Mr. Hitchens, in his Slate article “Rick Perry’s God,” is correct in saying that it is believers who should question Rick Perry’s religious statements, and I am surprised that they do not. I also understand and agree that Perry is only doing the prudent thing in getting himself elected by appealing to religion. It sickens me, but it is what he must do to appeal to those on his side of the political stripper pole.
Of course this appropriation of religion -- MY RELIGION --, is one of the main reasons why I do not support Perry or any other candidate of his ilk. They use the language of religion to manipulate an easier and easier to dupe mass of constituents. I do not know if Rick Perry actually believes what he is saying. Concerning the salvation of his soul, it might matter. Concerning the running of the country, it does not. Perry’s track record is the antithesis of practical, practicing Christianity. It seems that many American Christians honestly think that proving one is a Christian consists in the public use of certain words or membership in a particular party. Those believers are deceived, not only by the rhetoric machine, but by Satan. (I’ll leave it to theologians to decipher the difference, if one exists.)
What I take issue with is Hitchens’ typical bombastic name calling which is supposed to be argument. For example, in noting that Perry believes that “those who did not accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior would be going to hell,” Hitchens called the assertion “sheer wickedness and stupidity.” Many atheists have dismissed all claims from religious people (even those having nothing to do with religion) based on the idea that if one is religious, then one is “stupid;” therefore, no other ideas should be considered seriously from that person. But Hitchens goes so far as to say that the religious person is “wicked.”
Many people remind me of how smart Mr. Hitchens is. I don’t doubt it. But his logic in this case is worthy of, well, a politician.
While addressing what would have been one logical fallacy – the post hoc connection between Perry’s public prayers and precipitation in Texas (or a lack thereof) -- Hitchens resorts to another: ad hominem. He then doesn’t have work very hard to convince his audience that any religious person running for office is crazy and should be ignored. That reasoning works only for those who share his puny view of humanity.
Sadly, Mr. Hitchens argues well, in the same article, that Perry is sanest of the religious candidates on the right. That he might be right about this should scare the hell out of us.
But he is wrong about faith, and real people of faith.