In the ad, a very strong and rustic looking Rick Perry says proudly "I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know 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. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again. I'm Rick Perry and I approve this message."
The holidays are a special time of year to pause and take stock of the many blessings we enjoy, not just as human beings, but as Americans and Texans. Of all those blessings, I'd offer that the most precious is our freedom.
There are thousands of Texans serving the cause of freedom all over the world, in dangerous places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Driven by a dedication to our country and communities, they'll spend the holidays thousands of miles from parents, friends, spouses and children.
I encourage you to keep our fighting men and women in your thoughts and prayers, along with their families who anxiously await their return. At the same time, I hope you'll remember the folks who keep our neighborhoods safe: our state's first responders.
While we enjoy the comforts of home with loved ones, these brave men and women are on the job, providing care in the back of an ambulance, preparing to respond to a fire call or patrolling our international border.
We should never take them for granted and we should definitely keep them in our prayers as they sacrifice for our safety.
So, during this holiday season, remember to thank a first responder or salute a veteran for their service and pray for God's protection on them and their families.
May God bless you and, through you, may He continue to bless the Great State of Texas.
In contrast, President Obama's Christmas message was just that–centered around Christ:
More than 2,000 years ago, a child was born to two faithful travelers who could find rest only in a stable, among the cattle and the sheep. But this was not just any child. Christ's birth made the angels rejoice and attracted shepherds and kings from afar. He was a manifestation of God's love for us. And He grew up to become a leader with a servant's heart who taught us a message as simple as it is powerful: that we should love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
That teaching has come to encircle the globe. It has endured for generations. And today, it lies at the heart of my Christian faith and that of millions of Americans. No matter who we are, or where we come from, or how we worship, it's a message that can unite all of us on this holiday season.
So long as the gifts and the parties are happening, it's important for us to keep in mind the central message of this season, and keep Christ's words not only in our thoughts, but also in our deeds. In this season of hope, let's help those who need it most — the homeless, the hungry, the sick and shut in. In this season of plenty, let's reach out to those who struggle to find work or provide for their families. In this season of generosity, let's give thanks and honor to our troops and our veterans, and their families who've sacrificed so much for us. And let's welcome all those who are happily coming home. (Applause.)
Finally, Perry made a major error when he said that children are not allowed to pray in schools. In Jeff Weiss' editorial "Quit Thinking Prayer is Banned," in Real Clear Religion, Weiss states:
Wrote AP political reporter Beth Fouhy: "The Supreme Court prohibited school prayer in two landmark decisions in 1962 and 1963, calling it an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment."
Which is sooo close to being correct. The court actually prohibited mandatory school prayer. And that one word makes all the difference. (See: Twain, Mark on lightning-bug vs. lightning.) [emphasis ours]
The truth is that kids pray in schools and on school grounds all the time. Many surely do it silently before the math midterms. But they also pray very publicly, in organized events. They do it plenty in Rick Perry's Texas, as a matter of fact.
"See You At The Pole" is a national student-organized morning of Christian prayer that started in 1990 at one school in Burleson. As the official SYAP website explains:
"The vision was that students throughout Texas would follow these examples and meet at their school flagpoles to pray simultaneously."
According to the site, students by the millions have met annually ever since at their school flagpoles to engage in explicitly, evangelically Christian prayer. It happens before the school day begins, but it's surely and openly at the schools.
But maybe these kids are breaking some law? Let's turn to organizations that make it a point to know exactly how the law applies to prayer at schools.
How about the ACLU? It's got a position page on prayer and schools. Here's a nugget:
"There are times when religion at school is appropriate. Students' rights to pray voluntarily and express themselves religiously are intrinsically important."
Maybe Perry would be more comfortable with a Texas source, the Liberty Legal Institute. This is the outfit that has a longstanding lawsuit against a Texas school district that wouldn't let a kid pass out pens shaped like candy canes and affixed with a frankly bogus Christian "history" of the candy cane design.
Hiram Sasser is the Director of Litigation and he wrote a position paper on this very topic. Here's a nugget:
"Neither prayer nor the Bible has been banned from the schools. Indeed, prayer receives a significant amount of protection in public schools…"
But not everyone was comfortable with the script. When the ad was being crafted several weeks ago, Perry's top pollster, Tony Fabrizio, called it "nuts," according to an email sent from Fabrizio to the ad's main creator, longtime GOP operative Nelson Warfield. In a separate email to The Huffington Post, Warfield confirmed that the ad was made over Fabrizio's objections."Tony was against it from the get-go," Warfield wrote. "It was the source of some extended conversation in the campaign. To be very clear: That spot was mine from writing the poll question to test[ing] it to drafting the script to overseeing production."That a presidential campaign would suffer from internal disagreements over a controversial ad or broader campaign strategy is far from shocking. High-stakes political operations are often rife with strategic disputes. But it is rare for those disputes to spill over into public view and even rarer (at least when it comes to Republican politics) for them to center on the issue of gay rights.It just so happens that several members of Perry's campaign staff have worked to advance LGBT causes inside the GOP. Liz Mair, a consultant to the Texas governor, serves on the advisory board of the group GOProud. And Fabrizio has done polling for the Log Cabin Republicans in addition to urging lawmakers to reconsider their approach to the culture wars and embrace basic fairness for gay Americans on the issue of marriage. He was considered an ally by pro-gay rights conservatives.