You may have heard the blowback by now from Rick Perry's latest presidential message, titled Strong. It starts like this:
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.
This is what Jesus had to say:
Anyone who knows the conservative mind-set shouldn't have been too surprised by the message delivered, which clearly intended to elicit a strong reaction with its jaw-dropping argument. As Time magazine's Amy Sullivan best explains it:
It takes an unusual perspective to see the modern Republican Party as an institution that penalizes politicians for being religious. Just as it takes an unusual perspective to view the United States as a country in which members of the majority faith are consistently persecuted and denied rights. Perry may embody the sense of victimhood shared by many social conservatives, but he also knows that appealing to it may represent his only chance of staying alive in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. So he is striding guns blazing into the culture wars, with a message that Interfaith Alliance president C. Welton Gaddy calls "a new low...in the manipulation of religion for partisan political advantage."
The opinion that Perry's words were meant for an audience he's trying to appeal to are also shared by Paul Schied of the Harvard Political Review.
Did you not think Rick Perry believed these things? Really, if we're going to be honest, this is hardly even gay-bashing by this Republican primary's standards. Rick Santorum, probably the only person in the race who actually cares about social issues, routinely blames the breakdown of the American family -- and by association the growing acceptance of homosexuals -- for the country's precarious economic position. [...] To be honest, I'm not even willing to call the ad a political mistake yet. What was the underlying message of the ad? That Christians are scorned by our secular society, and that Perry is willing to stand up despite that. The blowback over the ad supports that thesis better than any comprehensive analysis of American society ever could. The ad has people talking about Perry and not just about the Mitt v. Newt battle. I guarantee you it has evangelicals thinking that Perry is the candidate that most deserves their donation.
Here's another great parody: