Wolf Blitzer of CNN confronted Texas Governor Rick Perry today about his latest commercial called "Strong." In the ad, the faltering Presidential candidate puts down American soldiers who are gay. He begins the commercial by boasting that he is a Christian, and then says:
"You don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that 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."
When Blitzer asked the sinking candidate what he meant by "Obama's war on religion," Perry replied:
"When you talk to the bishops of the Catholic church, there is clearly an agenda by this administration to go after those Catholic Charities that are offering healthcare, doing work or -- uh, trafficking of individuals.... The administration is clearly sending messages to people of faith, and organizations of faith, that 'We're not going to support you with Federal dollars.' I mean that's one the examples right there. So, I'm very comfortable with that ad.... My Christian upbringing will affect my governing.
"I ask people, 'Which one of the Ten Commandments do you not like?' I mean, why aren't our children allowed to pray in school? Why can they not celebrate Christmas? Those are, I think, traditional and solid American values that we're seeing trampled upon by this Administration."
When asked if "separation of Church and State" meant anything to him, Perry said:
"Sure, but it means we're supposed to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.... We've got a Federal judge, for instance that these kids couldn't say invocation in school. I mean, they say you can't even use the word 'invocation' at their commencement."
Blitzer asked, "Is that President Obama's war on religion?" Perry stumbled and said:
"I'm just giving you some examples, of, of what we're seeing from the left. Of which, I would suggest to you President Obama is a member of the left, and substantial left-of-center beliefs, that you can't even have a Christmas party. You can't say a prayer in school --."
"I'm saying his Administration and the people he's associated with. When you see the Catholic bishops, with their great concern about this administration, then I think that is a war on religious traditions in this country."
Blitzer asked if Perry had a problem with the fact that Catholic organizations become ineligible for Federal funding because they discriminate against gay people, he confused his private and public arguments with:
"I think that's their choice. I mean it's like the Boy Scouts. The idea that the Boy Scouts spend millions of dollars defending themselves from the ACLU who have sued them because they will not allow openly gay scout masters is -- they're a private organization. This is a church.... Well, sure [gay people have human rights]. but the issue is this: A private organization has the right to decide who their going to associate with."
Asked if one of those private religious organization should received Federal tax dollars, Perry responded:
"If those dollars are being used in an appropriate way. But the Catholic Church is basically being discriminated against because of their anti-choice, if you will, their pro-life position on the issue of abortion. That's what that issue is being addressed from."
Asked if he would reinstate the discriminatory military policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Perry said he would:
"Absolutely, I think Don't Ask, Don't Tell worked fine.... And this President, to use the military --. And he's used the military twice, Wolf. Once with this issue, to --. And, and both times I think to -- um, get support from his base. But particularly on the gays in the military issue. He made the decision that he was going to respond to his base by pushing through, and pushing through Congress when he had the votes, to allow individuals to openly serve as members of the military. I didn't agree with that. We got two wars going on. The unit cohesiveness -- the, the, the problems that those can cause. Those are real."
The CNN host informed Perry that military commanders, including the Marine Corps Commandant, have told him recently that there has been no problem in the months since that anti-gay policy was repealed. Perry refused to agree with Blitzer on that aspect which has been widely reported:
"Well, I'm just telling you, the members of the military that I talked to when this was being talked about -- I didn't talk to anybody who was for it."
Blitzer concluded that part of his discussion with Rick Perry by saying all of the NATO allies, along with Israel, allow gays to serve in their militaries, and that they're pretty tough, too. Perry replied that "this is America.... this president wanted to use our military as a poltical tool and he did." Perry than tried to deflect Blitzer by claiming that money being cut from the military budget would lead to "another Pearl Harbor."
Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese of Washington joined forces with Evangelical and African American religious leaders in the District of Columbia to oppose the passage of same-sex marriage. They lost in late 2009. In response, Catholic Charities halted all of its adoption placements -- all six or so. Catholic Charities also stopped offering new and newly married employees spousal benefits, apparently so it would not have to condone relationships between same-sex partners. The Church and it's Charity have behaved similarly in New York, Massachusetts, Maryland and other regions where gay marriage has passed or is being seriously considered.
Looking through Form 990 filings for various Catholic Charities organizations reveals that the majority of its hundreds of millions of dollar already comes from taxpayers through government grants. The heads of Catholic Charites are compensated with significant salaries. (In 2009 DC's Ed Orzechowski reportedly received $282,433+, Maryland's Harold Smith had a stated compensation of $687,450!) The Archdiocese and Catholic Charities, as registered non-profits, are not allowed to endorse or oppose political candidates, so it may be of interest to know exactly what these bishops have said to Perry about Obama and in what capacity.
Perry is correct that the Supreme Court decided 11 years ago that the Boy Scouts of America are a private, religious organization which has the right to bar gay men from membership. But the many legal arguments that have arisen since that time have been over public funding and property being handed over to BSA now that it has been confirmed to be a private religious entity.