Cross-posted at Firedoglake.com and ThomHartmann.com
Rick Perry. Oh My G-d.
I’m a Texan, and I had the misfortune to watch part of Perry’s loudly-publicized “The Response” prayerapalooza a few weeks back. You can see archives of it here (You have to go to Part 2 to see Perry).
The ostentatious praying and public piety. The exaggerated ritualism. The loud caterwauling of his followers–and it struck me: I’m watching a Pharisee.
And that reminded me of some writings in a book he’s apparently never read: The Christian Scriptures (“New Testament”).
Like this one, from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” as recorded in Matthew 6:1-8:
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Of course, Perry doesn’t have to worry about whether his giving of alms is too public, since he gives only about 1/2% of his income for charitable causes:
“Between 2000 and 2009, he has earned $2.68 million, according to the Houston Chronicle. That’s a lot of means and opportunity to give back to all those who have lost their jobs, suffered through a harrowing addiction or endured a housing foreclosure.
And Texas has plenty of people in need, whether it’s the chronically unemployed in the Rio Grande Valley or the men and women huddled in Austin’s crowded shelters. Yet Perry’s money hasn’t answered many prayers. A review of his tax records from the mid-1990s through 2009 show the governor has contributed very little to charity. When he has, Perry has given mainly to charities connected to his family, and even then, his donations have sometimes been slight. An analysis by the San Antonio Express-News in mid-June reported that of his $2.68 million, Perry ‘gave half a percent to churches and religious organizations, or $14,243.'”
The Express-News goes on to note: “By comparison, Americans averaged gifts of nearly 1.2 percent of their incomes to churches and religious groups from 2004 to 2008, according to Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based research firm specializing in U.S.-church giving trends.”