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September 14th, 2011
10:58 AM ET

My Take: Don’t be fooled by candidates’ God talk

Editor’s note: Brian T. Kaylor is assistant professor of communication studies at James Madison University and author of “Presidential Campaign Rhetoric in an Age of Confessional Politics.”

By Brian T. Kaylor, Special to CNN

Rick Perry’s Wednesday visit to Liberty University marks only the latest effort by the Texas governor to reach the White House by confessing his faith.

Even in an election cycle dominated by economic concerns, Perry and several of his Republican presidential opponents have spent the last few months trying to out-God-talk one another in hopes of attaining salvation at the ballot box.

While debate moderators and election commentators focus on economic issues, the religious rhetoric of the presidential candidates appears to go mostly unnoticed - except by the key Republican voting bloc being courted. After being a Republican, the best predictor of someone being a Tea Party supporter is whether a person has a desire to see religion significantly impact politics.

This type of confessional politics, in which candidates invoke God and cite Scripture to win elections, has unfortunately dominated U.S. politics for three decades. Ever since Bible-quoting Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter won the White House in 1976, presidential candidates have followed his example of using religious rhetoric that is testimonial, partisan, sectarian and liturgical.

Exemplifying the confessional political style, Perry said he felt “called” by God to run for president. He kicked off his campaign with brazen confessional gusto, bringing tens of thousands together in an NFL stadium for a day of prayer and fasting.

In June, Perry secretly met a group of nearly 80 conservative Christian leaders at a gathering organized by evangelist James Robison. The Texas evangelist led a similar secret meeting in 1979 to plot Jimmy Carter's defeat.

That earlier effort culminated in an August 1980 religious-political rally with Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan that helped Reagan mobilize conservative pastors for his victory. At the event, Reagan famously used a line suggested by Robison to win over the crowd: “I know you can’t endorse me … but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing.”

Perry isn’t the only candidate who believes the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue runs down the church aisle.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has also said she felt God was “calling” her to run, won the Iowa Straw Poll last month in large part because of support from conservative evangelicals. Her campaign strategy includes speaking in churches and garnering pastor endorsements.

Now that Perry has entered the race with a similar strategy, Bachmann’s poll numbers are in free fall. As Jesus warned, those who live by the sword will die by the sword.

Even candidates who might not be expected to try their hands at confessional politics have orchestrated come-to-Jesus moments.

Libertarian-leaning Ron Paul may idolize thinker Ayn Rand (even naming his son after her) but he is rejecting her atheistic worldview as he hopes to become the GOP’s standard-bearer. In July, Paul’s campaign launched its “Evangelicals for Ron Paul”  initiative.

The website for the effort prominently features a quote from Paul: “I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, and I endeavor every day to follow Him in all that I do in every position I advocate.”

Even Mormon candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, whose faith makes them suspicious to many evangelicals, work references to Jesus into their speeches.

In the last presidential campaign,  Romney proudly confessed, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Savior of mankind.”

At the June Faith & Freedom Conference run by former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed, Huntsman attempted to endear himself to the evangelical audience by crediting Jesus with bringing his adopted Chinese daughter into his family.

These candidates may not have the same natural religious swagger as Perry, but they're clearly seeking faith-based voters in hopes of not being left behind.

Romney has spoken at Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, as has Paul, while Bachmann is speaking there in a couple weeks. Then-presidential candidate John McCain spoke there in 2008, even after labeling Falwell an “agent of intolerance.”

Sometimes the political conversion experience on the way to Washington seems even more dramatic than the spiritual conversion of the biblical Paul on the way to Damascus.

Not to be outdone, President Barack Obama also employs the confessional political style. During the 2008 campaign he spoke of God and cited Scripture with more eloquence and ease than McCain. Obama continues to weave biblical themes and divine references into his speeches, including in remarks last weekend at the September 11 anniversary event in New York.

Voters should ignore attempts by candidates to out-confess one another and instead focus on what really matters.

John F. Kennedy declared in a speech to Protestant pastors in Houston: “I believe that we have far more critical issues in the 1960 campaign … the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctors bills, the families forced to give up their farms - an America with too many slums, with too few schools.”

These same issues demand our attention today. When religious confessions crowd out critical issues, we all lose. We are not electing an evangelist-in-chief.

When political elections come down to who can claim to love God the most, we all lose. Religious devotion and piety does not inherently equal governing competence.

When religion becomes merely another political trick, we all lose. The politicization of faith profanes the sacred.

My prayer is that candidates and voters will move away from confessional politics. As a committed Christian and former Baptist pastor, I do not wish to see religion excluded from the public square. However, giving religious beliefs too much weight in electoral decisions undermines the basic democratic values that have guided our nation for over two centuries.

The expectation that candidates talk about God and their personal religious beliefs shifts attention away from critical policy concerns, creates a de facto religious test for office and essentially disenfranchises those of minority faiths or who have no faith. Confession may be good for the soul, but it is not always good for democracy.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian T. Kaylor.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,643 Responses)
  1. ThirstyJon

    The author ignores the possibility that one or more of these candidates could actually just be being who they really are. They may or may not have a political motive for their "God-talk." Someone who knows God cannot help but talk about him.

    This whole article presents motives for the candidates by just assuming those motives.

    While it is possible for a religious candidate to be deceptive and claim to love God when they don't, it is also possible that they are telling the truth.

    And obviously, a certain percentage of the population wants to hear about the faith of the candidates. I know that I do. I also want to hear from people who have known them for years to testify as to whether or not their faith is real.

    Everyone operates from a Worldview. I want to know if the candidate has a firm moral foundation on a Christian Worldview or not. I don't believe for a second that this is an irrelevant issue.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • lisa

      I agree with you and I'll take it a step further by questioning the author's claim to be a "committed christian".

      September 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • A Theist

      On some level I agree as well. I take a little issue with the article's certainty that Perry had political motives for the prayer. At the same time, I don't think it's necessarily an irrelevant topic. The point is, there is a chance that this is all done for political machismo, and we need to be wary of that.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • saopaco

      I would prefer a more secular political conversation. To me, the person's religion is of no concern. I am more interested in character.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  2. oneSTARman

    MATTHEW 25: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?..When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – JESUS or maybe a Liberal OR "Beliefs based on individualism – whose members feel free to attack their enemies" – Anton LeVey – Church of Satan also known as The Tea Party.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • scott

      Be gone you evil liberal troll.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      @Scott – I see from your Need to Attack that YOU Follow The Latter School

      September 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • scott

      You call people you don't agree with disciples of satan in the religion section of CNN and you think I'm attacking you.
      Your'e a hypocrite.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • saopaco

      Get a room, guys.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  3. nokoolaidcowboy

    Impossible. Politics is a dirty game. And as a Christian, I have witnessed how many hypocrites have come and gone pretending to be righteous. I say don't look for the Christian angle, look for them to be decent and then be pleasantly surprised that they be virtuous.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  4. John Stefanyszyn

    "...effort by the Texas governor to reach the White House by confessing his faith."

    Does Mr. Perry publicly confess and live by the belief that freedom of rights and religion is the "good" way of life?
    YES, as do all of the other "Christian" candidates."

    ....this is his true faith....his talk of Christ is 'religion" and hypocracy...
    ...would he confess that Christ is the One and Only Truth and that all other beliefs (including the belief in freedom of religion) and "religions" are false and self-righteous?....perhaps he would not confess to this... perhaps he would have no chance to become leader of the free world and president of a nation that lives by this primary core belief in serving one's own interests (the belief in freedom of rights).

    September 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Kay

      Sorry, but *you* don't know how they live. You only know how they *say* they live. By now you should realize that they are *not* the same thing.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  5. Brian

    Maybe Jimmy Swaggart should run for president. He likes to talk about God. There is nothing more false than people who flaunt their religion in public.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  6. md

    After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave – a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. -And we- we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.

    from Nietzsche's The Gay Science, s.108, Walter Kaufmann transl.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • saopaco

      Buddha was not a god. That is the whole point of Buddhism.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  7. Robert

    News Flash: We never left the age of confessionalism!! We live in the most religiously diverse society in the history of mankind. Thank God we have freedom of religion. Much of the world does not!

    September 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  8. Simon

    I encourage all Americans to read their own history and learn the truth. American was not founded on religion or Christian values (god forbid). We are a secular democratic republic and only secular democratic republican virtues will save us. Abandoning those virtues will not only mean our collapse, but will only reinforce the similarities between the US and the Roman empire, which you probably don't know declined into barbarism, despotism and ushered in a thousand years of what we now call the Dark Ages. Evangelical, militarized and theocratic Christianity was at the forefront of this decline and will be a the forefront of ours as well.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Albert

      Good point. I had forgotten that Rome declined and fell under the theocratic rule of Christian emperors....hm

      September 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  9. Barry G.

    If a politician is sincere and is genuinely a godly person, I think it’s wonderful that they express their faith in God. All I ask is that they put their money where their mouths are and truly live godly lives. (If you're going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.)

    The problem is when people are disingenuous, which I’m afraid is all too often.

    Jesus called such people hypocrites, who were more concerned with making an ostentatious religious impression than they were about living the way God intended.

    For the politicians I suggest they start by living by some basic biblical principles:
    No greed.
    No bribes (or campaign contributions from wealthy donors, which surely corrupt)
    Be humble. (Put the needs of the people you serve before your own, as a good leader should.)
    Tell the truth. (Don’t lie or tell half-truths.)
    No lust
    Honor your covenant with your mate.
    Keep your word.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Impossibru !!!

      No Republican would ever be able to do those things!

      September 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Albert

      Politicians are often adulterers, almost always liars, and are always known for their greed and hypocrisy.
      You are asking too much of them, Barry.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  10. Robert Holt

    I don’t see anything wrong with Rick Perry or anybody else publically expressing their religious faith. If Rick Perry urges some students to put their trust in God, oh, big deal. It doesn’t mean you’re supposed to forsake science or ignore important issues. I think that a lot of people who are opposed to candidates expressing their religious beliefs simply don’t have any of their own. Yes, maybe sometimes a candidate may say religious things for the wrong reasons but maybe sometimes a candidate may say religious things for the right reasons. In this country a person shouldn’t be looked down upon simply for expressing their religious beliefs.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Albert

      They aren't. Read the article. They are being looked down upon for prost.ituting their beliefs for the sake of political gain.
      If you don't think your Jesus was a wh.ore, then why treat your worship of him that way?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  11. oneSTARman

    If it were GOD I would Not Be So FRIGHTENED but it is SATAN That is Being Manifested by The TeaParty Beast.

    September 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • parentof6

      Yep the Tea Party principles are clearly satanic. Don't spend money we don't have and stay out of the citizens life, very satanistic. Get in line for your government cheese oneSTARman.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Dennis

      At times I just get sick of all the hate, whether it's because of our political parties, racial, religious faiths, or cultural differences simply b/c we are from different countries. Truth is we all come from the same father (whether you choose to accept him or not).

      It's sad we can't ever have respect and peace in our world, instead we feed off self destruction- harassing/making fun of, pointing fingers at, or killing those w/ views or opinions different than our own....... Now please bash my comment and lay into me w/ some sort of personal attack or name calling. Thanks 🙂

      September 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      @Dennis – I could Not Agree with You MORE.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Albert

      Dennis, if you are asking that everyone respect a harmful belief or evil intentions or bad ideas based on bad religion, then you need to think about it a little more.
      If you want bashing, sure, keep saying shallow and short-sighted things like expecting everyone to give every evil thing a free pass. I'm not going to stand by and let crazy people ruin my country even more. I'm going to fight.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • saopaco

      @Dennis
      "Truth is we all come from the same father (whether you choose to accept him or not)."
      Whose truth is this? Yours? It is certainly not mine and I resent your implication that it is. If you want a civil discourse, then realize that not everyone believes as you do, and stop trying to indoctrinate them.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Kay

      If I were God, I wouldn't be frightened by Satan. I'd just be so disappointed that, yet again, so very many of my children are still so gullible or so self-centered as to fall for the same old lies.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  12. Jeff H

    Dennis all I have to say is Amen Brother. The only things I can add is that we have taken God out of school, and as a nation we try so hard not to offend anyone, well in my opinion maybe the Chrisitans of this country should unite and not worry about offending others and start by preaching the truth of God more

    September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Dennis

      I agree 🙂

      September 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • go

      Yeah, especially that truth in Leviticus. Really want to teach our kids that too. Slaughtered a gerbil today, nice and bloo-dy and all, and burned it so god is all happy now. Yeah, Christianity. Gore and guts and all. You go.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Albert

      Your "god" was never IN school to begin with!
      You think prayers need to be paid for with public money, but you are as wrong as wrong can be.
      Pray if you like, but school-sponsored prayer is illegal. Pray in school all you want, but the second you try to form a "prayer club" or something religious like that where the school has to pay for it or even support it, you will be taken to court.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • A Theist

      @go, Please remind me why it is that Christians don't follow the book of Leviticus or the Old Testament Law anymore.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Ed

      the Christians have spent quite enough time not caring about their neighbor. Thats why the none chirstians think we are hypocrits. We need to be concerned with how they feel and work with the to find common ground. Not ignore their concerns and just preach at them. we have tried that for 2000 years hasn't work yet lets try something new

      September 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • uh

      DUH, it's why there is a separation of church and state and for good reason. I don't want you talking your nonsense to my children!

      September 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      Remember, "This world is not of the kingdom of God" and "The Kingdom of God is inside you" and "We are God's building"?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • go

      Hey, "a theist" (and thanks for admitting your stupidity in your name), shall I get into the gore and guts in the New Testicle too?

      And how come your "perfect" being got it wrong the first time around?

      Your religion is nothing more than yet one more silly cult. Get over yourself, and wipe your brain once in a while too.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • go

      then wash your hands. thoroughly this time.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Gracie

      @Jeff,

      You are 100% right on point.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • A Theist

      @go You just brought the intellectual discussion to a screeching halt. Thanks for that mindless babble. When you find your brain, please indicate where in the NT is there any demand of animal sacrifice, or "gore and guts" as you call it.

      I'm not going to claim this with absolute certainty, but by the way you're responding to my comments, I'd wager I'm at least smarter than you. So call me stupid all you want.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • A Theist

      And as for "the first time around," if you knew anything about the Old Testament, you would know that "the first time around" was always intended to be preparation for what I assume you would call "this time around," or the beliefs of the New Testament.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • uh

      A Theist, if you bring up the gay issue many Christians will rattle off OT scriptures as well as new testaments. Many even use Leviticus, it all depends on your interpretation of the scriptures since Jesus said he was here to fulfill the law not remove it, that is what a true evangelic christian would say. That's what's so funny about christians they pick and choose which scriptures they will follow while condemning others.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • A Theist

      @uh I would refer those "Christians" to the other passages in Leviticus, and ask them if they are also ensuring that they are not hanging out with women who are "unclean."

      Then I'd direct them to 1 Corinthians 9: 8-9, which says:
      8Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. Is it about oxen that God is concerned?"

      Jesus said the ultimate commandment was to love God with all your heart. The fulfillment of the Law means that we no longer care about following rules, but instead ought to love others and honor God with our actions.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • OH-NO-Duck

      A Theist.....watch out....here comes Heaven Sent.....thump.....thump....thump.....;-)

      September 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • GaryM

      All these comments about how we've taken God out of school, etc. etc., is only based on Christian concepts. The Found Fathers were not church goers, nor were they particularly religious men. We like to think they were church-going Christians but that's simply our innate desire to deify our pantheon of Founders. They took great pains to insure that everybody would be free of the government telling what to believe.

      All these people now who "want to put God back in the schools and offices and courthouses" – are referring to the fundamentalist Christian version of God and Scripture – and the very thing our Founding Fathers feared. You don't hear other faiths and persuasions calling for – what is their equal right in this country – for the particulars of their beliefs being implemented. It's just one small narrow group of fundamentalist Christians who want everyone to pray their way and see only their version of Scriptures. That's OK. Then we'll be "saved." Sorry. That will be hell on earth.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • saopaco

      If you try to overthrow the const_tutional republic that we enjoy today in order to replace it with a theocracy, then realize that you will meet with resistance.
      I took a vow once to protect the const_tution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I still take it seriously. I am sure that many of us do.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • go

      "a theist", thanks for admitting that your god got it wrong the first time around. Good on you, little pee-brained one. You're making progress.

      No, you aren't smarter than me.

      Now let's look at just a few of the many gory New Testicle tidbits, you stupid ass=hole. We'll start with Luke:

      Jesus heals a naked man who was possessed by many devils by sending the devils into a herd of pigs, causing them to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. This messy, cruel, and expensive (for the owners of the pigs) treatment did not favorably impress the local residents, and Jesus was asked to leave. 8:27-37

      Jesus says that entire cities will be violently destroyed and the inhabitants "thrust down to hell" for not "receiving" his disciples. 10:10-15

      Jesus says that we should fear God since he has the power to kill us and then torture us forever in hell. 12:5

      Jesus says that God is like a slave-owner who beats his slaves "with many stripes." 12:46-47

      "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." 13:3, 5

      According to Jesus, only a few will be saved; the vast majority will suffer eternally in hell where "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 13:23-30

      In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man goes to hell, because as Abraham explains, he had a good life on earth and so now he will be tormented. Whereas Lazarus, who was miserable on earth, is now in heaven. This seems fair to Jesus. 16:19-31

      Jesus believed the story of Noah's ark. He thought it really happened and had no problem with the idea of God drowning everything and everybody. 17:26-27

      Jesus also believes the story about Sodom's destruction. He says, "even thus shall it be in the day the son of man is revealed ... Remember Lot's wife." This tells us about Jesus' knowledge of science and history, and his sense of justice. 17:29-32

      In the parable of the talents, Jesus says that God takes what is not rightly his, and reaps what he didn't sow. The parable ends with the words: "bring them [those who preferred not to be ruled by him] hither, and slay them before me." 19:22-27

      Jesus tells his disciples to eat his body and drink his blood. 22:19-20

      Quite the evil basstu-rd of a god you've made for yourself there.

      September 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Kay

      I find it so sad that people like you continue to keep bringing up this same old absurdity. "They took God out of schools"???

      Would you like to explain to the rest of us exactly how God can be 'removed' from anywhere since God is everywhere???

      Or maybe, for some bizarre reason, you just believe in a weak and puny god. Oh well.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • A Theist

      @go I recommend you take your Tourettes medication before you start claiming that you're smarter than me. How old are you anyway? Did you go to college? If you did. then you should know how to carry on in a civil manner. If you didn't then there's no point claiming that you're smarter than I am.

      Use a di.ctionary to learn the term "preparation" while your taking those meds. It wasn't a mess up, it was a Phase 1.

      For crying out loud, moron, you were talking before about animal sacrifices. Hence the "guts and gore." I usually try to be civil, even when I think someone's being ignorant, but it's clear to me that High School etiquette is still too much for you, so I'll spell it for you: you're an ignoramus of the highest caliber. I could spend pages upon pages trying to get through to you this new contention you have raised with the Bible, but it would take an oil drill just to burrow through that thick, empty skull of yours.

      I'm certain you still believe that I'm the idiot for believing something that you find stupid, but I'd be willing to bet that I know plenty more than you. So please, carry on in your rant and ignorance, but I've given up on you. Enjoy the darkness that is your ignorance. And maybe when you've graduated High School, you'll bother to read some Scholarly ana.lyses on these verses that you believe you understand better than Jesus Himself–on both sides of the argument.

      September 14, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  13. Pete Scobby

    Two Republican presidential candidates are walking down a sidewalk. Ahead on the ground is a picture of Jesus and a campaign check for $1,000,000. Which one would get picked up first?

    September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • A Theist

      Ohh man, I was going to say "I'm pretty sure most everybody would grab the million dollars"... and then I saw the joke.
      I see what you did there! 😀
      Touche

      September 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Ed

      @ Democrats same questions same result. All politians are greedy basta-rds and ca't be trusted

      September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • A Theist

      @Ed The point is the Repubs would pick a picture of Jesus up over a million dollars (in other words, act illogically on behalf of their faith).

      September 14, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • JT

      They would pick up the check of course and when confronted later about it would claim they never saw the picture but if they had they, of course, would have picked that up instead.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • I_get_it

      You can get a picture of Jesus any old place. Now, if it was the "real" live Jesus lying there, that might be a different story.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Kay

      Depends on whether or not the media was there. Media present? The picture. Just the two of them? They'd pick up the check, laughingly proclaim it a miracle, and agree to split it. Then they'd walk away, suddenly catching themselves and return to pick up the picture they'd totally forgotten about.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  14. GaryM

    I don't get it. We all know that God punishes us on earth for our misdeeds. He sent the AIDS virus to punish us for unspeakable acts. Pat Robertson told us so. Pat also told us that God sent Katrina to punish us for various more misdeeds. The recent earthquake was an alarm clock for the end of the world. So, why is Perry still running? All those fires in Texas are a sure sign that God doesn't want Perry running. Why hasn't Pat Robertson said anything? Or is it because God only punishes only liberals? That must be it. God must be Republican. Funny, I always thought of Jesus as more of a liberal.....

    September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • parentof6

      Funny, I don't see how Jesus could be a liberal. Jesus didn't teach to take from others and give to the needy, he preached that individuals should help the needy. What book, chapter and verse teaches us to expect the government to take care of us?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • GaryM

      Jesus taught us to be responsible to and for our brothers and neighbors. "Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth." Then he started the Republican Party.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Kay

      Well, parent...when Jesus said "render under Caesar..." he didn't say "unless it's going to be spent on the poor, because the government has no place in helping the poor"...now did He?

      September 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
    • Kay

      Whoops...sorry. I meant "render UNTO Caesar..." Hopefully everyone understood that 🙂

      September 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • GaryM

      Not sure what your point is here, if there is one.

      September 14, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • GaryM

      It's clear that you feel that if you are poor, or sick, or in any way in need, the government should in no way help you, and you should be left on the street corner to beg, much like in Biblical days, because, just like then, you are poor or sick because it's your fault (you're stupid or lazy, or otherwise deserve it.) The government has no place helping sick or poor people. BUT, public education- that's different, right? I would like to see it in print that you want the government out of education, too. If they have no right to tax us to provide healthcare to us, or provide basic necessities for members of our society, then they have no right to tax us to provide education to us, either. You can't separate them. There is no difference. Those are all obligations of advanced, civilized societies to better itself as a whole. Anybody who feels they are different is simply hypocritical, illogical and inconsistent in their beliefs. No government support for healthcare, the poor or education. I can accept that. I don't agree with it, but that's at least consistent and in line with some rationalized jungle-civilization philosophy, that says, "I have mine and I want to make sure nobody else gets theirs so I can continue to be on top." Fair enough. Honest and consistent.

      September 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  15. Ken in MD

    If we believe that God will solve all our problems, why do we need politicians?

    We have a separation of church and state in this country for a reason. Politicians, leave God in church and do your jobs.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  16. Mark in canada

    Well said, Reverend Taylor. My late mother was quite religious but that didn't qualify her to lead a country. She also would never presume someone's religiosity was a sign of ability to govern...quite the opposite. Wearing religion on one's sleeve drew skepticism. "Why do they have to announce it?", she would ask. "Why not just live it?"

    September 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  17. Kyle

    Religion needs to stay out of government. And so do democrats. Get rid of both and we might actually have a chance to last a little while longer.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • justsane

      but where do you intend to find the republicans without religion?

      perhaps we need to be governed by atheist independents...

      September 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Kyle

      The republican party isn't necessarily dictated by religion. One can have a belief system without bringing the sky-hostess into it.

      For example, republicans like guns. liberals do not. This has nothing to do with religious beliefs. This has more to do with one group wanting to take your rights away, and the other does not.

      Life would be much better in this country if all politicians were atheists. Then we could actually get some work done.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Kay

      In other words, leave out everything *you* disagree with and we'll be fine and dandy? Life just doesn't work that way. Thank goodness!

      September 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • huh

      "some" republicans like guns, some do not. "Some" liberals do not like guns, others like 'em just fine.
      Just like some liberals have a hard time seeing how their ideas are unworkable, the same goes for some conservatives.
      Add religion to the mix, and you have people basing their ideas and decisions on made-up stuff that is almost always unworkable and unreasonable. Even irrational. On all sides.
      I like guns and fireworks and fire. In my town, fireworks were banned by conservatives who are mostly NRA members.
      We have city leaders who use their religion like a club and use public funds to protect their churches.
      I already live in a semi-theocracy. It is the most pathetic way to run a locality that I have ever seen.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  18. Bob of West Virginia

    As a person of faith I have been staunch supporter of the separation of Church and State as our wise founding fathers intended. Mixing the two is just a formula for trouble and sounds like something Satan would support. Our religious faiths need to focus on taking care of their congregations and their communities first and the rest will take care of itself.
    P.S. Yes Perry said he was called by God to be elected President. He also prayed for rain and got fire instead. Maybe he really is the Antichrist?

    September 14, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Kyle

      No such thing as god, satan or an antichrist.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Realist

      I think that's the same call that George W. Bush got.. I remember him saying, "God wanted me to be President. That's why I ran, and that's why I won." I'm not religious, but I don't think it works that way, and am horrified by those who do. Moreover, I'm appalled that sensibility seems to disappear whenever "God" is injected into a conversation: George W. Bush further claimed to be in daily conversation with god to help him run the country.. if he'd said he was talking to god via his hair dryer, it would've precipitated a national emergency.. I fail to understand why it's the inclusion of the hair dryer that makes the claim alarming.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • GaryM

      My thoughts, exactly. Doesn't Perry get the hint from God?

      September 14, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Kay

      A nice, thoughtful comment. Thank you.

      September 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  19. Alfonzo Muchanzo

    Don't know why so many on here act like anyone with basic common sense or logic must be and atheist. That simply isn't true. There are both brilliant and dumb people of all faiths. You sound really ignorant when you cmake such naive remarks.

    September 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • FatSean

      Santa Claus.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Kyle

      Run that through a spell check and try posting it again.

      Thanks.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • A Theist

      Logic is a part of my future profession, and so I definitely claim to have a grasp on that! 😀

      September 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • go

      You don't cmake sense.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  20. Dennis

    America must like being the "infidel", no wonder why other religious countries despise us. We legalize gay marriage, constantly try to legalize marijuana, try to remove "in God we trust" or "one nation under God", and remove the ten commandments from courthouses, etc. Sadly, the country I love becomes the modern day Sodom. Not surprisingly the Libs love it that way

    September 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Alfonzo Muchanzo

      @Dennis – While I do agree that our country has seen a moral collapse (correlating with a decrease in religiousity) and it's similar to the Biblical Sodom, it is up to the people (not the gov't) to stand up and try to do what's right. Trying to force people to believe in this or that religion (via theocracy, gov't requirements, etc) never works.

      The only way to change hearts is to try and help all no matter what and have a pure heart, hoping they will take notice and then inquire as to what your beliefs are. As long as they are not hurting other people, they should be allowed to practice whatever they believe in, no matter how hateful it is. God gave us free will, and so should our country.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Darth Vadik, CA

      Thanks for posting the dumbest post of the day...

      ...starting with "religious countries despise us because we legalize gay marriage...", that is exactly what it is NOT you freaking MORON...

      ...as far as the rest, NONE of that religious stuff belongs on government property, or laws....

      ...if you wish to build a Noah's Ark in your back yard and post 10 Commandments all over it, then by GOD no one will stop you...

      September 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • uisqebaugh

      Dennis: Sorry, but you must have missed the civics class where they discussed the separation of church and state.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Ken in MD

      What does religion have to do with morals? Some of the most immoral acts are committed by religious people.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • DJ

      The thing that many of the voters don't seem to understand is that there are MANY religions, and many people who think theirs is right and everyone else's is wrong. To expect us to be governed by religion is insanity. And totally unfair to the large number of us who don't believe in any religion or who belong to any other religion besides Christianity. I think Jiff Crunchy peanut butter is the ONLY peanut butter. Want me to pass a law that says you all have to have it because I think it's the best? Of course not. Religion is the same thing. You want to pass laws that force us to be just like you.

      September 14, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Snoozie

      Yes, correct. I am a liberal and I just LOVE it that way. And I love it because we are not a "religious country". We are a country with a clear distinction between church ans state. We are a country that has citizens that are religious (as well as those that are not), but we are NOT a religious country. And rightly so.

      September 14, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
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About this blog

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.