Perry Prayer Event “Getting Traction” with Religious Right Elites

The religious right is signing on en masse to Rick Perry’s August 6 prayer rally.

From a press release from American Family Association, sponsor of the event:

American Family Association says three more respected Christian leaders have been named as co-chairpersons of the upcoming The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis prayer event.

The new co-chairpersons are Penny Nance, President and CEO of Concerned Women for America; Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council; and Frank Wright, President of the National Religious Broadcasters. . . .

Co-chairpersons announced earlier include Dr. James Dobson and his wife Shirley, Rev. Sammy Rodriquez, Dr. Tony Evans, and Dr. Richard Land.

To date, the focus on Perry’s rally has been on the extremism of his co-hosts and participants, and Perry has attempted unsuccessfully to deflect that attention. Under fire over the participants’ statements and beliefs, yesterday Perry told the Dallas Morning News:

I’m sure that through my elections in the past that there have been some groups that have endorsed me publicly, that I appreciate their endorsements, but their endorsements of me doesn’t mean I endorse what they believe in or what they say.

That misrepresents the issue, obviously. The AFA, for example, is not just endorsing Perry; it is paying for an event of which he is the “initiator,” according to its website. And the AFA, as the DMN piece points out, employs a radio host, Bryan Fischer, who “has said that Adolf Hitler began the Nazi party in a gay bar and recruited gays into his army because others would not match ‘the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict.’” That’s just one piece of Fischer’s and the AFA’s bigotry; even its own former employees decry the organization’s abusive, authoritarian structure and the tolerance of anti-gay and anti-Muslim bigotry within it. That’s the America that Perry and his friends will be praying for.

Today’s news, says a conservative evangelical insider, shows that Perry’s event is “getting traction.”

It also means this: as much as Perry’s associations with certain partners in this endeavor, including prayer warriors influenced by the New Apostolic Reformation and others, have been portrayed by Perry’s critics as evidence that he is cavorting with the fringe even of the religious right, the religious right obviously doesn’t see it that way. Its leadership is closing ranks around Perry and his associates, perhaps not necessarily as evidence of their support of a presidential run, but of their support of his spiritual warfare in defense of their idea of Christian American exceptionalism.

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, covers politics and religion. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The American ProspectThe NationSalon, and other publications. Follow her on TwitterRSS feed Email