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God Sends a New Messenger from Texas

June 18, 2011

As his aides head off to Iowa to assess his prospects for a run at the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, Texas Governor Rick Perry has been hinting that he may be more than just the savior of the Republican Party. After issuing his invitation to the other 49 governors for an August 6 "day of prayer for a nation in crisis" at Houston's Reliant Stadium, Perry suggested that he was a "prophet." But if his message that "there is hope for America...and we will find it on our knees" sounds hauntingly familiar, it should. Not too long ago, another messenger for Jesus from Texas -disgraced House Majority Leader and convicted felon Tom Delay - said much the same thing.
To be sure, Perry's invocations of the Almighty resemble a secessionist version of the man he would succeed as governor of Texas and President of the United States. The portrait of George W. Bush as Savior was painted in books like Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy and Michael Lind's Made in Texas. Phillips concluded that George W. Bush was convinced that "God wanted him to be president", a view backed by Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, who reported, "Among the things he said to us was: I believe that God wants me to be president." As then White House official Tim Goeglein once put it, "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility."
As it turns out, another much less humble Texan made similar claims about himself.
From the beginning, Tom Delay compared the Hammer to the Carpenter. Congressman Delay, who once said, "I don't believe there is a separation of church and state," proclaimed his mission was to bring "a biblical worldview to government." When that message wasn't particularly well received, the former exterminator explained why:

"People hate the messenger. That's why they killed Christ."

On the day of his booking on conspiracy and money laundering charges five years ago, Delay hammered that same point home:

"Let people see Christ through me."

But if Jesus was willing to turn the other cheek, Tom Delay at events like "Justice Sunday" and the "War on Christians Conference" made clear he was not. After Pastor Rick Scarborough introduced him at the latter 2006 event by declaring, "This is a man, I believe, God has represent righteousness in government," Delay issued his battle cry:

"Sides are being chosen, and the future of man hangs in the balance! The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will."

The crusader formerly known as "Hot Tub Tom" also had his kinder, gentler side. "Just think of what we could accomplish," Delay urged the 54th National Day of Prayer gathering on Capitol Hill in 2006, "If we spent less time on our soapboxes and more time on our knees."
Sadly for Republicans and their amen corner, Delay's advice to spend "more time on our knees" didn't work out so well for the likes of Mark Foley, Ed Shrock, Ted Haggard or Larry Craig. Nevertheless, Governor Rick Perry is asking Americans to do the same at The Response conclave on August 6:

I sincerely hope you'll join me in Houston on August 6th and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God's forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.

Like Sarah Palin, Rick Perry believes Americans' shared destiny isn't in their own hands, but in His. Judging from the results of his April 21, 2011 "Proclamation for Days of Prayer for Rain" for drought-stricken Texas, the future of Perry's faith-based policy isn't bright.
Which may explain why those voters who know him best apparently like him least. When Neil Cavuto of Fox News asked him why he was "very popular outside your state, still popular but not nearly as popular within your state," Perry gave The Response that would have made Tom Delay smile:

"I say that a prophet is generally not loved in their hometown. That's both Biblical and practical."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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