Severe Sermon: A Political Pastor's Rant Exposes The Religious Right's True Face
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Mar 21, 2012 at 12:20:46 PM EST
Are you Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or a non-believer? If so, Louisiana preacher Dennis Terry has some advice for you: Accept that America is a "Christian nation" or leave the county. Now. You're not wanted here.

"I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the nay-sayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob - there's only one God. There's only one God, and his name is Jesus," thundered Terry during a Sunday rally for Rick Santorum at Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.

"I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words," he continued. "I'm tired of people telling us as Christians that we can't voice our beliefs or that we can no longer pray in public. Listen to me, if you don't love America, if you don't like the way we do things, I've got one thing to say: GET OUT! We don't worship Buddha, I said we don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammad, we don't worship Allah. We worship God, we worship God's son Jesus Christ."

The New York Times reported that Santorum applauded the March 18 remarks and that at the end of the sermon, Terry "held his hand over Mr. Santorum and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and asked God to `have favor' on him, to `watch over him, bless him and keep him safe.'" (Perkins is a member of the church.)

Santorum was asked by reporters about Terry's comments and did some quick verbal fencing, insisting that he believes "very much in the freedom of religion and folks should be able to worship whoever they want to worship and bring their thoughts in the public square."

Santorum also stated that he wasn't clapping to support those portions of Terry's remarks and even said he "wasn't quite listening" to that passage. (Really? How could you help but listen when Terry was shouting at the top of his lungs?)

For his part, Terry is being defiant. He told The Christian Post that the clip of him fulminating, which is circulating on the web, is somehow being distorted. He stands by his insistence that America is a "Christian nation."

Let's get a few things straight: As a nation, "we" don't worship any god. But individuals are free to worship (or not) as they see fit. Some do indeed worship Jesus Christ. Others worship Allah. Jews worship the God of the Old Testament. Buddhists and Hindus worship according to the tenets of their faith.

All are Americans. All are welcome here. All enjoy equal rights under the Constitution. No one has to "get out" or do one blessed thing to make Pastor Terry happy. As much as he proclaims to love America, Pastor Terry is the one who is behaving in an un-American manner because he doesn't respect or appreciate one of the best things about this nation: freedom of conscience.

As bad as Terry's rant is, in a way it's very helpful. People like Perkins have spent years trying to paste a pleasant and moderate face on the Religious Right. "Values voters" merely want their place at the table, Perkins has argued. They don't want to run anyone else's lives. They're just a bunch of people who love God. What's wrong with that?

We at Americans United have spent years pointing out why that's not the case, and we've labored to expose the extremism and the hardcore religious-political agenda that undergirds the Religious Right.

It can be tough to get that message out. But along comes Pastor Terry, and he rips that mask of moderation right off. All of America can now see the ugliness lying beneath - the same old "my-way-or-the-highway" intolerance that has fueled political fundamentalism for decades. It's the same old insistence by some preacher that his narrow interpretation of the Bible gives him the right to run your life. It's the same old bogus history and twisted interpretation of the Constitution.

Don't like what you see? You don't have to "get out" as Terry suggests. But you can get a little angry. Get a little worked up over the people who dare to pose as patriots while they mock the very values of our Constitution.

But don't stop there. Get to work, too. Work to defend the one thing that keeps people like Terry and all those who think like him from running your life: the wall of separation between church and state.

P.S. Several people have asked if this activity violates federal law, which prohibits tax-exempt charities and houses of worship from endorsing or opposing candidates. It's unclear. Organizers of the event claim they invited all of the candidates but that only Santorum showed up. Also, Terry's sermon, as vile as it was, does not appear to contain an endorsement of Santorum. Americans United is continuing to investigate.

This message is old, but the speakers have rarely been this bold.

I remember reading different versions of it from the 50s and earlier... "America: love it or leave" from groups demanding unconditional support of the government's actions (like supporting war - especially support for the Vietnam war during the 60s).  I've heard it directed at African Americans during the "civil rights era"... "If you don't like it, move back to Africa!".  I've heard it directed at Native Americans "Well, if you don't like the way things are done, why don't you move to Russia?".   And I've heard it directed at non-Christians and liberal Christians (REAL Christians at that), but not with the frequency or intensity of the last few years.

We used to "do" a local monthly street festival called "First Friday" - most of the months during the last couple of years.  There were "Good Christian" groups there aggressively proselytizing, and that sort of sentiment was expressed several times both in little signs and verbally.  I've even seen billboards on the interstates saying "America: Love it or Leave!" in this last year.  It IS increasing in frequency and virulence.

The whole idea of the statement in the past was acceptance of the status quo, but the dominionists have their idea of what the status quo was and they're trying to make it reality.   Plus they think non-Christians (by their definition) are some sort of spiritual "poison" that will turn God against them if they don't cleanse this country.

I'm not surprised at all that a preacher spouted off like that (I've heard the sentiment enough), but with Santorum AND Perkins there... it's admittedly really bold.  That Santorum was there WITH Perkins is also revealing.  The fact that Santorum clapped... well, I've always known he was bad news and that shows just how deep he really is into that stuff.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 10:42:03 AM EST

I have no respect, nor will I ever countenance such arrogant and disgusting intolerance from any governmental official. Yes, Terry can say whatever he wants, but for Santorum to applaud such base and vile fundamentalist nonsense is what angers me. They have no right to demand that anyone follow their rigid and narrow-minded beliefs, and I'll fight against anyone trying to impose those beliefs on us.

Intolerant, self-righteous blowhards like Terry and Perkins are why I am grateful for TTA and other orgs. that battle these fanatics, and bring evidence of their disregard for our constitutional rights.

by trog69 on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 11:48:32 AM EST

Isn't Allah described as being one and the same deity as God or Jehovah? I get that this pastor might not grasp such subtleties, but to anyone with a passing knowledge of the big religions of the world, this has got to sound nuttier than Glenn Beck eating a fruitcake in a pistachio factory.  

by Hirador on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 08:48:10 PM EST
Is the One God we all worship, but I can see the author might want to make sure not to make the 3 religions "homogenized" or minimize their individuality and unique views of God, however named or unnamed.

by arachne646 on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 02:34:00 AM EST

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