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. Angie Rodriguez

    People should concentrate on a politicians politics, not how he donates his money. How he donates his money isn't going to affect the way you live your daily life. It seems like the media loves to stir up dust so that people don't concentrate on what matters. I just pray the American people are much smarter than the media gives them credit for. -_-'

    June 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • jc

      Ricky Perry is holding a MoronGelical christians prayer fest.
      He needs to be called onto the carpet for his hypocrisy.

      June 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Rick Perry is a bought-and-paid-for politician. He is owned by wealthy Republicans in Texas – mostly oil men but a couple of pharmaceutical firms also "rent" his love from time to time. Remember the HPV vaccine? If being a Christian is good for re-election – Slick Rick will be a Christian. If you want a right-wing moron for President, you should push for Rick immediately. He's a more dishonest version of "W".

    June 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  3. Ken from FL

    I lived in San Antonio for awhile; papers don't get much more liberal than the Express News. You think they might be going after Perry and not telling us the complete story? Hmm, you think???

    June 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • jc

      Kenny – what we have here is a math problem.
      Percentage = (amount given) / (amount earned).
      Just use your seventh grade math skills and figure it out.
      Good old Ricky Perry also lives in a rental property that is costing Texas taxpayers $10,000.00 (plus landscapers)
      A MONTH.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  4. adam modelski

    Everything is bigger in Texas. That's why so many there wear boots. I was shocked and dismayed when Americans re-elected Dubya. But I think they finally got the picture. I don't think anyone wants to take another chance on a governor from the Lone Star state. Not to put down the state or its wonderful residents but things are different down there and people should accept that. What works in Texas will not work for the rest of us. Remember LBJ? Helll of a man but boy did he scew us in Vietnam! The same way Dubya did in Iraq. No mas!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  5. Jake

    This black on black crime has to stop.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  6. dick

    Just another phony politician. Worst then most.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  7. Back to the drawing board

    Lindsay said. “While that may be ... get very concerned when their leaders don't walk the talk.” Ummm I believe that's "walk the walk" chief.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • TryReadingOnceInAWhile

      Ummm, you believe incorrectly

      June 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • TryReadingOnceInAWhile


      June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  8. Ralphy

    The ignorant sheep will still follow this buffoon. I'm sure his portrait is in every Texas trailer park, right next to that insipid Texas star they insist on slapping everywhere.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Put up or shut up

      Go down there and say that to a Texan's face you coward behind the keyboard. If you do, don't bother buying a round-trip ticket. You won't be going back.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Texas Dem

      Hey Ralphy, not everyone in Texas is a Republican – there are a LOT of us Democrats in Texas who think he is an a$$. But lay off the Texas star – them is fightin words! 🙂

      June 13, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • PulTab

      couldn't agree with you more Ralphy!

      June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Texas Marine

      His face is not in every trailer park, but on every big business owner's bathroom wall behind the toilet. Perry does not know anyone in a trailer park, he just knows how to take their land away for toll roads. Google the facts!

      Yes, the star is everywhere and basically means, we are just one of the star's in the American Flag. Texans are proud of that fact. Not like some other states who believe they are individuals because of some weird idea.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Thomas

      Puthat ... Well isnt that the point? That the mentality of 'those' people is to fight over something like that? Really, by your response it is not surprising that Texas has such a poor rep - outside of Texas I mean.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      I was referring to the comment "Put up or shut up", to be clear.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  9. Doc

    A person's religion is their own and not anyone elses business. Whether he does or doesn't give is something between him and God on judgement day. That being said, as a lifelong resident of Texas, if you vote to elect Rick Perry for president, you deserve what you get. If Slick Rick does to the U.S. what he did to Texas, God help us. If Rick Perry becomes President, 3 things will happen – (1) 4 years of renovations to the White House, while Slick Rick rules from the western White House beach house in Malibu, (2) Perry will be the next American president impeached, (3) You will be begging Obama to come back.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Sam

      Perry is the most dangerous candidate that the Republicans could offer up. He simply does not believe in freedom of religion unless you choose to be a Christian. He also is very opposed to public education because prayer is not allowed.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
  10. Hogwash

    "The Express-News quotes critics of Perry who say his modest giving despite his outspoken Christian faith makes him a hypocrite." So you have to pay these fools or they'll call you a hypocrite? What's wrong with this picture?

    June 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  11. Cojack

    This guy is a phoney................................Put him in the same camp with Sarah Palin......................

    June 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Jake

      And you are a moron....Put yourself in the same camp as Weiner.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ray Brown

      Of course Rick Perry is a phony. He doesn't walk the talk and people ought to see through this! A basic Christian tenet is 'to whom much is given, much is required." As a public figure espousing strong Christian beliefs, he ought to be held accountable, and that means, voicing our dismay and keeping him in Texas.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  12. Elizabeth

    A good steward is part of Christian living. It does not matter how much you give, support your church financially and help the poor regularly.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  13. Eric of Reseda

    Perry and all this "Christian" politicians are phonies, just looking for the Christian vote. And because all you have to do is say, "Jesus!", and Christians will flock to you, makes sense that he would use the, "I'm a good Christian" ploy. If we know ANYthing about Evangelical Christians, they are PURE suckers! I mean, how many of these Evangelical preachers have been outeds as crooks!?! And in the case of say, Robert Tilton, Christians STILL give this crook money!!! And then there's Aimee Semple McPherson, Lonnie Frisbee, Marjoe Gortner (to his credit, he exposed the BS), Billy James Hargis, Jim & Tammy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Peter Popoff, Morris Cerullo, Mike Warnke, Robert Tilton, W. V. Grant, Bob Moorehead, Roy Clements, John Paulk, Paul Crouch, Douglas Goodman, Kent Hovind, Ted Haggard, Paul Barnes, Lonnie Latham, Gilbert Deya, Richard Roberts, Earl Paulk, Coy Privette, Thomas Wesley Weeks, III, Michael Reid, Joe Barron, Todd Bentley, George Alan Rekers, Eddie L. Long, Marcus Lamb, Vaughn Reeves, Stephen Green, Albert Odulele. WAKE UP CHRISITANS!!!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • LouAz

      You left out 260 + catholic poops !

      June 13, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  14. Roscoe

    Conversatives have conservative views unless it applies to themselves.

    June 13, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Cosmo the Space Rabbit

      That is very, very true!
      They want it both ways as long as they get all the advantages.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Finish the sentence

      ... in which case it's ultra-conservative.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jake

      That is so true. Only liberals like Weiner live up to their names.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  15. Carolyn

    The real story is not how much money Perry gives to charity, but how he earns so much given he has been a politician his entire career. Please CNN, follow the money!

    June 13, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  16. Jerry

    Perry is a joke. And a liar. He's only using the Christians to get the vote and that is all. Otherwise he would be donating more than the average American. Disgusting.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Do the math

      And you donate how much? $275 per week? I don't THINK so, but that's what he's doing you tool.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  17. mike

    I'm confused. How does giving nothing in two years between 2000 and 2009 equate to CNN referring to it as "modest giving"?

    June 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Jake

      I'm confused too. How does a head between your ears equate to you having a brain?

      June 13, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  18. Pyrrho

    In case there is any doubt that Governor Perry does not keep religion and governance separate this is a quote from him on Sept. 12, 2010:
    "I am a firm believer in intelligent design as a matter of faith and intellect, and I believe it should be presented in schools alongside the theories of evolution".
    It is interesting that evangelicals like to call evolution as "just a theory" to demean it not understanding that evolution is a theory but they just don't understand the word "theory" in the scientific sense. If they understood the scientific method they would further exhibit their ignorance by "believing" the "theory of intelligent design" but then all the nonsense of ID could be debunked by the processes of the scientific method.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Chris

      listen up nut job. I don't beleive in god and absolutely love science. Evolution is a theory that has not been proven just as their theory of intelligent design. You calling their theory wrong is just as dumb as them calling evolution wrong.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Pyrrho

      Chris. You may love science but do you understand the scientific method. Theories are not absolutely "proven". Newton's laws are not absolute as amptly shown by Einstein who himself was not found absolutely correct. Please look up "scientific method" on Wiki. By the way the your idea that I am a "nut job" is "just a theory".

      June 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  19. Byrd

    Mark B: What world do you live in? Since when did the Catholic Church, or any other Christian church for that matter, treat women with equality? America kills people of the Muslim faith every single day, but I'm willing to bet that not one of those deaths matters to you in the least, because you think Jesus is going to save you anyway. Good luck with that.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  20. Aoistic

    A christian calling a christian a hypocrite? Boy, talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You are all hypocrites, silly.

    June 13, 2011 at 6:48 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.