Going to War for God

Pope Urban II may have sparked the Crusades by calling European Christians to war against Islam in the Middle Ages. But now, in starkly warlike language, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is calling on Texas pastors to defeat “radical jihadists” who threaten our nation’s “Judeo Christian heritage.” The governor’s disturbing mix of faith and militancy comes in an invitation to conservative evangelical pastors to attend a Texas Restoration Project event in Austin next month:

Both our nation and our Judeo Christian heritage are under attack by a force that is more dangerous than any threat our world has faced in recent memory. I am convinced that our ability to defeat the radical jihadists who threaten our nation will be significantly impacted by the prayers and leadership of America’s evangelical pastors.

. . .While Congress occupies its time trying to legislate defeat in Iraq, we hope you will attend a Pastors’ Policy Briefing that will equip you to walk point in the war of values and ideas. . . .

. . . (W)e must rally godly people and seek God’s provision for the resources, the courage, and the strength necessary to win and, ultimately, glorify Him.

Those of us raised to believe that Christianity is a religion of peace might be forgiven for wondering just what in the world the governor is thinking. You can read all of Gov. Perry’s message at the end of this post.

The Pastors’ Policy Briefing on Oct. 9-10 in Austin will be the group’s eighth since May 2005. Gov. Perry has been the featured speaker at all of them, including one to celebrate his reinauguration as governor in January 2007. In fact, he was the only candidate for governor invited to speak at Restoration Project “briefings” before the 2006 election. Thousands of pastors and their spouses from across the state attended these events free of charge. (You can read more about the Texas Restoration Project in a 2006 report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund. Gays and same-sex marriage were the major Restoration Project demons in 2005 and 2006. Muslims now appear to be the enemy du jour.)

The Niemoller Foundation, a private foundation funded by voucher sugardaddy James Leininger and three other major Perry backers, covered the costs of those events — at least $1.26 million for 2005. Earlier this year, the Texas Freedom Network asked the federal Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Niemoller Foundation violated tax laws by funding partisan political activities. The IRS has not responded to TFN’s request.

“Restoration” and “Renewal” projects in other states are part of a web of organizations seeking to mobilize conservative evangelical pastors in support of far-right candidates and causes across the country. They encourage pastors essentially to turn their houses of worship into campaign tools. During the Republican presidential primaries this year, these groups largely backed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

According to the invitation, Huckabee will be joining Gov. Perry at the Austin event next month. Other speakers will include David Barton, who is the former Texas Republican Party vice chairman and the founder of the Christian advocacy group WallBuilders, and Kelly Shackelford, head of Free Market Foundation, which is Focus on the Family’s Texas affiliate.

Here is Gov. Perry’s full invitation message:

Both our nation and our Judeo Christian heritage are under attack by a force that is more dangerous than any threat our world has faced in recent memory. I am convinced that our ability to defeat the radical jihadists who threaten our nation will be significantly impacted by the prayers and leadership of America’s evangelical pastors.

“Rediscovering God in America” was created to inspire people of faith to engage the culture and bring America back to our worldwide standing as a beacon of hope, a city shining on a hill.

Because God entrusted you to care for and lead His flock, you can play a key role in restoring God to the center of American life, thus strengthening our nation to confront this looming threat.

While Congress occupies its time trying to legislate defeat in Iraq, we hope you will attend a Pastors’ Policy Briefing that will equip you to walk point in the war of values and ideas.

Rediscovering God in America-Austin is intended to remind us that excuses are not the proper strategy when facing evil and confronting enemies. Instead, we must rally godly people and seek God’s provision for the resources, the courage, and the strength necessary to win and, ultimately, glorify Him.

I look forward to seeing you in Austin.

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2 Comments

  1. Mark Kapalski
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Just who are these “radical jihadists” he is referring to , the ones we are fighting overseas already ……or does he intend to open up a “Texas Front”………his comments do not reflect reality.

  2. Cindy
    Posted September 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh My Goodness!!! More of the same old fear mongering……just amazing to see people professing to be Christians
    behaving in such an UN-Christian way!!! They need to be “red letter” pastors….following the red letters in the Bible….you know, Christ’s teachings.

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