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. stan

    i'm an athiest. i think fundamental christianity is just as big a problem as fundamental islam in this country. or fundamental ANYTHING in ANY country. that said, how can anyone complain about what this man has freely given out of his own back pocket? half a percent of the figure listed is roughly $14,000.00 – fourteen thousand dollars. thats real money. did the man have to give money to any religious groups? no. he did so voluntarily. some people need to learn the expression 'dont look a gift horse in the mouth'. If i were in his shoes i'd happily tell my critics to bend over so i can stick the next 14k where the sun dont shine. people need to be appreciative of what they get, not complain that they think they didnt get as much as they thought they might get. especially when something is given freely as a voluntary gift.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Person of Faith

      Christians don't fly airplanes into buildings on purpose, or strap bombs on themselves, find a crowded bus, and then blow themselves up. Christians want peace. Muslims want war. Christians want to help their fellow man. Muslims want to destroy their fellow man. Christians believe in protecting innocent human life. Muslims believe in killing innocent human life. It's not that difficult to see the difference between Christians and Muslims.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  2. Mark B.

    Some people actually DO give anonymously.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  3. The Leaky Trojan

    I don't care about anything regarding this man other than he is a traitor. Nothing else suprises me after that. As far as I am concerned anyone who supports him is a traitor themselves. I put this man as low as Cheney.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • DGH

      thank you

      June 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Nacho1

      Well............maybe Governor Perry believes it is more blessed to receive than to give.................could be the case?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • David

      You sound incredibly openminded about two individuals (Perry and Cheney) that I guessing you have never met. Disagree with them all you want, debate their ideas. This type of incivility saddens me about the people of the USA. Rick Perry did speak of secession once, but he was not serious...it was only a way of expressing his point that the Texas way is better than the Washington DC way. Remember, Texas was a republic before it was annexed into the USA. Why don't you criticize those who have federal power...like Obama who promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, but instead added to it (now 14 TRILLION). If Obama had cut the deficit in half, cut unemployment %, and restored confidence in the economy, I would gladly vote for him in 2012. Sadly, he has not done this.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  4. DGH

    he is a the gum on the bottom of my shoe

    June 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |

    Your sad attempt of a smear campaign of a great man who for 10 years has led the record in effective governing unlike the worst president in American history has sadly failed and has fallen flat on its back.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • lysander

      Worst President in History tells me two things. One, you get all your history lessons from a family member or friend. Two, you were born in 2008.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Robita

      You must be talking about George W. Bush. Yeah, I think he was bad, but not the worst. The worst was probably Jackson.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Big Biz

      Obama is without a doubt ..the worst of anything in a leadership role..and that includes the worst cabinet in history..Secty of Labor Hilda "La Raza " Solis .Secrty of Homeland security "Big Sis" No Problemo Napolitano...Eric "my people" Holder. OMG OMG OMG!!!!

      June 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Doc

      Evidently you are not a resident of Texas. Slick Rick has helped drive our state into the ground, while laying back in his 11 thou a month party pad paid for by US.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Mark B.

    Palin 2012! Go ahead- you've been trying to dig up dirt for over 3 years now and are still trying.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • DGH

      she a stupid B that only idiots like you would vote for......she does not have a chance

      June 13, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  7. Big Biz

    How much does Charlie Rangle claim on his taxes that he SAYS he donates to charity ? Thats the question ..hmmmmm
    How bout that clown former Democartic Presidential Candididate Al Sharpton?? He's a phoney Christian preacher from the "Church of Whats Happenin Now" he not only doesn't give ...he owes...
    Oh ...how bout "ol hairplug" the plagerist Biden? I think he donated $12 once at a church raffle.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  8. twgloege

    So what!!! Maybe he'd rather spend his money on other, more important, causes like that other big time christian Senator Vitter?

    June 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  9. Justin

    I wonder if CNN covers people like Jesse Jackson's charities and Barrack Obama, before he was President. Both gave less than one percent consistently. I don't suggest we DO look at the charity contributions of politicians, but alas most liberals are very shortsighted when it comes to issues like this. They get angry at one person, when others they like do the same thing.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Goaway

    This guy is a bozo. This is the same clown who wanted to succeed from the US, but cried when he thought the Fed wasn't getting his state disaster money quick enough. Let this genius run. It's more meat for the grinder.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  11. Usher73

    We're all already required to give far more than that to the biggest charitable organization on earth – the USA.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  12. DTLinSB

    Very disappointing. When will we get real leadership in politics?

    Can you believe someone espousing Christian Ideals and hardly giving any donations? Character does count. Judgement does count. Actions do count.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Mark B.

      I guess only if your republican. Weiner, Waters, Ranglel, Clinton – it didn't matter so much with them.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  13. Bob

    where one puts one's money is where you find where that one's heart is at.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Big Biz

      In that case is that where the govermnets heart is when they pour my hard earned money and my grandkids future down a rat hole.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  14. Big Biz

    Good for him...never give money to a Church or College.The Clintons did give their used underwear to charity.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • DGH

      they did not claim to be almighty richest conservative did they

      June 13, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  15. Mayr

    he's a phony & a hypocrit! God help us if he runs for Pres. He's a snake, watch out!

    June 13, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  16. what

    Anyone who votes for a republican is a FOOL!

    June 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • alex208

      what about Ron Paul? You think he is a fool?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  17. BlueTexas

    Perry isn't an extreme Christian fundamentalist, he's a bully and an idiot that has done nothing for the state of Texas. All he does is for his own self promotion and his own personal gain.
    What kind of president do you think someone who doesn't even give to his own faith would make? If it's anything like the Gov Perry is here in Texas – terrible.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Joleen

      Well, if he runs for President he has to give up the governship. A friend and I are hoping he will do just that, and end up unemployed. He has been a dreadful governor for Texas.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Jay

      What's your source for your rambling diatribe. I live in Texas – have my entire life – and your obviously delusional about what supposedly he "hasn't" done for Texas. What I find puzzling is CNN is comfortable deflecting the pathetic track record of the most inept president of modern times by focusing on Perry's giving record to religious organizations. But, makes no mention of what other benevolence contributions he's made to other non-profits. And to the supposed "evangelicals" that care to know his giving, I would be more concerned with Obama's track record of supporting "family planning" clinics in other countries, and his utter lack of respect for human life in the womb. But, I guess the money is the most important thing.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Bryan Jon

      Which is probably why he's the longest serving gov.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  18. Midwest Dave

    I don't get this at all. What is the fascination with holding on to $1M/yr? I make almost $200K with net worth about $1.5M, and we give away about $30K/yr, mostly to religious organizations that dearly need some strong $$ support. And why not? We've got plenty and we continue through the years to be very blessed. Probably should give away even more.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • espnfreak73

      Why on earth would you reveal your personal wealth on a public website like CNN???? Obviously you did not make your money by applying common sense!

      June 13, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • stan

      espnfreak, maybe because its likely that there is more than one dave in the midwest. or did i gloss over where dave posted his last name, home address and social security number?

      June 13, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  19. Davis Todd

    Please... I'm 110% certain that all bible thumpers walk the walk. I'm also certain he gave millions more and decided against sticking the Federal Government with the bill for the tax credit. The reported $90 was probably just to keep the IRS honest.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Chris

      Just like a true Christian......talk the talk and never walk the walk (unless it is convenient).

      June 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Walt


      June 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • omega

      110% huh. I sure hope your being sarcastic. You do know that our prisons are full of bible thumpers right?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  20. Kool Aid

    This man is as dangerous to us as Osama bin Laden...if not more so. What is the difference between extreme fundamentalism in Christianity and that of Islam (or any other faith)? Moreover, this is the same nut case who raises the Secession argument every chance he gets...presumably the risk of Civil War is worth it to this guy in order to get his point across. If a Democrat were to talk in those terms, the GOP would scream treason and attempt to prosecute! Get this redneck out of here!

    June 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Joleen

      Kool Aid. No fundamentalist Christian (as annoying as they can be) or fundamentalist Muslim (as annoying as they can be) has EVER done one hundredth of the damage to this country and the world as American megacorporations and their executives have done. One tiny piece of the damage is our banking industry deregulation and worldwide financial meltdown. Annoying they are, but if your are looking for DANGER? Look a little higher up.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • David

      Seriously, dude? Please explain the connection between Governor Rick Perry and Osama Bin Laden. You may disagree with Perry's policy, but is he planning the killing of those who oppose his beliefs? NO. Maybe he isn't the best candidate for the Republican party, but your comparison is ridiculous. You talk of megacorporations, executives, and bankers...sounds like class warfare/envy to me. How about you stop worrying about what other people are doing, stop wishing that you were one of the rich, and work hard and be happy with what you have. Help others if you choose. You seem to think that all corporations are corrupt, but you would overregulate a 10000 honest companies to stop 1 Enron scam. Your ideas cause more damage with overregulation. Remember all those evil megacorporations employ LOTS of people who live happy lives.

      June 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Mark B.

      Let me spell it out for you. Christianity – you're rewarded if you believe Christ died for you. Islam – Your rewarded if you kill in the name of Alluh. Christianity – treat women as Christ loved His church. Isalm – Go buy one treat her any way you want. Christianity – Mercy and Forgiveness. Islam – Vengance and Destruction of Israel. Any questions?

      June 13, 2011 at 6:45 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.