’t take the living creche off the church one, and they’re both there, in the town square.

    From your position, I can see a principled stand against the FFRF on various grounds, but that’s not what I was talking about.

    From a fundamentalist standpoint, the FFRF is a stand-in for a non-existent concentrated, coordinated attack that actually isn’t occurring.  It’s like the liberal freakouts about the Focus on the Family people.

    Or, non-politically, everybody’s freakouts about the Bastard of Westboro.

    They’re attributing not only legitimate actions (which may or may not be good ones; that’s to be argued elsewhere), but rumored actions, innuendo, and cultural fears to a Them.  You know, those They That Are Out To Get Us.  And, as exhibited here on this thread, this causes the other Not Us (but, to be clear, not Them) to add this freakout to the laundry list of “See, those Us over there think We are They.  Jesus, those Us are assholes.”

    This makes it hard to have an intelligent conversation.Report

  • Governor Perry promises to “…end Obama’s war on religion.” He also promises to “…fight liberal attacks on our religious heritage.” That second clause can reasonably be aplied to the FFRF’s litigation agenda. This is not the forum in which to debate either the legal or cultural merits of FFRF’s agenda and thus not the forum in which to debate the accuracy of Governor Perry’s characterization of it. It is sufficient here to note that Obama ? FFRF. Preisdent Obama and the FFRF disagree on quite a lot of things. Like this.

    If Governor Perry does seek to equate or link President Obama’s agenda with FFRF’s, that too would be dishonest.Report

  • Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

    Technical difficulties: if your browser shows “Obama ? FFRF” then that should be read as “Obama does not equal FFRF.” For some reason the symbol does not show up well here.Report

  • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Burt Likko says:

    Oh, I meant to be explicit on that, Burt: Linking FFRF and BHO is patently dishonest.

    Perhaps, since this is an area of study for me, both of our religious history and of evangelicals, I can hear a tune in the dog whistle: it’s a complex narrative of America’s religious history being systematically bleached out by the secular [needless to say leftist] academic establishment over the past century, also signified by BHO’s explicit disavowal of us as a “Christian Nation.”

    Of course, Perry’s is an undifferentiated soup, a generic attack against left/secular cultural hegemony, the courts, all put in a campaign kettle labeled “Obama.”

    An incoherent mess, and that’s his biggest sin of all, trying to say too much and none of it well.Report

  • wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    Tom, I know you’ve been bummed lately and can sense it in your otherwise excellent comments recently. You’re saying the right things but in the wrong way and getting taken the wrong way too. I sensed the same thing in my own posts on global warming. I know what I know and I simply have too much involvement to make a coherent point, I can’t even make a post with the (literally) hundreds of links that would back up my position. Ultimately though, I realized I was just too close to the problem and too emotionally involved, even when I tried to distance myself. You’ve said you’ve been studying this and I sincerely believe you have. You know so much about it that you assume others can follow your logic, when in fact they can’t see what you can because they’re not standing on the same shoulders you are. My advice is to follow your own dictate and walk away from this thread.

    Better yet, don’t try to shoehorn your good ideas in an awkward situation but make the kind of front page OP you’ve got in you, defining your own terms and setting the table properly for a good gentlemanly discussion.

    That’s my unasked for advice at any rate. YMMV.Report

  • Thx, Mr. Smith.  I’ll take yr advice with no further comment.Report

  • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    … do left-wing evangelicals bitch about this?Report

  • Left wing evangelicals bitch about right wing evangelicals bitching about persecution.  See, for example, Fred Clark’s Slacktivist blog.Report

  • Steve S. in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

    Sorry, but setting the bar at concentration camps or mass executions is silly.  Perry said little Christian boys and girls are being prevented from practicing their religion, “persecution” is a perfectly good paraphrase of that as far as I’m concerned.  Or do you have a superior term for the intermediate state between open practice and the gulag?Report

  • Chris in reply to Steve S. says:

    A certain persecution complex has been an integral part of certain breeds of Christianity since, well, since they were actually persecuted. It’s wouldn’t go away even if 100% of the population was comprised of Evangelical Christians.Report

  • Rufus F. says:

    Well, to be fair, it does seem to be a logical conclusion that, if gays can serve in the military, children should be allowed to pray in school. Moreover, if soldiers are allowed to pray in the military, it only seems reasonable that children should be allowed to serve in combat.Report

  • Kolohe says:

    I thought we agreed that it’s now called a ‘kinetic faith action?’Report

  • Burt Likko says:

    Didn’t take long for parodies.

    And I was so busy being outraged by the content of the ad that I missed something from the CMTSU department: Perry is wearing a jacket that looks a lot like the one Heath Ledger wore in Brokeback Mountain. Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, I tells you what…Report

    • Heh, I suppose that is ironic.

      For you L.A. lawyer-to-the-stars types (*grin*) that would be a <a href=””>Carhartts jacket</a>, something many an Iowan farmer wears on a daily basis in cold weather.  Despite the Brokeback Mountain link, it’s a good sartorial style for running in the Iowa caucuses. But since Rick Perry was a farmer, and Carhartts is also popular in Texas, it’s a pretty good bet he’s more familiar with this jacket than John Kerry was with his hunting jacket.Report

  • A Teacher says:

    Dear Governor Perry:

    As long as I give pop quizzes my students will pray in public schools.  Many of them even try praying to several different Deities “Just in case”.



    • kenB in reply to A Teacher says:

      Reminds me of a bit from The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga:

      It is an ancient and venerated custom of people in my country to start a story by praying to a Higher Power.
      I guess, Your Excellency, that I too should start off by kissing some god’s arse.  Which god’s arse, though? There are so many choices.
      See, the Muslims have one god.
      The Christians have three gods.
      And we Hindus have 36,000,000 gods.
      Making a grand total of 36,000,004 divine arses for me to choose from.Report