Over the least few days, the press has reported about Rick Perry’s revival, a prayer rally for a nation in crisis. There are the normal complaints and reflections about the relationship between church and state. Was it appropriate for Rick Perry to indulge the evangelical right? Should this worry the secular left? Will he impose a theocracy if elected?
I’m skeptical if Perry is as capable or religious as his followers may hope. He’s not been that effective as the public thinks he is. He was a cheerleader, probably a gregarious type, not all that bright when it came to books and ideas or thoughts. He clearly has a knack for relationships, and for power. He can please a crowd. He loves that.
But he knows. Any Republican is going to have to pander to the right wing evangelical crowd for the simple reason is that they are the footsoldiers of the Republican Party. There’s no getting around that ANY Republican needs to bridge both the evangelical wing and the Club for Growth crowd. The one brings money; the others bring votes.
The actual prayer rally was temperate. They prayed for Obama. There were some hard core fundamentalists there, but by and large it was apolitical. Perry was wearing another hat, this time, one cheering on the resentful and powerless.
But evangelicals are fickle. They could have gone the route of a more even tempered administrator like Mike Huckabee or extreme like Michelle Bachmann. Just 35 years ago they helped vote in our first evangelical as president, Jimmy Carter. So if there is one group that needs to be courted and tamed by the Republican establishment.
So in my view, the prayer rally is more about a political opportunist speaking the language convincingly to the most important supporters he has. But what evangelicals will find is that he also, like so many before, will prove to be an unsuitable messiah, who like all the others will sell out the Kingdom of God before the throne of Mammon. He just knows how to speak their sweet language and make promises he will be unable to keep. Evangelicals may think he was paying obeisance. A careful observer will note he was trying to tame the beast.
Constantine, or Charlemagne, he ain’t.