I have to wholeheartedly disagree with Maggie Gallagher’s ‘D’ rating for Rick Perry on religious liberty. I should point out that Governor Perry took to Twitter to clearly and strongly defend Indiana Governor Pence and the state’s religious freedom law.
But, most importantly, he has a history of speaking passionately and eloquently on the subject that isn’t just limited to the past couple of days, and making assumptions about his views based on a single statement is a extremely unfair to him and only helps to distort his record. Below are some quotes of Rick Perry engaging on nearly every aspect of religious liberty.
On the concept that public displays of religion need to be regulated:
Their view is that if one citizen believes there is no God, they must be protected from public references to an Almighty Creator. In an effort to protect a minority view, they go so far as to maintain the position that an atheist, or a non-Christian, cannot be exposed to the majority of religious viewpoints in America without unduly being indoctrinated. What about believing enough in your fellow men and woman to acknowledge that maybe they can think for themselves?
–On My Honor (2008), p. 87
On judicial overreach:
Consider that it is our courts that routinely decide, with little or no chance of further appeal, how and where we may and may not pray to God, when life begins, whether contraception must be allowed to be sold, whether and how we can celebrate religious holidays, what those other than man and woman must be allowed to marry, what level of discrimination may carried out (in the name of ending discrimination), whether a state must allow women to attend an all-male military academy, who may be executed and whether we may execute criminals at all, and generally any issue involving social preference, morality, and our collective concept of right and wrong.
–Fed Up (2010), p. 96
And on protecting faith based organizations (in this case, the Boy Scouts):
I do not advocate state-sponsored morality in the most general sense, but I do argue for the protection of organizations and entities whose influence on American values have been profoundly positive. And I do argue that we continue to make the case to our fellow citizens about the virtue of making right choices, while recognizing in a free society people must ultimately have the prerogative to make wrong choices.
On My Honor, p. 175
In short, as Governor Perry said in 2013 while signing a bill allowing religious displays at schools: “Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion.” This is a view Perry has held to throughout his entire career, and judging his motives based on a single statement does him an incredible disservice.
Alfonso Aguilar is the executive director of American Principles in Action’s Latino Partnership.