Texas governor's modest Christian giving raises eyebrows
June 13th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Texas governor's modest Christian giving raises eyebrows

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who recently attracted national attention for publicly mixing Christianity and politics, is putting some of his money where his mouth is - but not, critics say, very much.

According to an analysis of his tax returns by the San Antonio Express-News, the Republican Perry has given half a percent of the $2.68 million he earned as governor to churches and religious organizations.

Here's the Express-News:

By comparison, Americans averaged gifts of nearly 1.2 percent of their income to churches and religious groups from 2004 to 2008, according to Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based research firm specializing in U.S. church-giving trends.

In 2007 — a year in which Perry reported an income of more than $1 million — he gave $90 to his church, according to the Perry family's tax return. Twice since becoming governor, in 2000 and 2009, he reported no contributions to churches or religious organizations.

Speculation about whether Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, will join the Republican presidential field is intensifying, as more and more Republicans encourage him to enter the fray.

Earlier this month, Perry made national headlines by partnering with a conservative Christian group to host a forthcoming prayer event at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

"America is in crisis, " the governor says on a website promoting the event. "We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters."

The Express-News quotes critics of Perry who say his modest giving despite his outspoken Christian faith makes him a hypocrite. The paper also suggests the revelations about his charitable donations may cause him political problems among his Christian supporters:

 His track record could be a problem said Michael Lindsay, incoming president of Gordon College and author of “Faith in the Halls of Power,” about the growth of evangelical politics.

“He's going to have a hard time with this,” Lindsay said. “While that may be acceptable for someone who does not aspire to leadership, evangelicals get very concerned when their leaders don't walk the talk.”

What do you think? Will Perry's modest giving be an issue for his Christian supporters, especially if he runs for president? Should it be an issue?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Money & Faith • Politics • Texas

soundoff (292 Responses)
  1. RayJacksonMS

    Typical republican. He plays to the hatred and bigotry of the christians to make money.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  2. taylor

    he should run, what's one more dip-t among many.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  3. Robert

    All this shows is he didn't report it on his taxes. Maybe he gave $1,000 every Sunday to his church and just didn't get a receipt to file with the IRS.

    There is a big assumption in the leap from "he reported $90 on his taxes" to "he didn't donate alot". It is probably a correct assumption, but it is an assumption none the less.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Dan Politico

      Yeah, Right. A wealthy Republican gives money to a charitable organization and doesn't claim a tax deduction. Give me a break!

      June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |

      Robert: These are a tax deduction. You take all the tax deductions possible on your fed return. BUT! You MUST provide proof, which would be a receipt from the Church. Listing only a partial amount is just plain 'ol stupid.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Robert

      Right, maybe he only had a receipt for the $90 he gave for a dinner or something. And didn't have a receipt for anything else.

      Don't get me wrong, I am not defending him or saying that is what happened. Just mentioning that an assumption is being made between the actual facts and the discussion. The only fact is he didn't report any donations on his taxes, not that he didn't donate.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Tony Chrisitian

      Exactly, Robert. That was my first thought. AND although my giving was significant, it was not reported on our return, because, due to other factors, it made no impact on the bottom line of the return. The Gov. could be in a similar position. People are making an assumption.

      June 15, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  4. KBinMN

    This story does not belong on the Belief page, it belongs on the Politics page. It's just a shot at a Republican who recently changed his stance on the possiblity of making a run for President.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  5. abby

    If you really believe in something you support it and that includes financially. Gov. "Good Hair" Perry probably spends more on his hair than on his faith. Just another Pharisee.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  6. Whatever

    Please. Perry is just using the Christian Right because he knows that is how you get far in that party... If you want to know the real truth about Rick, just ask any gay guy in Texas. The bigger issue is his $2 Million+ salary... What a waste of money.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Ah C'mon already

    So he's a cheap hypocrite? How is that any surprise?

    June 13, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Kevin

      Just wondering how many of you believe in not "judging" someone else based on what you can observe about them?

      Just wondering........

      June 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  8. Niall

    His hair is so fake-looking, I'm not surprised his "Christianity" is also fake. How anyone could vote for him is beyond me.

    June 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  9. Byrd

    Christianity is nothing more than a tool for republicans, just as religion as a whole is nothing more than a path to war.

    June 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jesusfreaker

      You are correct. This man is no more religious than I, except for the fact that he makes an appearance in church. If you want to run as a Republican then you have to mention God. If you mention prayer then you get major bonus points. Let the voters see you in a silent prayer and you are golden. It doesn't matter that you are really thinking about seeing your secretary in the nude, the voters think you are praying.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Evan

      "just as religion as a whole is nothing more than a path to war"

      See Matthew 26:52.

      It drives Atheists nuts when Christians compare them to the Nazis, Stalin, Mao Zedong, the Khmer Rouge, etc. However, Atheists don't seem to realize how often they compare Christians to the Crusaders, Jihadists, the Westboro Baptist Church, Harold Camping, etc.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • auguron

      Just so you know, the Nazi were Christian. Also, Stalin was Catholic, but ditched that when it no longer served political interests.

      June 26, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  10. Reality

    Another "prophiteering" evangelist this time posing as a governor!!!

    June 13, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  11. Lyle Canterbury

    Since when must one contribute large sums of money to prove they are legitimate Christians? Agree with an income of over 1 million, you'd think Perry could spare more than $90, but not donating more doesn't necessarily make him a hypocrite. Should he be trying to buy his way into the pearly gates? Was this story written by an athiest liberal?

    I don't particularly like Rick Perry, but I Iike even less these idiots who go on and on about "Gov Good Hair". Yes, hair is all that's important to Rick, he has only served in public office for all these years because it gives him a window to show off his good hair. All that matters to Rick is that he and his rich friends profit from the hardships of all the dumb workers of Texas and that he can continue living a life of luxury at our expense. ABC news, Saturday Night Live, and Anthony Weiner may actually believe that, but financially conservative folks do not

    June 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • A Ehling

      Could it be that the $90 is all that is declared on his taxes and he gave in other ways like cash or in undeclared ways? You can give without declaring or to claim the tax write off. Like giving to Goodwill without getting the receipt for one's taxes.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:01 pm |

      You'd think that all these years in office in Texas the state would not be broke if Perry knew what he was doing with money. He doesn't..............all he cares about is himself & his best buds and the money they can pocket. So, if he gets into the White House, wonder how much more he will care? ZERO! He'll have more people to rob from in every state, to pad his wallet and allow the nation to suffer. Not only should Perry NOT BE PRESIDENT, the people of Texas need to GET HIM OUT OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE!!

      June 13, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  12. Doc Vestibule

    To quote Newt, "It doesn't matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I say. It doesn't matter what I live."
    Leadsership by example is for losers. Follow the right wing credo of "do as I say, not as I do".

    June 13, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Doc V.

      Nice !


      June 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  13. Artist

    What was I saying about the repugs stringing the christian dumb@ $$es along...lol. Praise GOD!

    June 13, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  14. Mildred the Mouth

    Mr. Perry needs a new accounting firm. They forgot to include his contributions to the real religions of Texas, i.e. football, barbeques, beauty pageants, and hunting.

    June 13, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Reality


      June 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • abby

      Football is the state religion in Texas.

      June 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  15. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So not only is he a secessionist, he is a miserly one, too! And this is the man that some Conservatives believe should be leading the pack in the Republican Presidential free-for-all.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  16. abby

    No surprise about Gov. Good Hair Perry - it's all about him and no one else. He also has supported all those cuts in health, education, and welfare in Texas so that teachers are being laid off. My husband and I live off a tiny pension and we have donated more to our church.l
    Perry that Pharisee.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  17. myweightinwords

    Hypocrites do not make good leaders.

    No matter what their faith.

    June 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  18. Today is the day


    June 13, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  19. What are you doing with your life?


    June 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  20. This goes great with bread and peanut butter


    June 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.