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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. Trileene

    So, great that Perry is a super religious person. I'd like to hear how he's given back to the community, how he's helped others rise up from poverty or slavery, beacause this is how wonderful Christian people give back. I'm waiting to see how he and his wonderful Christian wife have given back to the community.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:02 am |
    • Phil

      "because this is how wonderful Christian people give back." See how annoying that message is?

      Do you think the atheists just sit on their hands all day? NO. We constantly provide...typically through science because the god you believe in is a constant no show. Especially when natural disasters are taking place.

      A single pair of hands working are better than a thousand folded in prayer. Remember that next time you spout off with "how wonderful christians are".

      November 6, 2011 at 3:15 am |
    • notsotexan

      Rick Perry, in his own words, has a "love affair with guns", and shooting animals for fun is his way of appreciating the world God created.

      November 6, 2011 at 4:27 am |
    • Lee

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/governor-rick-perry-charity_n_922890.html
      Check out the link... He does NOT give back. From 2000-2009 he made 2.6 million and gave HALF a percent to charity. EVERYONE in the nation can do more than HALF a percent of their income. Religious or not, we ALL Need to give back! PArry clearly only talks the talk. He does not walk the walk.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:21 am |
  2. Phil

    All sorts of gods have come and gone throughout time. Either because they were proven not to exist or people lost faith. The god you think exists doesn't actually exist. It's as real as the one the Vikings yelled at during a solar eclipse because they thought the sun was being eaten...

    As real as Santa Claus.
    As real as the Easter Bunny.
    As real as the Tooth Fairy.
    As real as the Boogeyman.

    When are you going to come to your senses and just accept the fact that god isn't real. You can have a happy and normal life without worshiping a god. The atheists are very happy people. You can have morals without a god. Morals are a choice, not a church.

    god is an invention of man. It's a tool to control and manipulate people. In the bible, you'll see that god approves of all sorts of horribly violent acts against humanity. Don't come back and tell me "that was a different time" because it wasn't.

    Are your children out of line? Kill them! Because god says that's okay to do. Would you really worship a moron who endorses that?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Trileene

      Actually, God is real, but it's people like this that make it totally unreal and destroy the real message.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • Phil

      Please, Trileene. Provide us with proof. I figure I've got about another 35 years or more left. Shall we meet back here around 2047 to see if you've come up with anything?

      November 6, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • Michael

      @Trileene, prove it or shut up. You are absolutely right, people throughout time have made up a large amount of different Gods that fade in and out, its almost time for the Christian God story to fade out.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • curmudgeon56

      Christians will tell you that Jesus invalidated all the laws of the Old Testament, that stoning your unruly child was only an Old Testament thing.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Wisc Badger

      Phill were is your proof that God does not exist? Who created the the big bang? Where did all the matter in the universe come from? How did life begin?

      November 6, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • Mirosal

      Actually, Phil does not need to prove or disprove anything. Trileene made the claim, and Phil just asked for proof of that claim. Burden of proof lies with Trileene to make the claim, not on Phil to disprove it.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • AJ

      It does say that you should kill your child if he or she disrespects you in the bible. If that is true what you say that Christians would say that Jesus made those laws invalid than why are Christians still hanging on to that one about gay people. It makes no sense how come some Christians choose which passages they think are important and others they can let go. They contradict themselves. I wonder how can someone call themselves pro-life and be for the death penalty. Plus, Jesus was a victim of the death penalty. They make no sense to me.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • aric

      you are so, so wrong

      November 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • DC from NJ

      Thank you for your comments. I only wish that there were more people like us. Maybe someday people will realize that they need to concentrate on making THIS world better, and forget about the make-believe world in their heads.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • photoman1

      "Phill were is your proof that God does not exist? Who created the the big bang? Where did all the matter in the universe come from? How did life begin?"

      Read a Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking and you will understand how all the matter in the universe came to be.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm |
    • NiceTry

      @Mirosal: "Actually, Phil does not need to prove or disprove anything. Trileene made the claim, and Phil just asked for proof of that claim. Burden of proof lies with Trileene to make the claim, not on Phil to disprove it."

      Actually, Phil does need to prove it by your logic, because in his orginal post he claims that God is not real. Pay attention to all the posts so you don't say things that make you look like a fool.

      @Photoman1: So you are basing your beliefs on how the universe began solely on what one person said...thousands of other people claim different things, but if Stephen Hawking said it it must be true.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Sharon

      "Christians will tell you that Jesus invalidated all the laws of the Old Testament,"

      Jesus orders Christians to follow the Law of Moses in the Old Testament: "Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke or a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)" It is quite clear from these verses from the New Testament that Jesus peace be upon him did honor the Old Testament and did say that every single "letter" of it has to be honored, followed and fulfilled.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  3. Michael

    This dude should be a preacher of a mega church, not President of the U.S., I side with Republicans usually fiscally (or did considering now both sides show no sign of making cuts), but if Perry, Bachmann, or Cain take the nomination, I will not vote.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • twgloege

      We've got a religious nut case in charge her in Kansas and believe me – IT AIN'T PRETTY.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • nancy sabet

      Perry created 40% of jobs in the last 2 years.

      November 24, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  4. Trileene

    What a ditz.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  5. Obvious State

    Religion has nothing to do with a person performing their job. If you are convinced that religous beliefs somehow affect a person's ability to do their jobs..."Christian" presidents have been destroying, defacing, and defiling their way through the presidency for decades.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Froggy29

      Reading these blogs gives me great solace in the fact that I am not alone. I am a Christian, but keep my faith and beliefs to myself. I was also born in Texas, but left as soon as GWB was elected governor. Also left the USA after GWB was elected for 2nd term as POTUS. I simply refused to raise my children in a country where the majority of people chose GWB over a legitimate patriot and war hero. The shenanigans perpetrated by Turd Blossom (who never wore a uniform) against Kerry were unspeakable. I lost all hope in the system and people who could not see through these conniving- invincibly- ignorant- idiots. C'mon people. Haven't we learned enough from these types of fanatical hypocrites? Can you count the damage done by Bush and Dick? It boggles the mind how many innocent lives were lost and how many boys we maimed and put in body bags- all for a damn lie.

      And now, they all blame Obama. Give me a break! This guy was handed the helm of a ship that was sinking? Domestically, Obama has been sterilized by a congress that wants him to fail so bad, they won’t pass anything to help the American people. As a Marine vet (Beirut ’83), I would have been honored to serve a commander and chief that surgically snipes out Somalia pirates and took out OBL in one of the best military missions (we have known) of in recent time. There are plenty others, but we keep secrets for national security and don’t go throwing parties on aircraft carriers waving banners and taunting our enemies by saying “bring it on”. By George, I think the insurgents gave you just what you asked for- you !%^*&&*- idiot!

      I am very concerned for my homeland and am somewhat relieved by the hundreds of people who have also had enough.

      No more fanatical village idiots from Texas- PLEASE!!!!

      November 7, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  6. Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

    Rick Perry is just a speech-challenged college flunky from Texas. Sound familiar?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:52 am |
    • JA Ramsey

      ... who thinks that God wants him to be president

      November 6, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  7. rules

    If you are interested to know about Mormonism, here is a good , sober site written by an ex-missionary http://www.LDS4U.com

    November 6, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      We shouldn't elect any Bishop to the White House – including Bishop Romney.

      But co-opting a prayer service for political overture is...blasphemy

      November 6, 2011 at 2:51 am |
    • Phil

      Momo's are just as bad...are are the Jojo's. Why would anyone want to learn more about them.

      I was born an atheist. Against my will (only because I was too young to understand) I was baptized and forced to go to church. I was a Catholic for 18 years before realizing what a crock the whole thing was. I've been an proud atheist for the past 20 years.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • Jesus

      I know of a Black Mormon fellow who lived in Salt Lake City in the 1960s. He'd bath himself in Clorox because he wanted to go to Heaven At that time Mormons believed that you had to be WHITE to be in Heaven. A Black man would simply have to turn WHITE before he could partake of all the benefits of being a Mormon. In 1978, the head of the Mormon Church had a "vision from God" that said that Black people were OK afterall.....a vision that occurred 14 years AFTER the 1964 voting rights act became law and, of course, contradicted Brigham Young. How anyone with an ounce of moral integrity can follow this cult of idiocy is way beyond me?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Mission from God....

    ...God sure picks the dumbest people to run from President, from Texas no less...

    ...Folks, I TOLD YOU RICK PERRY WILL WIN THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION, I DID, I DID, I DID, I DID...

    November 6, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Jesus

      READ MY LIPS....NO NEW TEXANS!!!

      After "W, Texas should not be allowed to offer up a Presidential candidate for at least 100 years.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  9. Ian

    The problem with someone who thinks they're on a mission from god is that they will not listen to *any* reasonable counter-arguments to their political platform. After all, how could your opponents know better than god? The problem is these people are just delusional, god is *not* telling them how to run the country. Electing people like this is a dangerous game.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Margaret

      I agree, keep your religion to yourself. When somebody says God told me to run, and things like I will have the biggest pulpit in the world, I worry. This is a multicultural nation like it or not. If I want to hear a sermon I will attend the church, synagogue, coven, or mosque of my choice. I want a president who will lead, handle foreign policy, and be fair, not a pastor. If Parry or any of the others want a flock either become shepherds, or start a church, stay out of politics.

      November 6, 2011 at 4:51 am |
  10. MaryM

    You gotta wonder what that mission is? I really dont think anyone knows including Perry.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  11. Bootyfunk

    Please transport me to the future where the cult of Christianity is just another mythology, a subject to be studied, but not actually believed. Yahweh can go the way of Zues, Odin + Ra. Actually, those gods made much more sense...

    November 6, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  12. Marge

    Why is it that only the extremist religious people think they should be president. Thomas Jefferson was on of the founding fathers, along with several others who said that the state and church should not mix. Their beliefs have carried us pretty darn good all these years. And it is a shame that these religious nuts want to take over our government with religion. And what in the world makes them think that every body wants to be religious or belief in their religion. There are plenty of Wiccans, Jewish, Asian and other faiths in this country. LEAVE YOUR DARN RELIGION OUT OF THE PRESIDENCY.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:43 am |
    • Phil

      Because people actually believe that the country was founded "under god"...

      Under god needs to be removed from the pledge. (Added late 1800's)
      In god we trust needs to be removed from currency. (Added around the mid 1950's)

      Those were added LONG after this country was founded.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  13. paganguy

    I do not care what your religious beliefs are; however if you have fallen for the religious hocus-pocus, you are not fit to be president or senator or congressman. Religions divide people into groups hating each others. Let's stop the crusaders; we don't need the Billy Grahams' running al over the world, making a bad name for the decent Americans. If you promise after-life for money, you should go to jail.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  14. Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

    The use of a prayer service for political gain is blasphemy. The GOP has a problem patronizing God and the Bible for political gain. It will be resolved on Judgment Day.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • Huh?

      You just judged about blasphemy, pal.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Mirosal

      If by "judgement day" you mean "election day", that will happen. If you are talking about being dead, and yet you are standing tall while some mythical mystical magical sky-fairy tells me whether I'm worthy of reward in "his" eyes, you need to re-think that one.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Phil

      Judgement day will never arrive...ever. Perry will only damage the country with his "faith" and "beliefs" because he can't seem to separate church and state.

      Prayers never serve a purpose but to pacify the person praying. When their prayers aren't answered, they think either god is too busy or has better things to do....or they're not worthy of the attention to god. But when the laws of probability work in their favor they proclaim it was a miracle. That little voice you think is god talking back to you - it's yourself you're hearing...not some magical all powerful being that doesn't actually exist.

      He's not on a mission from god. He's on a mission from himself to do whatever he pleases.

      If people elect this moron, we're doomed...

      November 6, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      I am da judge

      November 6, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Hypatia

      You and God can wait for your supposed Apocalypse. I'd prefer to make sure that this idiot never wins office now.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  15. LoL

    I LoL'd thoroughly

    November 6, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  16. Phil

    Elect an atheist - they'll get more done cause they're not busy praying all the time.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • AJ

      Plus I wonder when he is reading the bible everyday which books and newspapers is he not reading.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  17. scott

    That's original.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  18. Cambob

    Rick is on a mission from God. Bachmann is on a mission from God. Charles Manson was on a mission from God. At least Herman Mcain is in it just to sell books.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      The Blues Brothers were also on a mission from God, remember? 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Mirosal

      oh, and don't forget, according to Romney's beliefs, one day he WILL be a "god" lol

      November 6, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  19. matthouston

    How did that prayer meeting in Houston do for the nation's chrisis Rick? Oh yeah...diddly squat. Anyone who thinks it is a good idea to hire a guy who's great idea of solving real problems is through prayer groups...that person doesn't deserve to vote.

    Is he gonna pray away the terrorists too? How about pray the gay away? How about pray away pollution? Ya'll need to wake up.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

      Praying for rain is selfish and contrite. God views self-righteous political pandering as a sin.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  20. TranscendtheBS

    I wonder what the mission of God is, that Perry is trying to fulfill? Perhaps the multiple executions give us a hint? I bet he sings the song "This Little Electric Chair of Mine..." I'm still looking for him to love his neighbors as himself...because I have a feeling we'd all feel pretty damn loved. How about the empathy and compassion for the poor, the suffering, the weak. I hope the conservative TeaBaggers such as Perry, choke on the dolla' bills that skew their vision for what Christ's teachings really were about. Their hypocrisy is unrivaled...those who proclaim their faith so loudly and proudly and advocate for policies that are in direct opposition to the poor, the disabled, the weak, the orphans, those in prison, to educating our children, and being good stewards of our environment that GOD has given us. There is a special place reserved for people like Perry....TEXAS.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • FedUpTexan

      Yes, the special place reserved for people like Perry is the nuclear waste dump in west Texas near the New Mexico border. Built by Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, owner of Waste Control Specialists and a major Perry campaign donor. The dump consists of trenches dug in the sand and filled with barrels of low-level radioactive waste trucked in from 34 states. At least, we are TOLD that it is low-level waste. When the barrels rust, there is a high probability that rain will cause radiation to seep into the ground. The dump sits close to major aquifers supplying drinking water to 7 states. Perry disregarded numerous environmental studies and reports that advised against building it. He pushed it through so that he could repay a debt to his benefactor, Simmons. I wonder what God said? The thing is, every time Perry is asked to choose between upholding religious principles and making money, money wins. There is no contest. It's no surprise that, if elected president, Perry wants more nuclear power plants built in the U.S.

      November 6, 2011 at 4:26 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.