To Pray or Not to Pray

Texas Governor Rick Perry, the “Christocrat” possible candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, has announced his participation in “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis.” Praying with and for the support of pastors is nothing new for Perry, who will be humbling himself in Houston just one week before the Ames presidential straw poll in Iowa.

Perry has invited other governors “to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose. We want the presence, power, and person of Christ to fill our nation and turn the hearts of millions to righteousness, peace, and joy in Him.”

Perry apparently believes this is the only solution to America’s ” historic crisis” in which it is “besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters.” How about some governing, then? Nah, just some prayer.

As Right Wing Watch notes, the event boasts a number of people involved in the Restoration and Renewal Projects, including David Lane, former Congressman Bob McEwen, and the American Family Association’s Don Wildmon. Perry’s effort also includes staffers from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, a 24-7 prayer project of Lou Engle and others. The inspiration for the event is a “solemn assembly” of “prayer and fasting” for which the organizers cite Joel 2:12, the basis for many of Engle’s events, aimed at combatting “Antichrist legislation,” among other things.

Perry knows his base, even if he’s out of step with the rest of the country. Herman Cain, though, heralded as the big Tea Party favorite of the moment, not so much. He told TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro that Michele Bachmann’s prayer with the audience at the Faith and Freedom Coalition was the “ultimate pander.” No kidding, but that’s not exactly the way to win the GOP primary.

Meanwhile Perry, who clearly does understand that audience as Bachmann does, is under the microscope by secular groups. The Secular Coalition for America released a statement this morning calling on its supporters to “to contact their governors and ask that they stand up for all Americans, regardless of religion or worldview, by rejecting Perry’s invitation to this divisive, extremist-sponsored event and ask elected officials to work on solutions to substantive problems that face all Americans.”

“Calling upon all Americans to embrace Perry’s personal belief system is an insult to the millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity, as well as the millions of secular Americans who contribute to society without pushing their views on others,” SCA executive director Sean Faircloth said in the statement. “Rather than lament that our nation’s challenges are insurmountable and ask that all Americans turn to an evangelical version of Christianity for solutions, our governors should instead focus on finding real-world solutions to real-world problems.”

Um, amen.

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