Texas GOP Fascists sign religious decrees into law at the church house
Non-Christians, raped girls, and gays need not apply:
Texas Governor Draws Criticism for a Bill-Signing Event at an Evangelical School
By RALPH BLUMENTHAL
New York Times
Published: June 6, 2005
FORT WORTH, June 5 - Making good on a Republican campaign call to celebrate with "Christian friends," Gov. Rick Perry traveled to an evangelical school here on Sunday to put his signature on measures to restrict abortion and prohibit same-sex marriage.
About 100 protesters lined the street outside the school, Calvary Christian Academy, denouncing the unusual signing as breaching the constitutional separation between church and state.
The event, termed historic by the church's pastor, Bob Nichols, was pointedly held in the academy's gymnasium, apart from the church sanctuary, to deflect complaints. A plan by the Perry campaign to film the event for political commercials was dropped earlier.
Mr. Perry, who may face a tough primary challenge next year, described the event as "pro-family, pro-life" and nonpartisan. On a dais before a cheering crowd of close to 1,000 churchgoers and leaders of evangelical ministries, he signed a bill passed during this session of the Texas Legislature requiring girls under 18 to obtain their parents' consent before having an abortion. Previously, they needed only to notify their parents.
"We may be on the grounds of a Christian church, but we all believe in standing up for the unborn," Mr. Perry said.
He also said he was putting his signature - although it was not required - on a measure that places a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages before Texas voters on Nov. 8. "Activist judges have used the bench to advance a narrow agenda," the governor said, adding that the measure defining marriage as a sacred bond between a man and a woman "places it beyond the reach of activist judges."
The event caused a stir last week after The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on plans for it. The Perry campaign later released the text of an e-mail message sent to religious groups. It said in part, "We want to completely fill this location with pro-family Christian friends who can celebrate with us."
It continued: "We really need for you to help us turn out a very large crowd. We may also film part of this to be used later for TV."
Luis Saenz, Mr. Perry's campaign director, said the filming plan was dropped "a long time ago."
"People of all faiths are welcome," Mr. Saenz said.
Rabbi David Stone of the Beth Yeshua Messianic Jewish Congregation in Fort Worth, was, in fact, present and gave the closing benediction. The group believes that Jesus was the Messiah, a tenet heretical to traditional Jews.
Kathy Walt, a spokeswoman for Mr. Perry, said, "It's not a separation of church and state issue: it's not limited to people of one faith." The governor, Ms. Walt said, "is signing a piece of legislation that reflects the values and interests of the majority of Texans."
She said Mr. Perry had signed bills in a variety of places outside Austin before, but she and Mr. Saenz said they could not recall any in a religious institution.
The event was denounced last week by a religious liberty watchdog group in Washington, Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Its executive director, Barry W. Lynn, wrote Mr. Perry asking him to call the event off, saying it "has the appearance of a campaign rally" and was putting the tax-exempt status of Calvary Christian Academy at risk.
Several professors at Southern Methodist University in Dallas denounced the planned event as rare, if not unprecedented, by a Texas governor.
The Rev. Robin Lovin, a Methodist minister and an S.M.U. professor holding the Maguire Chair in Ethics, said, "There are lots of reasons to go to church on Sunday, but making laws isn't one of them."
Signing a bill into law in a church, he added, "is a pretty clear symbol that the church is at the service of the state or the state is at the service of the church and either way we've crossed an important line that has a long history in both politics and theology."
Protesters outside the suburban church grounds carried signs reading "Jesus Was a Liberal," "The Soul Has No Gender" and "Hey, Rick, It's Education, Stupid" - a reference to the failure to pass a crucial education financing bill in Austin.
One protester, Joe Duvall, 36, a nightclub manager in Fort Worth, said he saw the event as an effort by the governor to shore up support. "Rick Perry is in trouble politically because the G.O.P. refuses to unite us around public schools," he said. Among Mr. Perry's potential primary challengers next year is Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
But inside the gym, the crowd was clearly adoring. "Family values is what it's all about," said Joel Victory, 62, a stockbroker from Cleburne to the south. He had no problem with the setting, he said. "Look at your coins," he said. "Our currency is built on 'In God We Trust.' "
Pastor Lawrence White of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston said churches had long played major roles in American political life, as meeting houses during the Revolution and sanctuaries during the civil rights era. "Everything of significance in the United States of America began in her churches," he said to ringing cheers and applause.
"This is not about candidates and politics, Republicans and Democrats," he added. "This is about life."
He continued, "When the governor of Texas will stand for life and marriage and family, then we will stand with him."
But nobody mentioned Texas' position as the state with the most executions.
One of the most impassioned speakers was Rod Parsley, senior pastor of the World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and the author of the recent book "Silent No More."
He urged Christians to speak out on public issues. "Silence is not golden; it's yellow," he said. Mr. Parsley also painted a grim picture of gay men and lesbians. "We are not to sacrifice our children on the altar of sexual lust of a few," he said.
At times the event resembled a pep rally. "I heard that Texans were built for the battle," Mr. Parsley said to roars of approval.
Several speakers joked about the decision to set the event in the gymnasium rather than the church.
"I didn't know you could make something in a school gymnasium so controversial," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative social policy organization. "Christians have abandoned the public square for so many years," he said, and now it is time speak out.
Don Wildmon, president and founder of the American Family Association, drew applause when he said he was proud to live in a country where people could protest. But he portrayed the controversy over the use of a church gym as silly. "Of all the things in the worlds to argue about," he said.
Then he said: "This is not the sanctuary. God ain't in here. He's in there!" He pointed outside in the direction of the church.
When he got up to speak, Gov. Perry said: "I'm confused where God is: He's everywhere. If we did this in a parking lot of Wal-Mart, God would be there."
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address