Rick Perry's God

August 29, 2011

Does the Texas governor believe his idiotic religious rhetoric, or is he just pandering for votes?
By Christopher Hitchens

"I happened to spend several weeks in Texas earlier this year, while the Lone Star State lay under the pitiless glare of an unremitting drought. After a protracted arid interval, the state's immodest governor, Rick Perry, announced that he was using the authority vested in him to call for prayers for rain."

Read More (Slate)


Michael Dawson said...

So, is Hitchens now endorsing Perry? "Lower the tone nicely?"


Anonymous said...

An American politician need neither be a wholly atheistic statist nor a fervently dogmatic theocrat. American voters happen to regularly reject both of those extremes.

Setting up a litmus test for candidates who claim faith in religion is one way to imply people of faith will rule in a theocratic manner, with the possibility of theocracy increasing with the amount of faith in any particular candidate. A correlative litmus test, asking the less faithful candidates what they really do believe in, doesn’t resonate as well politically, because the answers are relatively unfettered by liturgy or dogma or even stereotype, and can be as amorphous and platitudinous as the politician can muster.

Perry is a Christian, regularly professes his faith and uses spiritual rhetoric to political effect. But if one sets up the spectrum as “is it better to have a candidate who actually believes in biblical inerrancy and the extreme youthfulness and recency of the Grand Canyon, or a candidate who half-affects such convictions in the hope of political gain?” then it is instructive to include President Obama in the inquiry as closest to the political gain end member, since Perry is actually somewhere more equidistant.

Obama wears his faith very lightly. His abandonment of Trinity United and Reverand Wright as soon as political pressure was felt in the 2008 campaign suggests that what he most valued from his association with that congregation was political cache, not spiritual succor. Presumably he is a fellow traveler along the road to “Social Justice”, but the litmus test for his type of faith doesn’t require him to answer questions about it in detail.

Maybe atheists and others value the aspect of Obama “punking” religious voters with a religious patina, and probably Obama pandered to them with the rejection of Trinity. But it is more politically cynical than Perry’s tacking.

Dan said...

No. You've not understood the sarcasm. It would run counter to every point in this article if Hitchens were to conclude that someone both pandering for votes and believing in superstition would be appropriate. Au contraire.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would Hitchens endorse Perry?

Anonymous said...

Well said anon 11:07 and one of the many reasons I cannot stand Obama and think his supporters are idiots

Karen Olsen said...

The simple phrase "inspirational meteorology" is worth the price of admission by itself (LOL)...

--Karen Olsen

Michael Dawson said...

The real point here is that Christianity, especially when loudly and crassly professed, is entirely fake, a mere self-congratulating gesture that carries no meaning. Hence, politicians are free to lie about their "faith," as Rick Perry so blatantly does. As Obama also did.

The first question for any genuine Christian would be what would Jesus make of the USA, the world's leading purveyor of war and economic polarization. How do we treat the meek, the least among us? Not well. How does one put that together with "Christian" participation in the process? You can't, unless you're a massively deluded hypocrite.

The fact that Hitchens is no longer interested in these facts leaves him tossing faint praise at mega-creep like Rick Perry.

Solly said...

I think it is absurd that in the U.S a candidate must lie if they are an atheist because so many of the public vote by their religious conviction, not by ability. Belief or non-belief has no bearing on performance as a leader. In Australia, we have an atheist Prime Minister and a devout opposition leader. Neither are worthy of the top job based on their performance, they are just the chumps the political parties put up as their candidates.

Anonymous said...

Mike, you are being obtuse. Re-read the article (and once again!). You've misread Hitchens on almost every occasion since 2002 it seems; we've noticed and are now wondering-- is it on purpose? Or are you truly that stupid? Hitchens is very very (very) much against Perry-- and offered neither an "endorsement" nor anything as anodyne as "faint praise". Jesus.

Do you even have a job or relationships (with people)? How do you manage to get shit so goddamn wrong all the time and not end up fired, abandoned, and/or in jail? Seriously.

I've never seen anything like it....

Anonymous said...

It seems that Hitchens is suggesting that Perry is likely to win, but because his beliefs are both genuine and easily sacrificed (a strange combination if it's true), he is the worst of the bunch.

I would gather that "lower the tone nicely," is meant out of pure sarcasm.

Anonymous said...

Don't believe for a second that he truly believes. He had that prayer meeting conviniently before running as a rep. candidate. It's very calculated and the ultimate fools are those who support this man, who looks a bit like Reagan, talks like Bush and thinks like Palin/Bachmann.


I really don't understand the point here because you're all debating about whether or not someone believes in something which would be and has been harmful. Its kind of like saying "I'll bet Rick Perry just PRETENDS to like eating puppies to get votes". The real question isn't does he believe or not the question is why would professing such things garner popularity in a country that ought to cherish freedom as opposed to religion, its natural antecedent? One could hardly claim the clairvoyance to know if people are evil or if they just pretend to be. I'm not criticizing dawson's political position, but he certainly couldn't claim to know which way would be better for the United States.

Who cares what excuse is used to take our freedoms away? Who cares if the people doing it think its right? They're willing to do it and that's enough for me, thank you. I don't really care if the enemies of democracy and prosperity are having a crisis of conscience. And I don't care if they're perpetuating a lie or if they actually believe in it. Both are evil because they come to the same thing. Did Hitler really believe jews were evil? Was it just a ploy for destruction and ruthless domination? If he didn't believe would it have been better if he did? If he did believe would it have been better if he didn't? Hitler certainly professed the christian faith a good deal. Did he really believe? Does it matter? I don't think so, quite frankly.

frankie allen said...

As a Brit I find the whole American Christian politician creepy and insincere.That doesnt mean there arent some who genuinely have faith but you can tell its pure political expediency when they have prayer meetings in front of the worlds media.Of course atheists hate anything to do with faith its what keeps them frothing at the mouth so much.With so many things going on in the world you'd think that atheists like Hitchens Dawkins Dennet etc would find better things to do with their time than enter into debates with those who as Dawkins would suggest that believing in God is like having a belief in the spaghetti flying monster and unicorns.And even when they do debate Christian Theists like William Lane Craig and Dr John Lennox the frothing at the mouth only increases when they find they have lost the debate, With the exception of Dawkins who seems to only debate Bishops priests and evangelicals I wonder why.

william lane craig went to what was supposed to be a debate with reason, structure and discipline, and proceeded to tell everyone that Christopher was an arrogant fool for not accepting the self evident premise that a hippie son of a farmer came back from the dead 2000 years ago to make sure that I wouldn't watch porn today. How can you reject Iraq and think that Craig's worldview is a sensible premise? Who's committing the sin of pride here?

Many times atheists of all stripes have conversations (a cynic might term them pseudo-debates) with those of, shall we say, a more moderate religious persuasion; Julia Neuberger, Nigel Spivey, Barry Brummett and the like. The manifesto of these progressives (which Neil Degrasse Tyson might have termed "Catechism for the God of the gaps") tends to argue that whatever repressive, hurtful, and barbarously ignorant things any given religion might teach and/or do has to be taken in stride because sometimes, somewhere in the world, some people are doing nice things which would be just as wonderful and positive if they had been done without faith; that is to say, good deeds which could be performed just as effectively without the stupid religion. And this helps their case? Er, what? The "moderate" theist/whatever proves the atheists' point by begging the question "couldn't they do those things just to be nice without the faith"? The simple answer is...YES!!!

How interesting to portentously announce that Dawkins only debates ideological retards. Even if that were true, which it isn't, that's what poisons the discourse for you? All the ridiculous claims about history and science just weren't as offensive? More on that later.

I remember once when Dawkins was asked a question during an intelligence squared debate which alluded to frankie's point. When asked specifically why he wouldn't debate William Lane Craig (I don't know whether he has or hasn't in the time which has elapsed since), Dawkins made what I thought was a very good point, observing that people who are actually prepared to speak for these institutions which perpetuate the things he stands against will be his main "combatants" if you will (obviously Im paraphrasing here).

People like Craig, for all the letters after their name and all that they know about German judeo-christian mysticism and modern day Chopra-esque non-science, cannot and do not represent religion as a whole and they don't even try. They just do the work of the church for them acting as though their sectarian bias and loyalty (which they don't even mask) allows them to make claims the other side could never get away with; when in fact its they who have the explaining to do. You're never called upon to prove a negative. First rule of logic, remember? Craig and his like aren't even honest religious representatives (if such a thing could be said to exist outside the realm of the purely oxymoronic). They are professional debaters who think they can put supernatural beliefs on rational footing. Craig is more rational than the evangelicals? This is not a good sign for your mental health. And shows you don't know very much. Craig is a fundamentalist. Anybody who does a video with David A. Noebel and the mormons for the john birch society is a fucking fundamentalist. Thank you.

Now this next portion ties in with something I was discussing earlier. Craig and his courageous redefinition of the non-sequitur doesn't bother you nearly as much as atheist arrogance. Your mentality here is easily enough explained when one looks at the comment concerning religion at the very beginning of your post. Your dislike is of course reserved for American evangelical christianity. Much more torture, inhumanity, repression of knowledge, repression of sexuality, repression of self has taken place in other countries or at other times and was led by religious people who were not evangelicals. This isn't a fact you really wanna deal with, is it? Some of the worst religious cruelty the world has ever seen is taking place as we speak right now and a very large part of it, dare one even say most of it, is not committed at the hands of evangelicals. Much of it in fact, takes place in a tiny little country named England.

While the grand "aesthete" frankie allen pontificates on the essential tackiness of American right wing christianity, underage girls are mutilated in the streets of his native country to glorify the deity of their parents and compulsory husbands-to-be. Meanwhile, archbishop Rowan Williams could perhaps follow the model of a courageous religious leader (william lloyd garrison, john brown) but instead chooses to accept a rather childish scolding from a priest who "challenges" the horribly overzealous williams (I cant even say that with a straight face, lol!) for daring to say that a religion which functions as a pedophile racket might've lost all credibility; with particular reference to its irish sect. It's about the only thing the bishop has ever gotten right.

In suitably pompous and servile fashion, the good archbishop of canterbury apologized not long after (and the jellyfish of the year award goes to you, your fucking grace!!). After all, dear Rowan shouldn't be wasting his time picking on those poor catholic pedophiles. He's got more important things to do. For instance, pushing for lenient sentences on female circumcisers, expressing sympathy for sharia law and of course letting the populist-obsessed mass culture worshiping brits know how "hip" he is to blacks and gays. Yeah, that should put everything right.

This is another thing I'm sick and tired of. British television is just as stupid and vacuous as American tv but at the same time ridiculously censored and restrained. British television is like 5th graders trying to be dirty and they don't even know what they're doing. In America we have these things of course, in varying forms. Reality shows of all kinds, mr. fix-it reality shows, car repossession shows, pop diva shows, empty lame kids shows, dumb comedy shows, and plenty of boring ass brain dead little bunny fru fru crap. But guess what? You also don't have a nanny telling you want porn you can or can't watch, or how violent the moving your watching can or can't be. What contemptible hypocrisy. "Hello, England here. We're going to be a trash culture, ruin humanity, literature and everything, but we'll make sure you're mindless trash in the way we want you to be. We'll decide what trash is acceptable for you. Believe me, it won't be any of the fun stuff. Yeah, that's for those brain dead mcdonalds eating war mongering americans" (are we seeing the irony, yet?). "It's the English way".

With all this crass bullshit in your own society, coupled with a contradictory hypocritical English-granny obsession with keeping the "dark magic" out of people's hands, doesn't american evangelism take a back seat? Your bizzare amoral blend of trash culture hypocritically shaking hands with religious purity seems as bad or far worse than our blend. And if you hate crass, idiotic religion, quit making excuses for it when it commits genocide.

Oh, wait, it was all us crass americans; with our porn and mcdonalds evangelism all over again, wasn't it? Get your priorities straight. And if your so fed up with American religion, why don't you quit complaining about it to a deist like me? Why don't you quit complaining about us and do something to dig your own sad little country out of the religious shit hole that it's dug for itself? Bad form, old boy. Bad form. :)


Christopher reads from Hitch-22: A Memoir