© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Separating Church and State, Wind Energy and Wine

Howard Chandler Christy

Governor Rick Perry appeals to the religious right by talking about the "myth" of the separation of church and state and Rob Boston from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State responds. Wind energy is revitalizing rural Texas, so what is the future for the renewable energy source? How a Texas winery is using renewable energy to be self-sufficient.

Separating Church and State: What did the founding fathers really mean?

Texas Governor Rick Perry:

Even though Governor Rick Perry is no long running for President, he is still on the presidential campaign trail stumping as a surrogate for the GOP nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Perry has become the go-to guy in trying to shore-up support in the religious right wing of the Republican Party – a faction that is critical for election success.

This week, Perry addressed voters on the religious right in a conference call as part of the “40 Days to Save America” campaign, which seeks to warn the social conservatives about the consequences if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

"This separation of church and state, which has been driven by the secularists to remove those people of faith from the public arena - there is nothing farther from the truth. When you think about our founding fathers, they created this country, our Constitution, the foundation of America upon Judeo-Christian values, biblical values and this narrative that has been going on, particularly since the ’60s, that somehow or another there’s this steel wall, this iron curtain or whatever you want to call it between the church and people of faith and this separation of church and state is just false on its face... Satan runs across the world with his doubt and with his untruths and what-have-you, and one of the untruths out there is driven — is that people of faith should not be involved in the public arena."


"You think about what has gone here in the last few days around the world and never has there been a time that I think we need more spiritual courage, that we need more moral fiber if you will. The American family is under seize, traditional values are somehow exclusionary, a simple prayer in our public schools is the basis for these secular attacks; you think about this spiritual warfare that’s going on and [inaudible] going strong as President Obama and his cronies in Washington continue their efforts to remove any trace of religion from American life. It falls on us. We truly are Christian warriors, Christian soldiers, and for us as Americans to stand our ground and to firmly send a message to Washington that our nation is about more than just some secular laws. Activist courts, we see them chipping away from our values and remove so much that is very special and unique about the United States."

Rob Boston - Americans United for the Separation of Church and State:

"The religious right is an important part of the Republican base and I think in this election year especially, there is some concern that they may not be terribly enthusiastic or that they might not turn out, or that they might not want to vote for a Mormon. So there are a number of people out there, political activists, working to get them fired up and active as we approach the November election."

"The principle of separation of church and state is a principle that was devised in part by men like James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington - goes back to the founding period. Both Jefferson and Madison spoke in their writings of the phrase: 'separation of church and state' or 'separation of religion from government.' But the point is that they believed that religious freedom could only flourish if we had this separation. They were not trying to be hostile toward religion or to shut religion down, but they truly believed that  in the United States we wouldn't make the same mistake that had been made in European nations where religion and government were joined together and there was violence and war and conflict as a result."

"It is sometimes difficult to respond to some of the arguments that are used against separation of church and state because they are so incoherent; claims that separation of church and state is satanic, for example. You hear that from some folks on the religious right or different language, and of course these are the same people who are agitating separation of religion and government in the Islamic world, who would love to see it imposed in Muslim nations. I would ask those folks to consider this: When they argue that there should be no separation of church and state, what is the alternative? Some kind of merger of religion and government? Which religion? We have thousands of varieties of religion in the United States... Rick Perry would probably not be very happy if the Christianity that the government chose to align itself with was of the liberal variety. He's talking about fundamentalism and conservative Christianity merging with the state."

The Importance of Wind Energy

Ellen Carey - spokesperson for the American Wind Energy Association:

Texas has long been an energy provider for the nation.  Oil and natural gas from Texas is critical for America to achieve energy independence. And add to the mix – wind. Drive thru West Texas, Parts of the coast and up to the panhandle are you’ll see countless giant turbines – majestically cranking out power for the grid – while adding jobs and income to rural Texas. The sky is the limit for Texas wind power – but gridlock in Washington D.C. is leading to uncertainty for the future of wind farm development. The problem is the soon-to-expire wind power tax credit.

"Wind is 35 percent of all new power electric generation in the U.S. today, and it has also been a manufacturing success story, where we are increasing and insourcing our wind-component manufacturing."

"It is absolutely crucial that we extend the production tax credit as soon as possible. What is happening right now is without the certainty going into 2013, developers are not placing orders into the supply chain and into the manufacturing facilities; the nearly 500 manufacturing facilities in 43 states that rely on those orders to make the component parts so that they can keep humming and churning out these big parts. 37,000 jobs lay on the line, and we will continue to see layoffs happen in the industry as the PTC expiration looms."

Making Wine With Renewable Energy

Wind Energy is just one example of how rural Texas is embracing high tech sustainable energy and natural resource sustainability. Next weekend September 29th and 30th – the Renewable Energy Roundup & Green Living Fair will be held in Fredericksburg Texas to show off energy saving methods and hold workshops; more information online at www.theroundup.org. Gary McKibben is implementing these methods on his winery and will participate in the Renewable Energy Roundup.

Gary McKibben - Wine maker in Meridian Texas:

"Wineries are a great candidate for sustainability both for generating its own electricity and rainwater and a lot of other things, it lends itself perfectly to the principles of sustainability. First of all, we generate a peak load during the hottest parts of the year so that makes it ideal for generating your own electricity because the rest of the year it's rather low and flat and we can contribute back to the grid. Then for irrigation for your vineyards, collecting rain water. Since our buildings are rather large we have a lot of roof area so we can collect rain water, and that's of course sustainable. And then our cooling loads are really high, so we lend ourselves perfectly to using geo-thermal. There are a lot of wineries in the countries right now, especially in Texas, that are using all three of those principles."

"All the manufacturers are jumping into the product lines and they just keep getting better and better. Everybody I talk to somebody they are coming out with a new system that's better than the previous. The one thing that's really changing are the batteries and the electrical systems; the electrical systems are becoming very efficient. In fact, we are in the process of converting part of our winery over to 48 volts and we will be going off the grid because the 48 volt systems now are so efficient."

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi