Senate needs to view agriculture secretary nominee with skepticism

1sonnyperdueThe Senate should be highly apprehensive about President Trump’s nominee for secretary of agriculture.

Sonny Perdue, the ex-governor of Georgia, has a demonstrable record of fealty to religious overzealousness and a disdain for science. He has revealed his preference for faith over reason-based policymaking on several occasions.

Over the years, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a state/church watchdog, had contacted Perdue a number of times to suggest he “get off his knees and get to work.”

In May 2003, shortly after assuming office, Perdue declared a “Day of Prayer” in Georgia.

“WHEREAS: We are afforded the privilege of prayer and the joy of seeking guidance, strength, comfort and inspiration from Almighty God,” the proclamation read in part. “Regardless of our individual beliefs and faith practices, we have an assurance that God hears our prayers and faithfully responds to our humble petitions.”

The same mindset motivated Perdue to issue a theocratic statement the following year opposing gay marriage.

“We do not apologize for our deeply held belief that marriage was the first institution ordained by God and it was between one man and one woman,” Perdue stated. “I have never wavered on my stance: I have a deep conviction that marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman that is made before God.”

Perhaps most infamously, in the midst of a 2007 drought during his governorship, Perdue led a prayer meeting to beseech God for rain.

“Bowing his head outside the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue cut a newly repentant figure as he publicly prayed for rain to end the region’s historic drought,” the L.A. Times reported at the time. “Hundreds of Georgians — ministers and lawmakers, landscapers and office workers — gathered in downtown Atlanta for the prayer vigil. As Perdue described it, ‘We have come together, very simply, for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm.'”

In staging such an event, Perdue showed a preference for belief over logic that would have alarming implications for the Department of Agriculture and its direction if he assumed its leadership.

What should also set alarm bells ringing in the Senate is Perdue’s already publicly known disregard for science, especially with regard to global warming.

“Writing in an op-ed published in the National Review [in 2014], Perdue challenged the connection between climate change and drought, extreme precipitation, and other weather events,” reports the Center for American Progress. “He also wrote that climate change has ‘become a running joke among the public’ and ‘liberals have lost all credibility when it comes to climate science because their arguments have become so ridiculous and so obviously disconnected from reality.'” 

It’s Perdue who instead lacks credibility about issues pertaining to the department he wishes to head. The Senate Agriculture Committee should keep this firmly in mind while deliberating on his confirmation next month.

Photo by Bruce Tuten under CC 2.0.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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