During a conference call with evangelicals on Tuesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) called upon "Christian warriors" and "Christian soldiers" to "stand our ground" against President Barack Obama, who he said is trying to "remove any trace of religion from American life," a message inspired by "Satan" himself.
Perry made the comments during a conference call with pastors and evangelicals nationwide, as first cited by Right Wing Watch. He was taking part in an ongoing religious campaign called "40 Days to Save America." Other participants in the calls this week include Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), and even former Jack Abramoff co-conspirator Ralph Reed.
Introducing his guest, pastor Rick Scarborough, one of the "40 Days" organizers, credited the governor's spirituality with ending the Texas drought. (Update: The Texas drought is actually still going on.) But it was Perry himself who did the real preaching.
In audio published to the campaign's website (embedded below), Perry claims that the constitutional provision which guarantees the right to religious freedom actually drives faithful Christians out of the public sphere. "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," he said.
He went on to insist that it is a Christian's duty to "defend life" by electing women who want to restrict women's health services. "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," he continued.
The Texas governor added that there's "spiritual warfare" going on over "President Obama and his cronies in Washington" attempts to "remove any trace of religion from American life." He did not specify how the president, a fellow Christian, was supposedly doing this. Perry also warned that it would be up to "Christian warriors, Christian soldiers" and Americans in general to "stand our ground and firmly send a message to Washington that our nation is about more than just some secular laws."
Though Perry called for a "spiritual" war and not actual violence, suggesting that "warriors" and "soldiers" must "stand our ground" against the president is touchy rhetorical fodder, especially considering the wave of controversy that washed over the country following the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
Martin's killer, George Zimmerman, claims he acted in self defense and initially couched his defense upon a law better known as "stand your ground," although his attorneys have taken a different course since then. The laws became a touchstone due to their racial implications, and studies have found that states with "stand your ground" laws are more likely to accept the killings of blacks by whites as justified.
The Texas governor added that he rejects "the concept that freedom of religion means freedom from religion" and said he wants America to turn back the "growing tide of secularism and atheism," lest secular people resort to "oppression and bullying tactics" to enforce a doctrine of "tolerance and diversity."
The audio below is from "40 Days to Save America," published Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012.
David Edwards contributed to this report.
Updated for clarity.