The Common Good

Rick Perry Must Apologize

See video
is Rick Perry's latest campaign ad.

He needs to take it down. Now.

In case you didn't quite catch it all, here's the text:

"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. As president, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again."

Faith has been central to the lives and motivations of many Americans throughout our history. Faith is still important to many today, including in the life and heart of our sitting president.

Governor Perry and President Obama, like millions of other Americans,  are Christians. Both of them.

How Perry or Obama expresses or articulates his faith may not be the same as mine, or yours or other folks who call themselves followers of Christ.

That doesn’t, however, nullify either man’s faith.

Not all Americans believe the same things or worship in the same way, but that doesn’t mean there is a “war on religion”

In America, we respect and support religious liberty.

The strength of our religious heritage is that we get to worship in different ways and have sincere differences of opinion on public policy without getting thrown in jail or kicked out of the country.

What denigrates our religious heritage is to accuse someone of sincere faith who disagrees with you by perpetuating the myth  of the  “war on religion” and accusing him of being a foot soldier in the battle.

Our Founding Fathers would never have finished the Constitution had they required all of their religious beliefs to be identical.

Diversity of opinion and beliefs is also what makes this country strong.

Across the nation there are Christians who vote Republican, Democrat, Independent and everything in between or on the edges. We should have a vigorous debate about how faith influences public life. But, we need to do that without “attacks” or trying to declare a “war.”

Many of us Christians, and some of us Evangelicals, know the President and his faith commitment. Disagreement around policy is to be expected but attacks on personal faith are patently unacceptable.

Governor Perry should take the ad down, apologize both to President Obama and the American people, ask God for forgiveness and make amends for perpetuating polarization and disharmony in the body of Christ.

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.


Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Related Stories


Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)