Cal  Thomas

Texas Republican governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry will headline a "Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis" on Aug. 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

The ACLU of Texas and liberals are predictably upset.

Liberals aren't against prayer, so long as it advances a secular earthly agenda. While wringing their hands and even threatening legal action against the Aug. 6 gathering (the prohibition of which would violate the freedom of assembly, as well as the free exercise of religion clauses of the First Amendment), the ACLU of Texas and its fellow ideological travelers have said nothing about another prayer meeting that took place last week in the White House.

Here is how Jim Wallis of the liberal Christian magazine "Sojourners" described that meeting on his website: "I, along with 11 other national faith leaders, met with President Obama and senior White House staff for 40 minutes. We were representing the Circle of Protection, which formed in a commitment to defend the poor in the budget debates. Sitting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, we opened in prayer, grasping hands across the table, and read scripture together. We reminded ourselves that people of faith must evaluate big decisions on issues like a budget by how they impact the most vulnerable."

Wallis says President Obama mentioned a passage from Matthew 25 where Jesus is talking about "inasmuch as you've done it unto the least of these, you've done it also unto me." There is no indication that Jesus commanded government to be the primary caregiver for the poor. His commission was for those who followed Him to do it, because His objective was not only to fill empty stomachs, but also to fill empty souls. The debate about the role of government vs. the role of the church has long been a tension point between conservatives and liberals in religious circles.

If this had been a prayer meeting hosted by conservative evangelical leaders with President George W. Bush in attendance and the prayers were about conservative social policies, one can safely predict how liberals would have reacted. But since this was about maintaining government spending for social programs favored by liberals, these prayers were no problem for them.

Who are the poor? Are they a perpetual underclass that never changes? Are they worse off, or better off than they were in the '60s when the "War on Poverty" began, a war that has lasted longer than the one in Afghanistan, which is often described as America's "longest war"? A new report on poverty by The Heritage Foundation has some revealing facts.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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