Buttressing his already formidable reputation as a purveyor of cheap demagoguery, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a so-called “Merry Christmas bill” before jetting off to Washington to speak at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. The legislation aims at protecting the Lone Star State’s poor persecuted Christians from any lawsuits keeping them from offering specially religious holiday greetings on public property.
So what does the bill actually do?
It removes legal risks of saying "Merry Christmas" in schools while also protecting traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, as long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
"I realize it's only June. But it's a good June and the holidays are coming early this year," Perry said. "It's a shame that a bill like this one I'm signing today is even required, but I'm glad that we're standing up for religious freedom in this state. Religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion."
But it does mean more special legal protections by the state for religious organizations. There's a word for that, you know. It describes the government of places like Iran.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac of Houston, said he drafted it after discovering that his son's school erected a "holiday tree" in December because any mention of Christmas could spark litigation.
"We hope that this is a fire that will take off and become laws in the other 49 states," said Bohac.
The Founding Fathers had some very choice words about religion, the state, and freedom. Rick Perry and Republicans have no use for them.