In two very different parts of the country, the use of religion was invoked to help guide Americans back to the true American way. In Texas, Rick Perry's Day of Prayer had 30,000 people come to a football stadium creating a national stage for his political maneuvering as a GOP candidate. In Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter Took to the Pulpit to reprimand black youths for senseless mob violence against law abiding Center City residents. These two very political moves were planned to use religion as counter forces to social problems and send a message that America needs God to save us from our wayward ways.
The two politicians are from different political parties and are worried about very different issues. Yet they were both willing to use the backdrop of the religious faith to bolster their positions and give credence to their beliefs. Most Americans believe that faith and religion is a private matter that should not impose itself in politics. Politics and Religion are two explosive devices that can cause division and pain in the populace. The separation of Church and state, although often misunderstood based on the Constitution, has been a tenant of acceptance for Americans and a point of pride for over 200 years. Why is it then that politicians retreat back to this tempestuous relationship when they are in trouble and does it do any good for American politics or unity?
Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer was more a political rally for his supporters than a genuine show of solidarity for his state. Always a politician to grandstand, he filled a stadium of his supporters and placed God in his corner. By making it a religious revival, he sends out the message that if you are not with him in his beliefs and his vision of America, then you are not with God. This sophomoric and irresponsible behavior damages the already fractured psyche of America. Rick Perry has the power to reconcile social problems through his position as Governor and by choosing only Christians for his message, he alienates most of Americans who believe that compromise and togetherness will continue to make for success.
Way across the country, Mayor Nutter used the pulpit to lambast teenagers as devils ruining his city. He played the part of a preacher and spoke to the choir as he blamed African American fathers for their failure to provide good example thus creating these flash mobs that has captured the fear of Center City residents. Instead of sticking to City Hall, he used religion to reach the sentiments of the black community and to gain their support for his ideas to curb the violence, which involve stopping all young people and installing a 9 PM curfew. By preaching in a black church, Mayor Nutter made it a morality problem instead of a city problem, and though the rest of the Philadelphia community may perceive it as such, he divided the city on racial lines. Religion and faith have nothing to do with flash mobs or discontented and troubled youths, and involving God and the church was wrong.
These two politicians have plenty of opportunity to express their opinions instead of using religious venues. These two politicians are using religion and faith as means to fixing social problems that have real social reasons for existing. We voted them in to fix things politically and not to guide us religiously. I just hope we can curtail this pattern in American politics before larger divisions separate us for good. And religion has the power to do just that.