Back in December, when he was just one more Republican running for his party’s presidential nomination, Rick Perry condemned the Obama administration for its “war on religion.” Days later, Barack Obama’s loyal aide Valerie Jarrett preached politics from the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. The juxtaposition might have looked odd, except that Perry had a point: Religion that does not conform with liberalism is an enemy of the Left.
Liberalism has become, in some respects, sexual libertinism. It’s not just “anything goes.” It’s that we now have a fundamental right to anything goes, and taxpayer-funded tools to sustain that lifestyle. You see that in regulations and explicit campaigning. It’s some of what’s behind over-the-top “war on women” rhetoric, even when well intentioned.
When I think of the brief campaign of the Texas governor, this is what I’ll remember: A little bit of clarity. Cowboy boots stomping, on a march against the federal government’s vindicating and indeed mandating a sea-change in morality. Someone who challenged the lie that only one side sees any connection between morality and government.
One of the worst debates of the primary campaign was also one of the best, thanks in part to Perry. It was a Saturday night in Manchester, N.H. — the first of a doubleheader. The moderators kept asking questions about contraception and homosexuality, as if, if the question were asked enough times, one of the candidates would crack, and admit secret plans to issue presidential orders to seize your birth control. Mitt Romney defended his record on marriage while governor of Massachusetts, championing the traditional family and its supportive institutions.
Newt Gingrich asked, “Should the Catholic Church be forced to close its adoption services in Massachusetts because it won’t accept gay couples?” — which is exactly what the state has done. “Should the Catholic Church be driven out of providing charitable services in the District of Columbia because it won’t give in to secular bigotry? Should the Catholic Church find itself discriminated against by the Obama administration on key delivery of services because of the bias and the bigotry of the administration?”
“The bigotry question goes both ways,” Gingrich said. “And there’s a lot more anti-Christian bigotry today than there is concerning the other side. And none of it gets covered by the news media.”
In what was turning into an ecumenical standoff, a Mormon and a Catholic convert were defending the conscience rights of Catholics, both knowing that issues about health-care mandates, abortion funding, government contracts, and rewriting marriage laws affect religious liberty at its core. Rick Perry didn’t have to jump in, but he did. And the evangelical Christian presented an even clearer picture than his opponents: “This administration’s war on religion is what bothers me greatly,” Perry said. “When we see an administration that will not defend the Defense of Marriage Act; that gives their Justice Department clear instructions to go take the ministerial exception away from our churches — where that’s never happened before. When we see this administration not giving money to Catholic Charities for sexually trafficked individuals because they don’t agree with the Catholic Church on abortion, that is a war against religion. And it’s going to stop under a Perry administration.”