During a conference call with evangelical Christians earlier this week, one-time Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry told listeners that separation of church and state isn’t just a bad idea — it’s an idea that we can blame on Satan:
This separation of church and state, which has been driven by the secularists to remove those people of faith from the public arena… there is nothing farther from the truth. When you think about our Founding Fathers, they created this country, our Constitution, the foundation of America upon Judeo-Christian values, biblical values and this narrative that has been going on, particularly since the ’60s, that somehow or another there’s this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face.
We have a biblical responsibility to be involved in the public arena proclaiming God’s truth. You know, are we going to get up and say ‘you are going to vote for X’? No, but we’re going to talk about Christian values. When you think about the issue of life and protecting life, it’s so important that we as Christians put legislation into place, that we elect men and women that defend life. The idea that we should be sent to the sidelines I would suggest to you is very driven by those who are not truthful, Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what have you and one of the untruths out there is driven — is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena.
There are two major problems with that statement. One, Satan isn’t real. Two, people of faith have always been welcome to participate in the public arena. What they can’t do is legislate their religious beliefs; when the Constitution and the Bible are in conflict, the Constitution must win. If you can’t handle that, then you belong in a church and not public office.