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. Frogist

    I have no issues with him not giving money to his church. It would be curious if he was among the conservatives who call to defund or diminish funding to social programs because they think "charity" should be up to individuals not govt... Then it would be curious.

    June 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  2. Grandma

    It's none of anybody's business how much or who gives what to church or charity. This is disgusting and obvious there to demean Gov Perry.

    I am a nobody but this is the reason I have given cash. I discovered many people are just plain snoopers and the idiotic newspapers should shut down if they consider snooping and gossip the only news there is.

    June 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • marykaygramma

      At first it concerned me but then I remember my husband who is a tax accountant say how many clients who are well known Christians in town do not list any giving to church or charities. We believe and follow the old 10% of the gross rule but I'm thinking now maybe some of them do give cash without claim and Gov Perry may well also. We need to be more concerned about his history in govt. and what he's stood for and done for the people, if he actually runs for president...& if he would have the goods to beat BO which is going to be the big thing.

      June 14, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  3. bighoss

    Perry's defenders, above, can crank out all kinds of specculative and fanciful "reasons" for his stinginess with his church, but the FACT remains that he is a tightwad as regards charitable giving and a hypocrite, given the way he represents his righteousness before men. His middle name should be "Pharisee."

    June 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Monte Williams

      Perry will say anything to get elected. He is a socialist and nothing else. He would be as bad or worse for this country than Obama. The only reason he's still Governor is no one has run against him that would talk the talk during an election. Texas would love to see him go somewhere else, but not the White House. From a Texas that has followed his lies for years. He will lie if it will get him what he wants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  4. Behind the scenes giver

    I have giving well over 10% for years to various worthy causes without any record being kept. The Bible says not to "let your right hand know what your left hand does" and to do such things "in secret".. If you look at my IRS return there would be no contributions claimed. I figure what I give to Jesus is no ones business...even mine. Maybe Gov Perry is doing the same. Maybe not...but maybe so.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • ScottK

      "The Bible says not to "let your right hand know what your left hand does" and to do such things "in secret".. "

      And here I had thought that was the scripture that says it's ok to master bait.

      June 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Up Your Rear Admiral

      @ Behind the scenes giver: Oh yeah? I gave 500% to "worthy causes". Never kept a receipt. Say no more, say no more

      June 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  5. Pat

    I am disappointed that Governor Perry gives so little to the church which is a mandate in the bible for the followers of Christ and the biblical teachings. I had high hopes that he might be someone that would have high qualifications for the office of President. I'm sure he does have a lot of good qualifications for that office but without the basic and fundamental desire to follow the teachings of God's word, which I feel most or at least 95% of those already in the race have, there is some question as to whether he would actually have enough wisdom, which comes from adhering to the teachings of God's word and following those teachings, bring. I feel wisdom is one of the most important qualities needed for such an important office.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Carol McSwain

      Could it be possible that Rick Perry has given much more than that to other charity's? Or is it possible that he may think that it's no one's business how much he gives? It just may be that he is only allowing that much to be made public. I have no doubt that Rick Perry gives much more than we are being told. And why exactly are we demonizing him? The only governor to recollection, who is not so doggoned concerned about political correctness and has the guts to call for the governors of this country to come and pray for this land. I think rather than demonizing him we should be applauding him for not being afraid to show the people of this country his desire and willingness to show that he is not afraid to call on the only One who can get us out of this mess, God our Father.. At least he has the backbone to stand up for something! Unlike so many of these politically correct politicians! And you know what, if $90 is all he gave to his church that is between he and God. Get over it!

      June 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  6. Mike

    This article complains that Gov. Perry ONLY gave one half percent of $2.68 Million to the church? Correct me in I'm wrong, but that's $13,400 in donations. How many of you complainers have donated that kind of money to anything? If you haven't, you have no right to complain. I don't care if he didn't donate a nickel. I wouldn't be voting for his generosity, I would be voting for his values and experience. I surely won't be voting for Obozo to have another four years to destroy this country.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  7. Marie Kidman


    June 14, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  8. Haime52

    Even Al Capone thought that is was the duty of the rich to help the poor. His soup kitchens rivaled those of the Salvation Army, in Chicago. Too many politicians court voters and have no real sympathy with them or their causes. "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also..." Obviously, he does not value his religion or he would support his church. $90 does little to keep the lights on. I would wager that the members who make $30K and less individually, give more than he.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:13 am |

    Anyone gullilble enough to give 10% or in fact any of their hard earned money to con artists that hide within the cloak of religion deserves whatever hardships that befall them. Humans created the perversity that is called religion and yet for some reason, the animal that is man can't seem to get past this pschological disorder. If you want to do something charitable and that is beneficial to your fellow man give to a specific organization that is actually trying to do good in the world. Like the American Cancer Society for instance or the American Red Cross or the Disabled American Veterans. Only a psychologically disturbed (religious) person has nothing better to do than to rail against a man that didn't pay enough for his 'salvation'.

    June 14, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  10. Doug

    I could care less if he only gave $90 to the church. I don't think people should feel obligated to give money to the church anyway. They earned the money if they want to give it away then they can if they don't then that is their choice.

    I am more concerned with the fact that some people actually want this clown to run for president. Take a look at the Texas Education system and what kind of finacial bind it is in, directly because of some of the choices this man made. If, financially speaking, he can't handle Texas's education system what the hell makes people think he can handle the office of the presidency. Republicans are reaching when they want someone like this......hell this is worse than Palin....I would vote for Palin everyday of the week and twice on Sundays before I voted for this clown.

    June 14, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • buddha12

      Obviously you are not from Texas. Yes we have an education problem, and financial problems like every other state. Most of our problems come from the federal mandate that we educate the children of illegal aliens. If the federal govt. would do their job and close the borders, there would be more than enough money to properly educate the legal children in our schools. Why don’t you take aim at the federal govt for NOT doing their job. Funny that Texas has the largest job growth in the country, and some of the lowest unemployment in the country, but all you look at is the education. Sounds like a true liberal to me.

      June 14, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • SadlySensible

      No, I do live in Texas. Gov. Perry is going to receive a huge smackdown by the teachers. One of the previous Texas govenors warned him, but Gov. Goodhair thinks he's invincible. He touts a highly educated workforce to lure High Tech companies to Texas, gifts them with millions of dollars from the taxpayers and when the "highly educated workforce" doesn't materialize due to budget cuts in education those companies will leave as soon as they can. Texas is at the bottom of just about everything–except pride and big talk.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  11. ife

    Put your money where you heart his. Who is Governor Perry, like his fellow republicans, try to fool. They claim to be christian but serve mamon. Where is the mandated 10% of the imcome. Governor perrry, according to the book of malachi is a robber/thief. he is robing God of the 10% and robbing manking of the help needed. he is not fit to be messenger talking less of Governor or President. Why are you proffesing to be Christian when you are not. You can fool man but cannot fool God

    June 14, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  12. doctore0

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.

    Don't be sheep.

    June 14, 2011 at 6:22 am |
    • FairGarden

      American atheists are the most unthinking obedient sheep to sci-fi fiction writers. Soviets were smarter; they read the Russian classic novels, not those worthless sci-fi cartoon books Americans favorited.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  13. FairGarden

    The money usage is one of the accurate methods for measuring what we are. We get to keep it for a few decades on earth.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  14. FairGarden

    We know God mainly uses the sum of meagar but sacrificial givings of the average Christians, not just a big gift by the rich. To God $1 or $1 triillions makes no difference. He owns the universe and beyond. He looks at our hearts. Our tiny sacrifice in the name of Jesus moves the heart of the Almighty.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • themood14

      Remember the widows two mites was more than vast sums of the rich

      June 14, 2011 at 4:47 am |
    • doctore0


      Spoiler: God is man made.

      June 14, 2011 at 6:23 am |
    • FairGarden

      God created Doctore0. However, He didn't make Doctore0's stupidity. Stupidity is Doctore0's free choice.

      June 14, 2011 at 8:24 am |
  15. FairGarden

    Christians should AT LEAST give 10% to churches and 10% to missions even if it hurts. Biblical ways. Astounding, blissful results for the lifetime and for all eternity. And many Christians give more than that.

    June 14, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  16. Reality

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

    June 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  17. s kel

    hate nothare , hate.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  18. s kel

    big biz you freaking stupid moranic fool. Who the f ck in that hateful nazi like so called party of yours is capeable of leading this country from being dragged into the corperate loving people hating hell that you repukes put it in, none. Mark my word u better watch it , and i mean watch it if a tea party traitor makes it to the white house, violence will rule the country. Hare will be your new god.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Dustin

    His entire run in office has been a joke, just to prove his lack of committment to serving,
    which is the bedrock of the Christian faith, he sure has served public education...
    By not fixing the funding problem and ignoring the dilemma until after he was re-elected. My wife and I Combined make 3/10 of what he makes and we give over half of what he did in '10. What's the verse? It's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  20. gus

    People get the government they deserve...welcome to Distopia.

    June 13, 2011 at 10:20 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.