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April 16th, 2009
12:02 PM ET

Open Letter to Tony Perkins

Norman Lear
Huffington Post

Dear Mr. Perkins:

I was initially delighted to see that you had joined so many other American Christians in responding to the Born Again American campaign. But your recent "Last Word" column makes it clear that you have misunderstood the campaign, and I'd like to give you a better sense of our goals.

In your column, you say that our theme song, "Born Again American" by songwriter Keith Carradine, misuses themes of God and country to "lure" people into a "big government, anti-family agenda." You seem to be particularly disturbed by the line, "My country 'tis of me." You even call it "humanist dogma." I think of it another way entirely. I hear and feel "My country 'tis of me" as an assertion of the responsibilities of citizenship. It's a patriotic anthem, like "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land," which so many Americans joined in singing during the pre-inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial in January.

I'm glad that you find the refrain hopeful and instructive: "I'm a Born Again American, conceived in liberty. My Bible and the Bill of Rights. My creed's equality." I'm just sorry that you cannot overcome your unwillingness to believe that someone you disagree with politically might just be motivated by genuine patriotism, or your cynical insistence that we view the Bible and the Bill of Rights as mere props.

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Filed under: Norman Lear • Religion • Tony Perkins
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    In one of the great ironies of time, the song "This Land is Your Land" was performed by many folk singers, among them Woody Guthrie and Pete Seegar, who the FBI labeled (and labeled the song) as communist. Now less than 50 years later it is presented as a "patriotic anthem" – its funny what changes with time.

    April 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  2. c,ca

    I guess I'm not the only one that does not care for Tony Perkins.

    I'm sorry, 360, but Tony Perkins gives me the creeps. He reminds me of Ted Haggard. Whenever he's on your show he seems so slimy, and sits there with a smirk on his face preaching all of his "family values". It especially bothers me when he breaks from the smirk and laughs at the person presenting the opposing point of view – whether it's gay rights, abortion or whatever.

    Why do Christians, such as Perkins, feel that they are the judge and jury for morals in the U.S.? I'm not a Christian and my family values are fine, Tony, so mind your own business. I am pro-choice and pro gay marriage. In other words, I have respect for others and feel that they have the right to make decisions affecting their lives.

    I don't agree with the writer of this article either... "my bible and my Bill of Rights"... ?? No – the bible, or any other religious material, has no place in government.

    If people are religious, then great, that's their business. Go to your church, do your preaching there and leave the rest of us alone.

    April 16, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  3. Sue, Billerica, MA

    The other day someone asked me what my religion and ethnicity is, and I found myself saying, I am American for I have come to realize lately that is really what shapes me and what I believe in the freedom and equality that our Bill of Rights and Constitution etc give... democracy, freedom of religion or no religion, acceptance of all ethnicities and places of origin, genders etc. for no religion and no other country who my ancestors ethnicity stems from have given them nor me the wonderful things America has given me, and shaped me to be a person with no superstitions, no biases, no hatreds, and find me one religion or for that matter other nation that could have given me those things for I say why believe what oppressed and oppressors from millennia go dictated their people to believe to control them, when you can be educated to be good for goodness sake without superstitious mumbo jumbo!

    April 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Here is a central "dogma," of today's society----In God We Trust----the Rest Pay Cash," ---that is America reborn.

    April 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm |
  5. Jim- Calif

    Dear Mr. Lear:
    If you want to see this Nation survive then it's going to take 2 things- REPENTENCE of it's acceptance & promotion of things God calls Abomination & PRAYER- " If My People Who are called by my name will Humble themselves & PRAY & seek my face & TURN from their wicked ways- THEN I will hear from Heaven & heal their Land." Do not think that God will bless this nation as long as it Calls good evil & evil good.

    April 16, 2009 at 12:41 pm |