First stop President, next stop Messiah

Not more than a day after the Republican Presidential debate improved Rick Perry’s chances without him having uttered a word, he fell to the occasion by claiming he was Jesus.

Perry’s exact words? “I say that a prophet is generally not loved in their hometown. That’s both Biblical and practical.” Not to mention completely ungrammatical. But what can you expect of someone who graduated from one of the nation’s poorest performing states in education?

You can find the statement just about anywhere on the web. I’m citing 1
Rick Connelly in the Houston Press.

His remark came in answer to a question about his unpopularity in Texas. And he is unpopular. I don’t know anyone who likes him. But that doesn’t matter because the only person Texans hate more than Rick Perry is any Democrat who opposes him. Especially now that Obama has tainted the purity of the Democratic bloodlines.

Rick Perry’s new official self-portrait, commissioned after his “prophet without honor” press conference.

All Perry had to say was, “If I’m that unpopular, why have they reelected me so damn many times?” Admittedly, this is a question that puzzles me as well. But he didn’t provide it. He chose to imply that he’s unpopular because he’s a prophet.

Not just any prophet, mind you. He took the words right out of Jesus’ mouth. So even though he didn’t technically refer to himself as Jesus, it’s hard to avoid drawing the conclusion. Either way, if you believe Hal Lindsay and Rapture theologians, this claim would qualify him as the AntiChrist, or the prophet of the AntiChrist.

If he actually becomes President.

If he loses, he would just become another delusional heretic like David Koresh or Jim Jones, leading his Texas flock to metaphorical suicide (which is pretty much the way things are going down here).

But here’s the thing, Rick. A prophet is without honor in his own country, but so are fools, liars and panderers. Jesus was held in contempt because his friends and family members remembered him before he began his mission. This was their first encounter with him after he felt the call.

People hold you in contempt after you’ve actually completed several turns as governor. Nobody remembers you before your election; we know the man in office. Texans might argue that you are without honor in your own country because you’ve proved time and time again that you have no honor personally.

Ironically, Perry won’t suffer from his comment at all. Why? Because Republicans will forgive him just about anything since you can’t be Republican and not also be an Ambassador of Christ. Democrats already think he’s little more than George Bush’s Mini Me.

I find this ironic because Republicans howled at Obama’s use of messianic language (e.g., “bringing people together,” and, even worse, “I’m asking you to believe.”) The World Net Daily went so far as to suggest Democrats would coronate him Messiah based on reports of an Obama painting.2

To me, Perry’s statement is little more than another indication of how easily people use their faith to put blinders on their politics (and vice versa).

When I turned 18, a member of the first class of 18-year-olds to vote, I supported George McGovern. The pastor of my church and most of the elders told me I shouldn’t support McGovern, not just because he was against Jesus but because Christians shouldn’t get involved in politics. Never mind the fact that McGovern was a devout Methodist and former president of Wesleyan University.

Eight years later, those same Christians would join the religious right and vote born again Christian Jimmy Carter out of office, to replace him with a man who would never profess Christianity personally, but only admit that he “believed in a higher power” and didn’t attend church because he didn’t want people to be endangered by assassins trying to kill him. 3

I didn’t understand why so many evangelicals hated McGovern, because at the time I thought Methodists were partners in the Alliance of Light (Methodists, Baptists and Congregationalists‚ÄĒmaybe Presbyterians) against the spiritual Axis of Evil (Catholics, Communists and Counter Culturalists). In retrospect, I can see the handwriting was on the wall. Methodists were so close to the center they would inevitably be lumped in with Episcopalians.

The Christian Right doesn’t want to separate faith from politics because it allows them to divert the faithful from the truth. There is big money in corporate politics, Republican campaigns and mega-church evangelism. Not all mega-churches are evil, but sooner or later growth becomes the bottom line in faith as well as business. More souls saved means bigger churches, more influence politically and more money raised.

The early church was about the nurturing and care of Christians as much as it was about evangelism. If the church didn’t continue to serve the physical and social needs of new believers (most of them poor), they would drift way.

In the book of Acts, the twelve Apostles in Jerusalem did not evangelize, they spent their time in prayer. They appointed deacons to physically serve the needs of the fellowship. Unfortunately, as always, the evangelists got the glory.

Even Paul’s work as a tent maker, while he spent months supporting himself to build churches and make sure the money went to the poorer members (and to support the church in Jerusalem), gets lost in the tales of adventure and evangelism.

The Christian Right is a profitable enterprise, and you can bet Rick Perry will capitalize on the brand to promote a political ideology that has impoverished Texans, Christian and non-Christian alike.

When Carol first read about Perry’s claim, she posted on Facebook: “I know Jesus, and Rick Perry isn’t Jesus.”

None of these guys are, so maybe we should put aside the filter of faith when listening to politicians. We want to elect politicians whose policies show care and concern for the least of us, as did Jesus. We don’t want politicians who turn faith into another corporate brand.


1If you’re not sure why the passage isn’t grammatical, you probably graduated from a Texas school just like Rick Perry’s. So move to a state with good schools while you can, because Perry and his cronies in the Legislature are determined to even reduce universities to football powers and academic wastelands.
Pro analysts complained that UT national champion and quarterback Vince Young could barely read the playbook. By the time the current cuts are finished, he would qualify for Texas MENSA (which handicaps applicants from Texas by adding 80 points to their IQs).

2 If you read the article, it’s clear that the painting that provokes the messianic coronation article was never intended to deify Obama. The article includes the obligatory artist’s comment without actually stopping to think what he’s actually saying.

“More than a presidential portrait,” writes D’Antuono on a website touting the painting, “‘The Truth’ is a politically, religiously and socially-charged statement on our nation’s current political climate and deep partisan divide that is sure to create a dialogue.”back

It reminds me of the “Jesus (heart) George and Osama” bumper sticker I wanted to make before Carol convinced me some asshole would trash our car in a fit of Christian charity.

3He made the statement in a Presidential debate against Mondale.back


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