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November 5th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Rick Perry’s long faith journey culminates in presidential run

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series of stories looking at the faith of the leading 2012 presidential candidates, including Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. We also profiled the faith journey of Herman Cain before he suspended his campaign.

Austin, Texas (CNN) – Rick Perry’s new church is not like his old church.

At his new church, several hundred worshippers showed up in jeans on a recent Sunday to listen to high-decibel Christian rock from plush stadium-style seats.

The crowd, mostly under the age of 40, raised their hands to Jesus in between sips of freshly brewed coffee from the java hut in the lobby.

Outside Lake Hills Church – situated on 40 acres about half an hour’s drive from downtown Austin – a dozen sheriff’s deputies managed the Sunday morning traffic rush.

Back in town at Perry’s old church, a graying, neatly dressed crowd of several dozen gathered for services in a stately sanctuary, singing old hymns and reciting communal prayers from hard wooden pews.

There is no java hut at Tarrytown United Methodist Church – and not nearly enough traffic to justify sheriff’s deputies.

Perry’s jump from Tarrytown to Lake Hills mirrors some of the big recent changes in American Christianity: From cities to suburbs, from a formal mainline worship style that relies on liturgy to a more casual evangelical approach that’s all about connecting to Jesus.

The Republican presidential candidate’s 2007 church switch also may mirror something much more personal: The culmination of Perry’s journey from a mainline Protestant upbringing to an evangelical-flavored faith built on close relationships with Baptist preachers and giving public testimony about God.

How Mormonism helped shape Mitt Romney

Politically, his faith evolution creates an opportunity for Perry to connect with the evangelical voters who constitute the Republican Party’s base at a time when some say he’s the only candidate who stands any chance of derailing Mitt Romney’s bid for the GOP nomination, even as he has fallen behind Romney and Herman Cain in the polls.

Perry speaking at an Iowa Faith and Freedom Forum in October.

The Texas governor has made his faith a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in ways both overt and subtle – hardly the first time he has enthusiastically mixed religion and politics.

At a time when Americans have grown accustomed to hearing public officials invoke a kind of generic national religion that’s sensitive to diverse faith traditions and nonbelievers alike, Perry has often gone a big step further, telegraphing a distinctly Christian message.

For instance, when Perry lent his signature to a Texas ballot initiative to constitutionally ban gay marriage – an effort that didn’t even require the governor’s endorsement – he did so on a Sunday from inside an evangelical Christian school.

Opinion: Why Perry needs Palin

And the four-term governor often speaks of a culture war between the nation’s Christians and secular humanists, who he says are trying to stamp religion out of the public square.

“America is going to be guided by some set of values - the question is going to be whose values,” Perry said in a speech at Virginia’s Liberty University in September. “I would suggest … it is those Christian values that this country was based upon.”

Now, as he wages an uphill battle for the Republican nomination, Perry is emphasizing his Christian commitment even more than in the past, trying to line up support from conservative Christian leaders and religious voters nationwide.

Some friends of the governor say he sees his presidential quest as a kind of mission from God.

Rick Perry talks to CNN's John King

“He said he didn’t want to do it, but he felt the Lord was calling him,” says Kelly Shackelford, who recently heard Perry discuss his campaign with religious activists.

“His wife and him were both reluctant,” says Shackelford, an influential conservative activist in Texas. “But as Christians, when you know you’re called to do something, there is no doubt, no hesitation. You just do it.”

“In those days, the churches were full”

Rick Perry grew up in tiny, isolated Paint Creek, an unincorporated farming community on the dusty plains of central Texas.

Paint Creek “was on a farm to market road where they had this Methodist church on one end and a Baptist church on the other and the school in the middle,” Perry’s wife, Anita Perry, told CNN.

For Rick Perry, “life revolved around school, church and – for most boys – the Boy Scouts,” he wrote in his 2008 book, “On My Honor.”

Paint Creek’s Baptists dominated local government and imposed a strict moral code, prohibiting school dances and Halloween carnivals, reasoning that carnival games were tantamount to gambling.

“The school board was nearly all Baptist, and they drew up a dress code every year that was very concerned with hair and short pants and exposing too much skin,” says Wallar Overton, a childhood friend and Perry’s neighbor in Paint Creek.

Overton’s parents, who were Methodists, once held a prom in their house to get around the school’s ban on dancing.

Wallar Overton, Perry’s childhood neighbor from Paint Creek, Texas, says Baptists dominated local government and imposed a strict moral code.

Bud Adkins, the current pastor at the community’s Baptist church, calls such bans “pretty characteristic. That’s how everyone in the area grew up.”

“A lot of parents just felt that dances were where bad things took place,” Adkins says. “Drinking and fighting and carousing and things you shouldn’t be doing.”

Perry said his family was active in both churches when he grew up in Paint Creek in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Perry’s campaign declined interview requests, but his religious friends say his early exposure to both Methodists and Baptists initiated him into the two main branches of American Protestantism – mainline and evangelical.

Mainline Methodists tend to stress good works, while evangelical Baptists focus on personal relationships with God.

“It’s a mix of looking out and looking in,” says David Barton, a Texas-based evangelical activist who has been close to the governor for 20 years. “And it’s why [Perry’s] comfortable in so many different settings, whether it’s a Catholic or a Hispanic or a black church.”

When Perry was growing up in Paint Creek, there was a Methodist and a Baptist church. Only the Baptist congregation survives.

Perry has spoken in scores of Texas churches since becoming governor in 2000, including visits to black churches for Juneteenth, the annual holiday commemorating the arrival of news that President Lincoln's had ended slavery.

Perry’s ties to Texas’ black and Hispanic communities are largely built around faith-related issues such as abortion and gay marriage, on which polls show minorities tend to be more conservative than whites.

Though Perry attended the occasional Baptist revival in Paint Creek and appears to identify as an evangelical today, Overton says the governor was raised squarely in the Methodist church, attending Methodist services and Sunday school, taught by Overton’s mother, every week.

“Baptists taught doctrine,” Overton says. “My mom taught Christianity. ... Her God was a loving God.”

Years later, when Gov. Perry actively supported the death penalty and cuts in government programs for the poor - positions that clashed with the more progressive stances of the United Methodist Church - some fellow Methodists speculated that Paint Creek’s cultural conservatism shaped the governor more than his church did.

“This was a pretty good Bible Belt when we grew up,” says Adkins, who is a few years older than Perry and grew up in Rochester, about 30 miles away. “In those days, the churches were full and the parents were really conservative.”

Going evangelical

When Perry landed back in Paint Creek in the late 1970s, after college at Texas A&M and a four-year stint as an Air Force pilot, its small-town ways helped provoke an identity crisis for the future governor.

Then 27, Perry had been around the world flying huge C-130 cargo planes for the military. But in 1977, he found himself back on the family farm helping his dad.

After a lifetime of structure – Boy Scouts, the Corps of Cadets (a Texas A&M program similar to ROTC), the Air Force – Perry was adrift, struggling to find a path in the face of a wide-open future.

“I was lost, spiritually and emotionally, and I didn’t know how to fix it,” he told Liberty University students in his September appearance there.

Anita Perry, who was dating Perry at the time, said he “came home and all of a sudden he kind of had this world of independence.”

“He went to farm with his dad, who had been farming successfully for many, many years,” she says. “He didn’t really need Rick to come in and tell him how to do the farming.”

For someone who had served as an aircraft commander, the move home felt like a demotion.

“I came back into my old room. I swear to God I know mother cleaned it, but it looked exactly like it did the day I left,” Perry said at a May fundraising event for a Christian prayer rally he helped organize.

“It had my football number on the door, and it had the all-star football game program still stuck on the bulletin board,” he said. “It was an eerie moment for me to move back home.”

Perry says that he found resolution, while still 27, by turning to God.

“My faith journey is not the story of someone who turned to God because I wanted to,” he told students at Liberty, in what has become a mainstay of his speeches to Christian audiences. “It was because I had nowhere else to turn.

“I spent many a night pondering my purpose, talking to God, wondering what to do with this one life among the billions that were on the planet. What I learned as I wrestled with God is that I didn’t have to have all the answers, that they would be revealed to me in due time and that I needed to trust him.”

At other public appearances, Perry has said his soul-searching ended when he realized “I’d been called to the ministry.”

But that turned out to be a call to enter politics. “I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have,” he said at the May fundraiser. “I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

While being “born again” is considered an important milestone for many evangelicals, Perry isn’t known to describe his experience in 1977 Paint Creek in such terms.

As his wife puts it, “He’d already found Jesus because he had been baptized.”

“I don’t know really how to classify it,” she says of her husband’s experience. “I wasn’t in on that with him. … But I think he found the answer he needed.”

Church with the Bushes

Despite the evangelical overtones of Perry’s life-changing encounter with God, he and his wife joined a Methodist church when they landed in Austin in the mid-1980s, continuing his mainline childhood tradition.

Perry had been elected a state representative as a Democrat from a rural West Texas district in 1985. He was following in the political footsteps of his father, who was a county commissioner at the time.

In 1990, after switching to the Republican Party, Perry was elected agricultural commissioner, his first statewide office. Later, one of the capital’s other prominent families – the Bushes – joined the Perrys at Austin’s Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

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The Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin, where the Perrys attended until 2007.

George W. Bush was elected Texas governor in 1994, and he, Laura and their two daughters began attending Tarrytown.

By that time, Tarrytown had gained a reputation as a conservative alternative to Austin’s First United Methodist Church, which is right next door to the state Capitol and boasted high-profile Democratic attendees like Ann Richards, the governor of Texas from 1990 to 1994.

During the 1990s, the Perrys and Bushes were among the worshippers who made a tradition of distributing Holy Communion during Tarrytown’s Christmas Eve services. The Perrys also helped lead confirmation classes as their two children prepared to be confirmed in the church.

Perry was elected lieutenant governor of Texas in 1998, inheriting the governor’s office two years later when Bush left Austin for the White House.

Jim Mayfield, senior pastor at Tarrytown from 1988 to 2006, says the Perrys generally kept a low profile at the church.

“We weren’t close, but it was very cordial,” he says. “They attended worship, and that’s about all they did.”

Perry and then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush attended the same Methodist church in Austin.

At the same time, Perry was forming close relationships with evangelical pastors across the state.

“I’ve known the governor in a personal way for 20 years, since he was agricultural commissioner,” says Ed Young, a prominent Baptist preacher based in Houston. “I see God’s hand leading him and working in his life.

“He has grown in his faith,” says Young, who regularly talks and visits with Perry. “During crises, we look in every direction, and more and more the governor has looked up. Not in some pious God-told-me way, but in humility.”

In 2007, when the Perrys moved to a rented house in West Austin during a governor’s mansion renovation, Young encouraged them to check out an evangelical-style church a protégé had started nearby.

That congregation, Lake Hills, has been Perry’s church home ever since.

For some of Perry’s evangelical friends and supporters, his jump from a mainline to an evangelical church was a sign of spiritual growth.

“Lake Hills is a very strong church, and I’ve seen him get stronger in his faith,” says Shackelford, the conservative Texas activist. “Methodist churches are all over the spectrum. One could be really strong and conservative and the next one could be liberal.”

Anita Perry, meanwhile, says she misses her old church, Tarrytown.

“I miss those traditional hymns,” she told CNN during a recent campaign visit to Bob Jones University, a fundamentalist Christian school in South Carolina.

“The contemporary music [at Lake Hills], you know I hear it and I hear the beat. I hear the words, but I don’t know the words,” she says. “I didn’t grow up in that church; I grew in a traditional church.

“So that transformation for me was hard,” she says. “But I’m truly able to bring something back from the message [at Lake Hills] when I walk out of there.”

Pastors and presidential politics

In late 2004 as Election Day approached, polls showed the country about evenly divided between Perry’s political ally, President Bush, and Democratic challenger John Kerry.

Perry was worried. He headed to a dry creek bed somewhere outside Austin and called his friend James Robison, a Dallas-based televangelist.

“I’m out here in the middle of nowhere, a place so remote I'm surprised I get a cell signal,” Perry said, according to Robison. “I’m sitting down by myself, and I want to pray about the direction of the country.”

Robison had been friends with Presidents Reagan and Bush and had fielded many calls from Gov. Perry. The Baptist preacher said he was moved to learn his state’s chief executive was spending a day alone in the wilderness, praying.

For Robison, the call was “strictly spiritual.” But it could also be seen as evidence of Perry’s effortless fusion of faith and politics.

Perry, center, at a memorial for the crew of the space shuttle Columbia in Lufkin, Texas, in 2003.

In Austin, Perry’s political fans and foes alike say that fusion is best reflected in his track record on abortion.

Since taking office in 2000, Perry has signed laws mandating parental consent for minor girls who want an abortion, slashing state funds for Planned Parenthood and requiring a woman seeking an abortion to first view a sonogram of her fetus. (A federal judge recently issued an injunction effectively blocking that law’s enforcement.)

Supporters say the record testifies to Perry’s faith-based commitment to life.

“He has passed 20-odd pieces of pro-life legislation,” Shackelford says. “He was vilified by the media for it, and he didn’t stand his ground [just] because it was a good policy position. It really all emanated from his faith.”

Critics say the governor has overstepped, compromising women’s basic health care in the name of ideology.

They note that state funding for Planned Parenthood was barred from going to abortions even before he cut it. And they say the sonogram law Perry signed requires doctors to read biased information to women seeking abortions.

“As governor of Texas, Rick Perry has pursued a single-minded agenda: Take away women's health care, destroy Planned Parenthood, and block women's access to safe abortion care,” the Planned Parenthood Action fund wrote in a recent petition drive.

More recently, Perry has become an outspoken advocate for religion in the public square and a vocal opponent of those who don’t believe in God.

“The life of the secular humanist has a depressing end,” Perry writes in “On My Honor.”

“All their possessions will be left behind, and the only thing that will matter is what God thinks of their life in the face of eternity.”

Elsewhere in the book, which tracks what Perry calls a secular war against the Boy Scouts, he characterizes evolution as an inherently atheistic idea.

“Even if one goes along with the atheists’ argument that life evolved from previous forms,” Perry writes, “where did the previous forms come from?”

Many scientists and believers would no doubt disagree with the governor. Polls show that tens of millions of Americans back evolution and also believe in God.

Perhaps Perry’s most audacious religious gesture as governor came in August, when he organized a prayer rally in the stadium where the NFL’s Houston Texans play. The event came a few months after Perry had proclaimed three days of prayer for rain in Texas amid the state’s long drought.

Robison, who helped launch the Christian Right in 1980 when he organized a meeting between then-candidate Reagan and pastors in Houston, says he approached Perry with the idea for the rally late last year to confront what Robison said was a national moral crisis.

“I simply said that we don’t seem to call for prayer anymore, and I referenced the biblical book of Joel, when he calls a solemn assembly after locusts had stripped the crops,” Robison says. “I said to the governor, ‘No one’s called a solemn assembly.’

“I was surprised when he called one,” Robison says. “There just are not many leaders who do that.”

The August prayer event, called “The Response,” was financed by the conservative evangelical American Family Association and was intended to acknowledge that, in Perry’s words, “America is in crisis.”

Perry at The Response prayer rally in Houston.

"We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism and a multitude of natural disasters," Perry said in the run-up to the rally, which organizers said drew 30,000 people.

Billed as a “day of prayer and fasting,” it also involved dozens of conservative Christian leaders whose support is coveted by most of the Republican White House hopefuls.

But Perry's aides insisted The Response had nothing to do with presidential ambitious.

Aides say that calls for Perry to consider a White House run came only after other big-name Republicans, like Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels and Haley Barbour, announced they would not run. And that happened after Response planning was already well under way.

Skeptics argue that Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, had to be at least pondering a White House run since late last year.

Either way, the prayer event created a major political opportunity for Perry. Intense media coverage allowed him to broadcast his Christian commitment to a national audience just one week before formally launching his presidential campaign.

Perry’s Christian messaging could be especially important because Romney, the perceived Republican frontrunner, is a Mormon. Many evangelicals don’t consider Mormons to be Christian, and flaunting his faith could be a way for Perry to distinguish himself.

Last month, a Baptist pastor who introduced Perry at a major conservative gathering stirred controversy by calling Mormonism a cult. Perry has said he disagrees.

Hours with the faithful

In the months since The Response, Perry’s courtship of national Christian leaders has intensified. With Romney locking up support from much of the Republican establishment, Perry is working overtime to shore up his party’s socially conservative base.

Just a few weeks after the Houston prayer rally, roughly 200 religious leaders from across the country, mostly evangelicals, descended on a San Antonio-area ranch for the chance to meet Perry and his wife.

Over the course of a Friday afternoon and a Saturday morning, Rick and Anita Perry talked up the governor’s record and took questions from the audience. James Dobson, founder of the evangelical group Focus on the Family, served as moderator.

Robison, one of the attendees, said the Perrys talked to them for six or seven hours.

“People who were there were stunned,” Robison said. “I’ve spent time with lots of candidates, and I’ve never seen one take that much time.”

Another attendee, Christian activist David Lane, said one audience member asked Anita Perry what people would be most surprised to learn about her husband.

“He’s more spiritual than you probably think,” Texas’ first lady responded, according to Lane. “He reads the Bible every day.”

For the Texas-based pastors and activists in attendance, that was hardly news. But to scores of others who were just getting to know Perry, it was reassuring information.

“As governor, people are not asking you, ‘Tell me when you came to the Lord,’” says Shackelford, who has known Perry for more than a decade. “The people you hang out with every day already know.

“But now he’s running for president,” Shackelford says, “and all of a sudden there are these Christian leaders meeting him for the first time, and they want to know: How did you come to know the Lord? What was your journey?”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Leaders • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (3,096 Responses)
  1. Gary

    GAG – PUKE We can't stand another god nut in the White House, running things from an ancient comic book. This world is of facts, science, math, reason and logic. If you don't understand science and facts then you are too dump to be President and too dumb to vote for a president. God is pretend!

    November 6, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • kimsland

      Regarding having a 'dump'
      Religious people say god is everywhere, so therefore (with reasoning) he must be in my poo, and I flush that down the toilet most everyday.
      Good riddance to bad sh!t, and his fairytale son.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • Renae

      May God have mercy on your soul, my prayer for you is that before you face death, you will come to know Christ who loves you and died so that you may live.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  2. Jack

    Another typical dumb republican, just like George Bush

    November 6, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  3. kimsland

    And by the way, who would ever vote a religious person in who will likely be held up for child abuse later on? (as per the norm with religious 'leaders')
    US would be the laughing stock of the world.
    Headlines, US president in jail on child abuse charges.
    It aint happening religious nuttos, get use to it.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:52 am |
  4. 16halo

    I don't care what your political leanings are and I'm a Republican and a christia but this idea that the candidate is being called by God is a smack in the face to our founding fathers. What is the difference between what candidates like Perry is saying and what monarchs believed. Monarchs felt that they were called by God, led by God, ordained God and God servant to be in the position that they are in.If you strongly believe that he is being called by called to run and be President then you have to accept the fact that everything he does is God's will and not what the people elected him to do or not do, and therefore he is not accountable to the electorate but to God.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • lefty avenger

      It's a long time ago now but let's recall. George W. Bush said he wouldn't be president if God hadn't put him there. God gives these corporate oil baron war exploitative bankers tons of money because he wants them to have it. Rick Perry knows that God wants him to be president so that he can nuke the world. It's all so simple........minded.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  5. lefty avenger

    Rick Perry and his starry eyed religious wackos are scary. They would deny health care to a person who needed it or they would perish. It's so far beyond hypocrisy and these right wing gun toting hawks don't know Jesus. Jesus would be at the occupy wall street rally looking like a pot smoking hippy advocating universal health care and an end to the oil baron wars. It's just too ridiculous for words!

    November 6, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • kimsland

      Where's that damn LIKE button.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Hypatia

      Worse, Jesus would be that black homeless guy the Texas prison authority framed and executed. Sounds like Perry's more suited for the Herod or Pilate role in that story.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  6. Josiah

    A Texas governor has a "mission from god" to run for President.

    I think we've seen this movie before. It doesn't end well.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • lefty avenger

      It all ends in a TARP wall street banker bailout, their God's final decree.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:50 am |
  7. Mirosal

    Think about this ... If Perry gets into office, what do you think "god" will tell him now that Perry has the nuclear launch codes? lol .. think about THAT for a moment

    November 6, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  8. Occupado

    I don't care what the Republican nominee's religious beliefs are. I am going to vote for him or her. The only thing that has increased since Obama's elections is the poverty level, the unemployment level and the level of hopelessness particularly among those people who hitched their wagons to hope and change.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • 16halo

      So you're going to cut off your nose to spite your face. Brilliant! You should care that he is being called by God!

      November 6, 2011 at 7:52 am |
    • Howie76

      When you inherit the worst mess ever left by any president it will take 10 years to fix. Even if a republican gets in it will not be fixed in 4 more years. GW destroyed our country as his friends got rich.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Gary

      the recession started with Bush ... no one can stop a recession quickly... and the GOP's have blocked Obama at every turn.
      Blame goes to the GOP ... totally

      November 6, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Factualman

      Poverty in America has been risin since the mid 2000. Not a fan of Mr. O, but check your facts.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • tallulah13

      Occupado, I think you are confusing a President with a King. A President cannot change the country by himself. He cannot make decrees and have followed with a snap of his fingers. A President needs the cooperation of other elected officials, something this President had not gotten, despite his efforts to reinstate bipartisan government.

      I am not the biggest Obama fan, but if you wish to lay blame, you should start across the aisle in the Republican section. They have done nothing but obstruct, which only deepens the financial hole Bush dug for us. I'm still waiting for all the job creation the Republicans promised when they fought so hard to maintain low tax rates for the wealthy. And remember: Each minimum wage job created only counts as half a job at best, because you'd need at least two of them to support your family.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  9. Mirosal

    Please get the acronym right. The President is known as POTUS, not POUS. The Firt Lady is known as FLOTUS.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  10. kimsland

    We don't want to vote religion in.
    We want to vote religion out of existence.
    Religious belief is the backward ignorant pathetic cancer of society.
    It should be pushed to the gutter and laughed at by children.
    Religion disgusts me, its disgusting filth with spew on top.
    Oh, I'm not religious by the way, I find it funny, except for the open abuse on children.
    I spit on the spirit of jesus.
    No way in heII am I going to praise some dead guy. The government gave him capital punishment and everyone cheered. If I was there I'd cheer on his death too, since I'm still doing that today.
    Hooray jesus is dead, good riddance to bad sh!t.
    Yucky yucky jesus, yucky yucky poo.
    Let us pray, FOOLS
    .

    November 6, 2011 at 7:45 am |
    • 2tor

      I know, those religious foo!s. How dare they build the greatest nation on earth, so you could sit on your couch and deny what gave you the ability to espouse your opinion.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • kimsland

      What 2tor? Are you speaking goblygoop ie speaking in tongues?

      November 6, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • Renae

      Dear kimsland,
      I know your hurt and Jesus does too. He will be there for you when the day comes you realize you are not in control. I am thankful that you do know him, you know who he was, what he died for, who crucified him, who was there and what he stood for, even some of the theology. Alot to know about someone you don't believe in or trust. Thankfully it will serve you well when you need Him most. Praise God Almighty!

      November 6, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • tallulah13

      Renae, you may be all stoked that a guy was tortured to death so that you don't have to be a grown up, but those of us with a need for reality don't share that joy.

      Also, the government of this nation was created by men who looked at their contemporary examples of religion-led states in Europe and realized that true freedom depended on keeping religion and government separate. That is why a candidate for office, the office of President especially, should be able to leave his faith at the door and represent ALL Americans.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Reflection

      Renae,

      Please do not use that sanctimonious "oh, you must have been wounded" cliche. The only thing that non-believers and former believers have been wounded by is having been fed a pack of delusional stories under the guise of "truth".

      Get your comfort where you will, but please do not proclaim it to be the one and only "truth".

      November 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  11. jschau

    The last time I voted for a religious jerk was never.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • 2tor

      Then you never voted.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • kimsland

      LIKE

      November 6, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  12. Reality

    Is Gilgoff working for the Perry camp?????????????????????

    Anyway, putting this whole Republican – Christian love fest to rest with a prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    November 6, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  13. JiminTX

    God also told Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City killings dozens of children. Perry is in good company.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • Reality

      – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols escaped the death penalty twice because of deadlocked juries. He was sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole,[3][7] and is incarcerated in ADX Florence, a super maximum security prison near Florence, Colorado. He shares a cellblock that is commonly referred to as "Bombers Row" with Ramzi Yousef and Ted Kaczynski

      November 6, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  14. A.B.

    There was a reason why our founding father's choose a seperation of church and state, interprited, religious, beliefs can and do lead to emotional reactions that tend to be intolerant of other people's (group's) point's of view. Political decissions should be based on rational tought, not emotinal response. Rick Perry is running for president using Texas were I happen to live, and our job stability and growth as a reason why he is qualified. This isnt his personal doing on any level. Texas is a large state with a deverse economy and large pool of skilled workers. Ask any parent what Rick Perry has done for Texas Shools and what he has done as govenor that has made any difference what so ever on securing our border and see what they say? Ask any Texan what has happen with their property taxes, while the same corportations that they work for are receiving tax break after tax break. Rick Perry has zero buisness being president.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  15. Erik

    As Bill Maher said, like Perry, Cain and Bachmann also claim that God spoke to them and told them to run. So, isn't God lying at least to two of them?

    November 6, 2011 at 7:42 am |
  16. DesMoiner

    Perry is simply another nutbag looking to install his version of theocracy into the government. Where a candidate goes to church on Sunday (or Saturday for that matter) should have NO bearing on their ability to run things, but when they wear it on their sleeve like a badge of honor it smacks of pandering and favoritism. Between him and that idiot Bachman, people should be VERY afraid. You wanna be religious? Fine....keep it in church and keep your version of the almighty OUT of my government. This isn't the 18th Century anymore!

    November 6, 2011 at 7:41 am |
  17. Dee

    C'mon America!! Do you honestly want to put the fate of your nation in the hands of someone who thinks he's talking to God??? That gets you a 72 hour committal, not the presidency.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • 2tor

      Been doing it for over two hundred years. Worked out pretty well, up until God died in the 60s. Been downhill since.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually not, 2tor. Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams - these guys were not the prayer-happy Presidents people make them out to be, Jefferson especially. They are the ones who created our government, and I have no doubt that they would be appalled by the Perrys, Bachmanns and Romneys running for our highest office.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    RICK PERRY MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH......WHAT IS THIS POS GOING TO DO NEXT...........TELL US THAT "JESUS"
    CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN TO BLESS HIS CANDIDACY????..............WARNING: HE IS WORSE THAN RICHARD NIXON FOR
    THOSE WHO REMEMBER............HE WOULD STAB HIS WIFE AND MOTHER IN THE BACK WITH A BUTCHERS KNIFE TO GAIN
    THE WHITE HOUSE............HE IS THE FATHER OF ALL POLITICAL LIES AND ONLY KNOWS HOW TO FIGHT DIRTY WITH EVERY FORM OF LYING AND CHEATING..........HE IS IN REALITY A DEVIL WORSHIPPER..............KEEP THIS NO GOOD LYING BUCKET OF FILTH IN TEXAS............

    November 6, 2011 at 7:40 am |
  19. BillsCatz

    Ah, but only in HIS God - the God that says him, his church all his cronies should live really well and prosper. Off the sweat of everybody else if necessary.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:39 am |
  20. jschau

    One thing is certain, the dumb and dumber will always keep the 1% in power as the 1% destroy the country, while the dumb and dumber that make up the tea baggers and the republican/religious base destroy us. Fools deserve what they get. The rest of us...deserve more.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:39 am |
    • Reality

      "The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shoul¬dered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per¬cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. These are proportions of the income tax alone and don’t include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare."

      http://www.american.com/archive/2007/november-december-magazine-contents/guess-who-really-pays-the-taxes

      Obviously, we need more rich people to reduce my tax burden !!!

      November 6, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      Reality, statistics are much more compelling when they don't come from a conservative website.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:07 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.