Let's start with an agreement at the outset that there shoudl be no religious test for office. That what someone believes, regardless of whether it is wacky or cultish or outside the pale or even if we agree with it, ought to, if you believe in the constitution, be no part of a decision of whether to elect one person or another. We can all agree, there, at least idealistically, right?
In the real world, though, politicians know that people have biases for or against religions. Baptists think that Catholics are not christian. Others believe that Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses are not christian. Others think that Pentacostalists are outside the norm. People make judgements like this all the time. If you're a member of one of the religions that others consider a cult, you probably don't agree. That doesn't mean that voters cannot look at who politicans choose to associate with and decide if those associations meet their own values. Again, SHOULD they do it when there's no religious test? No. But we're all human.
Governor Rick Perry choose, in the role of his political office to initiate a prayer event for ONE religion. Even that one religion didn't include others under the same umbrella. He did this by
Declaring August 6th a statewide day of prayer, as Governor
Creating a video inviting people to The Response, which he initiated, as Governor
Doing a mail out inviting people to The Response, with his title as Governor
Robocalling people in the Houston area to invite them to the Response, as Governor.
Had Governor Perry's prayer day been all inclusive in the same vein as, say, Barack Obama's, I think there would hve been little outcry. But his prayer day was only for Christians and organized by a group that some call a hate group and which has some very *different* beliefs. A lot of people criticized Rick Perry for this, not only for a perceived violationi of Separation of Church and State but also because his actions were divisive. A prayer event should have been for ALL Texans, not just one group he purposely chose as Governor.
Does it matter that the event was paid for by private entities? No, because establishment of religion does not require that public funds be used. I believe had this had an airing the court , Governor Rick Perry would have been proven to be wrong.
Back to the cults. The Response people, once they realized a big spotlight was going to be aimed at them for their involvement with some fringe people, made sure that the event was scripted and controlled in order to avoid any potentially embarrassing outbursts from, say, the man who believes that the Statue of Liberty is demonic or the man who thinks there is evil at the base of Mount Everest that caused the death of Princess Diana. The information about these people is in background, that is, they weren't shouting at the top of their lungs and falling on the floor at The Response. Should then, that not be brought up since Rick Perry chose to associate with these people?
The audio/video or Jeremiah Wright speaking out in his church was also on background. No reporter was there the day Wright spoke his God Damn America but the information was disclosed. Unlike Rick Perry who was definitely there during The Response days, there's no evidence that Barack Obama was in church that day. My point is that IF one is going to look at the pastors that a given candidate associates with, the same yardstick needs to be used for all, inclduing Rick perry.
The question also isn't whether you or I perceive a given group as cults. You may think that Pat Robertson calling natural disasters God's retribution for evil is perfectly sane and wonder why Rick Perry's drought is not also similarly called out. You may think, as The Response people did, that Methodists are evil, I don't. Point is that there's no one person that can establish what a cult is; I certainly thought the chanting over and over at The Response was cult-like, you may do that in your church. But Governor Rick Perry chose to have THESE particular people at HIS event.
Therefore, those people deserve the same scrutiny that corporate media gave Jeremiah Wright, playing his comments oer and over again in a loop 24x7 so that people can decide for themselves whether Governor Rick perry, who twice talked about secession from teh United States, and his association with people who believe that Tsunami was caused by sex with the sun god, is a point for him to be elected.
More-in case you have no idea what I'm talking about Talk2action part 1 the New Apostolic Reformation
Imagine if Gov. Rick Perry's prayer rally had been an all-day procession of Roman Catholic priests, or perhaps pastors from the Southern Baptist Convention. The sectarianism would have been obvious. It wasn't, at least to most people, because Americans are not familiar with the New Apostolic Reformation. Leaders of several "family values" organizations gave their blessings to the affair, but were also anxious to deny the sectarian nature of the event, even calling it a "generic call to prayer." Jim Garlow, who has worked closely with the NAR apostles for years, claimed he's "not familiar with the term New Apostolic Reformation," reported Sarah Posner in her coverage of the event. Why refuse to acknowledge a label well known to the movement? Or was Garlow trying to deny there is a movement?
and NPR's Fresh Air
Here's the direct link to NPR
"Dominionism is simply that Christians of this belief system must take control over the various institutions of society and government. Some things that make this group unique is that they have some unusual concepts of what they call spiritual warfare that have not been seen before in other groups. Spiritual warfare is a common term in evangelicalism and in Christianity, but they have some unique approaches and some unique spins on this that distinguish them from other groups."