November 7, 2006
Perry's November Surprise
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is leading somewhere around 14 percent in the polls for his re-election campaign. Might he need all 14 points? Or will he actually get a boost with yesterday's Dallas Morning News front-page story, "Perry believes non-Christians doomed"?
Summary and commentary after the jump...
Brief summary: Perry went to John Hagee's church Sunday, and Perry preached a sermon that included the sentence, "If you live your life and don't confess your sins to God almighty through the authority of Christ and his blood, I'm going to say this very plainly, you're going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket." Reporters asked if he disagreed with the sermon. Perry said no. Later, pressed further on the issue, Perry said:
I don't know that there's any human being that has the ability to interpret what God and his final decision-making is going to be. That's what the faith says. I understand, and my caveat there is that an all-knowing God certainly transcends my personal ability to make that judgment black and white. ... Before we get into Buddha and all the others, I get a little confused there. But the fact is that we live in a pluralistic world but our faith is real personal. And my Christian faith teaches that the way is through Jesus Christ.
I don't see the word doomed in Perry's response, actually.
One of Perry's opponents, Kinky Friedman, responded, "He doesn't think very differently from the Taliban, does he? Being obsessed with who's going to heaven and who's going to hell is kind of a pathetic waste of time."
There's been some changes with the Taliban lately, but last I checked, the Taliban disagreed on a few points made by both Hagee and Perry. Specifically: all of them.
The News apparently disagrees that the question is a pathetic waste of time, and asked every candidate whether Perry was wrong not to condemn Hagee about his comments on hell:
Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who attended Sunday services at Harmony Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said she disagreed with Mr. Perry. "There are many ways to heaven. We're all sinners, and we're all God's children," she said. "God's a uniter." Democrat Chris Bell said that a state leader should take more caution. "God is the only one who can make the decision as to who gets into the kingdom of heaven," he said. Mr. Bell declined to say whether he agrees that only followers of Jesus can go to heaven. "I'm a Christian," he said. "Rick Perry certainly is entitled to his beliefs, but when you're in public office, you need to respect people of all faiths and denominations." Asked whether Mr. Perry was wrong, Mr. Bell said: "The voters will have to decide that."
Texas is the only state where residents get to vote on who goes to hell.