« Evangelicals Left Off 9/11 Memorial Events | Main | State Dept. Chides Eight Countries on Religious Freedom »

September 7, 2011

Perry Addresses HPV Vaccine, Death Penalty at Debate

Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry squared off over their jobs records at the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night. The two frontrunners for the nomination took center stage at the GOP debate that kept most of its focus on economy.

The debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California was also Perry’s debate debut. Perry, who announced his candidacy last month, has edged ahead of Romney this week in nationwide polls. Most questions at the debate, even though posed to the other six candidates, focused on Romney’s and Perry’s positions.

Perry reaffirmed previous statements he’s made on the campaign trail regarding climate change, capital punishment and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Although Perry said last month that his decision to issue an executive order mandating a vaccine against the sexually transmitted HPV was a “mistake,” at the debate he stood by his reasons for the decision. “At the end of the day, I will always err on the side of saving lives,” Perry said, adding that he “probably” should have let the Texas state government legislate the decision rather than ordering it as governor.

Perry said he felt like "a pinata at the party" after receiving criticism for his decision from Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann.

When asked about Texas’ death penalty, referring to the 234 executions during Perry’s three terms as governor of the state, Perry paused for applause from the audience. "I think Americans understand justice," Perry said. “In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you're involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is, you will be executed."

Perry, a strong believer in states’ rights to legislate most laws on a state-by-state basis, said other states did not have to implement a death penalty. He defended Texas’ “thoughtful” process which he said he trusted prevented the justice system from sentencing anyone innocent.”I’ve never struggled with [sleeping at night] at all,” he said in response to the question posed to him.

Perry also made headlines last month when he indicated he has doubts that climate change is partially manmade. “The science is not settled,” Perry said. "As I recall, Galileo got out-voted for a spell.”

Romney, who gave a speech laying out his plan to create jobs growth earlier this week, pushed back on Perry’s ability to take credit for job creation and a lower unemployment rate in Texas.

Romney also criticized Perry for suggesting that Social Security is a flawed institution, or as Perry put it, “a Ponzi scheme” that steals from young Americans without giving much back. Romney said a Republican candidate needs to be committed to “saving” Social Security, not abolishing it. Herman Cain addressed the federal tax rate, saying, “If 10% is good enough for God, it ought to be good enough for the federal government."

President Obama will deliver a speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening, where he plans to suggest both tax cuts and federal spending programs that will stimulate job growth. Economic issues have so far overshadowed much of the primary debate questions, with the August jobs report indicating that no new jobs have been created in the past month and the nation still faces a 9.1 percent unemployment rating.

Comments

Perry's statements on executing people should be an embarrassment for all Christians. Perry should remove his membership from the United Methodist Church in Texas.

Do a search on Perry and death penalty. It is sickening. There have been several people that were probably wrongly executed because of Perry. The applause at the debate for Perry's death penalty was also sickening

Perry stated that he never struggled with the possibility of executing an innocent person. And the audience cheered the record number of executions.

Even if you are a Christian who favors the death penalty, you should find both of those behaviors appalling and unacceptable. The first is an indicator of sociopathic tendenceis, and the second is a sign of taking pleasure in someone else's death. Both are utterly sinful.

For shame.

Google the name Willingham. He was executed in Texas under Perry's watch even though there was compelling evidence that he was innocent. An appeal was sent to Perry, not for clemency, but only for a little more time (30 days I believe) to have the new evidence presented and reviewed. Perry denied the appeal and Willingham was executed before the evidence could ever be officially considered and weighed in his case.

Anyone who doesn't struggle with a case like that has something seriously wrong with them.

Irregardless, if the death penalty is really not an option, lets quit kidding ourselves that it is and get it off the books. Believe that when the Scriptures tell us to pray for the release of the prisoners, it is referring to those who are innocent. Lets pray more for those who like Willingham may be innocent.

Happy to see reasonable Christians (evangelical or not) acknowledging Perry's non-Christian attitude. For me, the defining moment of the debate happened during a commercial break, captured in this photo:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/08/rick-perry-ron-paul_n_954440.html

I would love to know what was said in that exchange. In that particular photo, we see Perry going all-but-bully on a reserved Ron Paul. Paul's bodyguard is in the photo as well, with his hand on the podium, almost ready to step in since Perry grabbed Paul's arm.

In other photos, you can see Huntsman standing between Perry and Paul, as though he might need to mediate whatever the discussion was.

Newsflash: if you're looking for a candidate that promote's Jesus' ideals without turning government into an idolatrous theocracy, Rick Perry is about the worst you could get of the bunch (except, maybe, Bachmann... but even then, yeah, I'd trust Bachmann over Perry if only by a little).

Example of the UMC's actions against the death penalty that included a letter to Perry:

Church's death penalty stance singles out Texas

http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=5245715&ct=5439839

Rick Halperin, Director, Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University, had this response:

"The fact that in 2011, Americans, or any audience in a civilized country, would give prolonged and loud applause at the fact that our governor has presided over 234 executions in one state -- more than any other governor in the history of a state -- is a disturbing and disgraceful commentary on America's unwillingness and inability to move beyond embracing violence as a cure for social problems. Inherent flaws in this state under Gov. Perry's tenure are well documented, and questions need to arise about executing those subject to racial prejudice, innocence and mental health issues. It's disturbing to hear Gov. Perry say he's never struggled with any case when so many questions continually arise regarding implementing the death penalty in this state under his tenure. It is well documented that the capital punishment institution in Texas is inherently flawed and mistakes have indeed been made in wrongly convicting, incarcerating and executing the innocent."

http://deathpenaltyblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/09/rick-perrys-big-applause-momen.html

I cannot fathoms how Christians can support the death penalty. I think the same about Christians that accept Bachmann's many outrageous lies documented at PolitiFact.com and Factcheck.

It has surprised me for quite some time the silence that has dominated the religious community when it comes to criticizing any and all things republican. My impression is that the religious right is much more about being on the right side of power and money than the truly religious side of anything political. This quite criticism of Rick Perry over executions in Texas is the first sign I have seen that may give you a legitimate claim as a “right to life” movement and not just an anti-abortion political bludgeon to beat pro-choice democrats with.
Another hugely republican direction toward Ayn Rand’s Utopia where selfishness is a virtue seems to go largely unnoticed by established churches though. It gets hardly a mention from Roman Catholics, Evangelicals or even Mormons . It is completely and utterly counter to Christ’s message of love, totally unjustifiable even beyond her humancentric belief and rejection of superstitions like a God. Yet there is no public outcry from the religious community about the direction the republicans are headed. And religious communities of all stripes sit back and are silent. But then this is a community that as far back as I can remember is more about wealth and power than anything else. The same religious community that chose a divorced agnostic over a church deacon and one of the most religious presidents in history needs to wake up and get back to the true meaning of the words of Christ.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists have been exploited by plutocrats at least since 1977, when Jerry Falwell formed the "Moral Majority" (which was neither moral nor a majority) at the behest of Republican organizer Paul Weyrich. A "Christian Nation" is an oxymoron.