The Universal Notebook: A day of GOP prayer and fasting

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As a liberal Democrat and a lifelong member of the progressive United Church of Christ, I welcome Gov. Paul LePage’s declaration of Aug. 6 as a Day of Prayer and Fasting. It’s high time that LePage and his conservative Republican cronies realized that they have a lot to repent for and should well be on their knees begging for forgiveness.

Gov. LePage, we can assume, will be praying and fasting and self-flagellating in repentance for a political agenda that victimizes women, children, minorities, workers and the environment.

The Maine Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, which supports the Day of Prayer, is itself in dire need of forgiveness for the long history of sexual abuse by priests and for treating our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered brothers and sisters as sinners and second-class citizens.

The Day of Prayer and Fasting is the cynical political ploy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the American Family Association. The AFA is considered by some to be a hate group for its virulent attacks on homosexuality, even though the man who led many of those AFA attacks turned out to be an HIV-positive hypocrite who also happened to enjoy the occasional gay orgy.

Make no mistake about it, this is not an ecumenical event. It’s a conservative Christian cabal. “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God” is the first AFA pillar of faith. Leave your Korans and Torahs at home, folks. This is a Bible-believing, God-fearing, Jesus-loving Day of Prayer and Fasting.

In his proclamation, taken directly from Perry, LePage cites the Book of Joel: “Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly.” I’d be willing to bet you a beer at that dive bar in Waterville where the Guv used to hang out that LePage didn’t even know there was a Book of Joel before Slick Rick called it to his attention.

Perry, of course, will be praying hard that a Day of Prayer and Fasting solidifies his conservative Christian base for a GOP presidential primary run. It may well do that, unless the dogged rumors of his own dalliances surface during the primary.

As far as the general election goes, Perry better be praying that American voters don’t focus too much on his record. They might not want a president who famously and unpatriotically advocated Texas secession. And even his Tea Bag base will have a hard time explaining how Perry can complain about out-of-control federal spending while happily accepting $6 billion in federal stimulus money to balance the Texas budget.

Perry and the AFA call their violation of the separation of church and state The Response.

“We believe that America is in a state of crisis,” explains The Response website. “Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on him in our struggles.”

If we are a nation in crisis, it is in part because of self-serving charlatans like Rick Perry.

“I sincerely hope you’ll join me in Houston on August 6th,” Slick Rick writes, “and take your place in Reliant Stadium with praying people asking God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”

No it doesn’t and no we won’t. The hope for America resides in women and men of good will acting with compassion and selflessness for the greater good, something about which Rick Perry and Paul LePage know nothing whatsoever.

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Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Yarmouth. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.

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