In an ad being run in Iowa, Texas Governor Rick Perry says, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian. But you don’t have to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion, and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”
I have several thoughts about this, beginning with this one: To the degree that any person in this campaign has championed a “war” against religion, it is what Herman Cain advocated vis-à-vis Muslims – from saying he would deny them a spot in his Cabinet and on the federal bench to advocating a “loyalty proof.” So perhaps Governor Perry’s next ad can target Cain’s “war on religion.”
This doesn’t mean, of course, that there are not problematic court rulings when it comes to religion in the public square or efforts to misrepresent our religious heritage. But as a Christian who attends church on a weekly basis, hosts a Bible study, reads the Scriptures, speaks openly about my faith (and even writes about it from time to time on this web site), and who can pray at any moment of the day or night, I would say this: Whatever is happening in America today, it cannot fairly be considered a “war” on Christianity.
In addition, I’d offer this slightly more theological observation: The main threat to Christianity in America is not that a “war” is being declared on it; it is that those of us who are Christian are too comfortable in this world, which the founder of Christianity said is not our true home.
As for Perry’s invocation of gays in the military: that is a prudential judgment having to do with military readiness. And many of our top military officers support allowing gays to serve in the military. To contrast gays serving in the military with kids not openly celebrating Christmas is a very unfortunate road to travel down. If Governor Perry, a self-proclaimed Christian, is really interested in channeling the cares and concerns of Jesus, he might consider saying a word about poverty and injustice, which seemed to have concerned Jesus even more than gays in the military.
Sometimes the worst advertisements for Christianity are its adherents. For more, see Rick Perry’s Iowa ad.