Bud Kennedy's Punch and Cookie Tricky Rick Prayer Report

The following article was published by Bud Kennedy of the Fort Worth Star Telegram today.  Obviously he did not read my in depth epistle on this matter.  (See The prayer in the schools issue - Perry tries to react to WorldPeace)  Undeniably he forgot that WorldPeace is running for governor.  Interesting that he failed to see the connection between WorldPeace and prayer and WorldPeace and terrorism and WorldPeace and religion.

Tricky Rick Perry, the Coca Cola Cowboy, was reacting to WorldPeace's public support for school prayer because WorldPeace position statement was eroding Rick's conservative constituents.  Sanchez only cares about prayers in the name of money.  Neither Tricky Rick nor Don Sanchez can traverse the legal and political mine field that is school prayer.  Bud just gave us all some nice punch and cookie reading.  Thanks Bud.

John WorldPeace
The next governor of Texas

November 15, 2001

Prayer card likely to play well with East Texans

PALESTINE - All Gov. Rick Perry said was "Amen."

With one whispered word, Texas' up-from-the-B-team governor unwittingly launched what has turned into one of the biggest publicity stunts of the 2002 political campaign.

And in this region, known locally as "by-God East Texas," he may have left Democrat Tony Sanchez without a prayer.

Both Perry and Sanchez want a "minute of silence" to open the public school day. So do a lot of Texans. Apparently - now that a Virginia law has been upheld - so does the U.S. Supreme Court.

But silent prayer is the only kind of organized worship coming back to America's public school class- rooms and assemblies. And silent prayer was definitely not what Perry amened Oct. 18 at an East Texas middle school.

There's more to the story of the famous prayer in Palestine. You've probably read or heard how a local pastor opened a compulsory school assembly with a prayer "in Jesus' name," and how Perry defended it in a storm of Austin news reports.

What you may not have heard is that the pastor leads the oldest African-American church in Palestine, one of the historic cities of Texas.

Or that a Palestine woman recognized as a "Texas Hero" says Texas Democrats also need to speak up more for prayer - and that the whole flap is only helping Perry win votes in East Texas.

"He's won over a few Democrats around here," said Dorothy Robinson, 92, a retired teacher in segregated all-black schools who was honored in 1999 as one of the state NAACP's "Texas Heroes."

"He's also won over some other people who might have voted Democratic. ... For those Austin people to complain about one prayer is - crazy. A lot of Democrats here want more prayer in school."

The pastor is Rev. Roy G. Duncan, 52, of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, founded in 1855. Then, Palestine was the fourth largest city in Texas.

"He's one of the best pastors in Palestine - white, black, brown, striped or polka dot," Robinson said. Duncan has not been quoted in news reports, but Republican state Sen. Todd Staples of Palestine has said that he organized the assembly and invited the pastor.

Duncan was absent Tuesday when the Greater Palestine Ministerial Alliance met at a chain steakhouse. Nine pastors - Palestine has more than 50, or about one for every 350 people - planned a countywide petition drive and a Dec. 6 Return Prayer to Our Schools Rally.

The pastors aren't political activists. Only a few could name one or two school board members. They didn't know about the Virginia case. One gave an e-mail address beginning with the name Glock - "like the weapon," he said.

But they wrote a petition calling for the return of silent prayer - and assembly invocations, even though the Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 vote last year that the Constitution does not allow public-address prayer.

"The liberals are out to stop prayer," said the chairman, David Johnson, 43, pastor of Christ Community Church. "They're out to stop it in Congress, and they're out to stop the Pledge of Allegiance, too. ... I know kids who are afraid to say Jesus' name in school."

(The phrase "under God" in the pledge is not original. It was added in 1954. And nobody is forced to attend a session of Congress.)

The pastors planned a meeting Wednesday at the Antioch church with Democratic state Rep. Chuck Hopson, a pharmacist who was also on the middle school stage.

"This isn't a Democratic or Republican issue in Palestine," Johnson said.

"We feel our city has been chosen to lead the way for school prayer."

Looks as if Perry - and maybe also Sanchez - will handle that.

Perry, a Methodist, said at first that it's OK to ignore Supreme Court rulings on school prayer at this "crisis moment" in history. Later, he said anyone forced to attend a sectarian Christian prayer should simply "be tolerant."

He won compliments from Virginia televangelist Jerry Falwell, who wrote that the 1963 ban on organized classroom prayer "launched the onset of descent in American education."

Perry did say something that was on the mark.

An Austin reporter asked him whether he now planned to make a campaign issue out of school prayer.

"Sure," he said. "Absolutely.

"I mean, who is going to be against that?"

Obviously, nobody in by-God East Texas.

Bud Kennedy's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. (817) 390-7538 budk@star-telegram.com