GREENWELL SPRINGS, La.—A fire-and-brimstone preacher by the name of Dennis Terry, pastor of the Greenwell Springs Baptist Church, gave a sermon last night before a reported crowd of 1,400 fellow Christians before introducing the evening's main speakers, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and presidential candidate Rick Santorum. In his talk, he let loose with an orgy of accusations against liberal Americans, proclaiming that the nation is and always has been a Christian nation, and listed a number of sins, including sexual perversions, that require the attention of Christians.
But the tirade was more than just a call to the faithful to pull together and unite behind the acceptable Christian candidate, Rick Santorum. It was really an argument for full-blown theocracy in America.
Warming up the audience with a platter of red meat, he told the enthusiastic crowd, "I don't care what the liberals say, I don't care what the naysayers say, this nation was founded as a Christian nation. ... There is only one God and his name is Jesus. I'm tired of people telling me that I can't say those words. Listen to me: If you don't love America, if you don't like the way we do things, I have one thing to say—get out! We don't worship Buddha, we don't worship Mohammed, we don't worship Allah, we worship God, we worship God's son, Jesus Christ."
Standing before a screen that contained the Orwellian words "Church is the conscience of the state," Terry then ticked off a list of top ills that need redressing by the Christian faithful. First on the list was abortion, immediately followed by sex.
"As long as sexual perversion is becoming normalized, somebody needs to stand up and say, God forgive us; God have mercy upon us. As long as they continue to tell our children they cannot pray in public schools, or pray in open public places today, somebody's got to take a stand and say, God forgive us; God have mercy upon us. As long as they continue to tear down traditional marriage ... listen, God intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman, and as long as they continue to attack marriage, somebody needs to take a stand and say no, no, no, no!"
Who did he have in mind? "I believe Christians in American are the key to revival," he said, adding that only they are the key to fixing the economy and turning around the jobless rate.
And how would they accomplish this feat? "If we'll put God back in America," he said, "put God back in our pulpits, put God back in our homes, and in our statehouse, and then in Washington, D.C., then we can have revival in America, and the Holy Spirit will show up, and great and mighty things will happen for this country."
The call for Christians to infiltrate government with an agenda to tear down what remains of the wall between church and state is nothing new, of course. That call to the faithful went out decades ago with the formation of Liberty University and other religious colleges, and the instructions by political preachers such as Jerry Falwell for graduates to take their faith into the country's statehouses, where they can be found today passing bills such as the one just vetoed by the Republican governor of Utah that would have, among other prohibitions, mandated that only abstinence can be taught in sex education classes, or nothing at all.
Last night, in the revival meeting where Rick Santorum spoke, that same Republican governor would probably have been booed off the stage for having vetoed that bill. Terry himself would have prayed for his misguided soul. So count the minutes before Santorum's staff denies any direct connection with Terry or his beliefs, but what about Liberty University alum Tony Perkins and the hate-filled beliefs of his organization? Last night, before that ebullient crowd, Santorum literally received the blessings of both Terry and Perkins.
As many have said, all of this bodes very poorly for the candidate's hope of being his party's nominee, if indeed that is what he really wants, but it also underscores the undercurrent of fanaticism that is starting to define the party itself. If that many people truly believe that no wall should exist between church and state, it's hard to see where all of this will end. If the country remains divided down the middle, what percentage of the right agrees with pastor Terry? If it is even half of the half, we're in a lot of trouble, because despite Terry's call for all the liberals, Buddhists, Muslims and anyone else who doesn't like "the way we do things" to get out, no one is going anywhere because of that demand. Quite the contrary.
Americans exist because of their determination not to submit to the control of people like Dennis Terry. This land is their land. If they have to protect the nation's integrity by standing firm against the demands of bigoted theocrats, this soil is where that fight will of necessity take place.
Contrast Terry's world view with that of Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch, who today published the opinion piece, "Jesus Loves Porn Stars."
Photo: Axis of Intolerance (l-r): Dennis Terry, Rick Santorum, Tony Perkins, at a Santorum rally in Louisiana, March 19, 2012