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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. pkp23

    I am not against religion or any type or lack of religion...but I do believe that government and religion should not mix at all. The US government is supposed to represent the Entire population...by bringing religion into the mix you are alienating a lot of people...and by all means the president can be religious but he/she should not bring religion up as part of a way to get votes

    and this is my personal opinion:
    bringing religion into government has slowed the progress of science/research, made government have control over if gay/lesbian couples could get married or not, and is even beginning to effect public schools. In Texas they have removed Thomas Jefferson from the text books mostly for not being the right kind of religion, and the Texas school board is currently trying to enforce the teaching of creationism in public schools. My opinion is if a school is being funded by the government, religion of Any type should not be taught b/c in public schools there are many different types of people who attend. I believe that it is up to the parent to determine if their child should go to a religious school or a public school. If the parents don't like evolution and want their child to be taught creationism then there are plenty of private schools that child can go to. Me being Hindu I often felt pressured to adhere to Christian beliefs throughout my childhood b/c that is "the norm" in schools in Texas.

    Anyways I have gone on a tangent. To finish, religion and government should be completely separated, religion should be private and should not be discussed/debated to get more votes and they should stick to what really matters which is getting the economy back on track, getting people jobs, and getting corruption out of businesses/government.

    /rant

    November 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Adam

    People need to realize, you don't need to be religious to be a good person. Most good people are non religious and there's alot of bad people in religion.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • hwillis8

      But of course if you wave the flag of religion, you'll get votes and support. Say if you are a presidential candidate with the potential to lose, you'll have a new backing in your old position, and that means more support for your own agendas. Build up a nice nest egg with the cost of honor and dignity.

      Does it seem like politics are a joke nowadays?

      November 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  3. Tripp

    Yet another reason Im not voting for this republican clown or any republican for that matter. I have no respect religious people using their imanginary friend to validate their political goals. I have no respect for religion period. Its time this delusion gets put into the same heap of other gods like Zeus and Thor. Imaginary friends cloud ones mind and makes them look like a nutcase.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  4. Pablo

    Hey, Rick! There's a guy on death row who needs a DNA test. Do you think, since you have such a great rapport with God and you say you're always on the side of life, that you could ask Him what to do? Oh, He's too busy guiding you to the presidency? Yeah, sure, I get it.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  5. Robert Johnson

    So he can't function without the structure and direction of God. Get ready for Ayatollah Rick.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  6. Marty in MA

    We need a presedent who doesn't rely on invisible wizards in the sky, one in touch with REALITY.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  7. Adam

    Who cares what religion a candidate is. Its a free country and if you are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Muslim, if you want to be president then you can be as long as you are born here. Alot of the "good christians" arent even very good people. Racists and idiots who have backward beliefs that people of any other religion aside of their own are heretics, makes me question the difference between their ideology and taliban ideology.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Mike

      Yes Adam like pedophile priest.....this idiot cannot even debate, he is corrupt and now he has found God.....he just an idiot to the core....

      November 6, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • maude

      Never question brother, Just beilive.
      Have faith in god, the everlasting peace and happiness will follow. Don't loose your faith. In these times god is testing you.
      Are u for heaven or do you go back to dust to dust.
      Don't listen to the wicked. Close your mind and eyes to them. Let god sort it out. Perry will make a good leader for his faith is same as mine. His color is same as mine. Oh lord protect our leader from all the rot and the foul. Make him strong and potent so he screw us all.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • hwillis8

      Honestly every well-intentioned religion is an accurate road map to an enlightened society. Problem is, a set of dogmatic rules leaves people weak, rigid, and not apt to change, and most people don't actually follow a moral system in their day to day lives, but proclaim "jesus is the chosen one" "prasie allah" etc.

      I agree with you, every person should have a chance to be president. The sad part is that the people who qualify hide their skeletons better than the people who would actually make a difference.

      What happened to the president who was more than just a figurehead?

      November 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • jeremiah

      There are many religious christians in the US who care a lot whether a candidate is christian when going to vote. That's freedom on religion. Perry failed to score political points when one of his supporters claim mormonism is cult. Perry didn't have to pretend he is knowledgeable about cultism. He's neither a pastor nor theologian. His supporter-pastor knows better than Perry when he said mormonism is cult. Why go against the opinion of the pastor.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Adam

      If this guy gets votes just because he is religious to the extent he might actually have a chance in the race... well it goes to show there are seriously too many primitive Americans out there and the education system is failing...

      November 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  8. abby

    If Rick Perry truly believes God called him to politics, Perry seriously needs help.... starting with some strong psychotropics....

    November 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  9. Steve Damien

    Unless Jesus is teaching courses on Global Economics, Diplomacy, Sociology etc.. this is all just useless zealotry.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • maude

      With a name like Damian, I wouldn't talk !

      November 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • twiddly

      “He said he didn’t want to do it, but he felt the Lord was calling him..."

      Hearing voices in your head and talking to imaginary beings is just mental illness.
      And just because there happens to be millions of brainwashed lemmings believing it doesn't make it true.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Equating the name Damien with a crazy movie like it means something... what the smell?

      November 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  10. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    Here come all the Elmer Gantrys, and the right-wing psychophants, trying to portray this pea-brained, malicious Texan as an angel of light. This is not a "good" man; this is not even a decent man. Just Bush warmed over. Toast. Not gonna make it.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  11. Patrick Williams

    This marriage between politics and religion needs to end – both get corrupted.

    Evangelical Christianity in America has become the "civil" religion of America and has been so watered-down and conformed to society to become "relevant" that it has become "irrelevant" to everyone – it is salt that has lost it's saltiness.

    It grasps for political power but for what purpose? Bush was a "Christian" leader too – and look how that ended?

    Don't take me wrong – Obama has done a terrible job too but at least he is not using violence all around the world as his model of international diplomacy. We cannot afford another Bush-type person in office!

    November 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • hwillis8

      Obama is in a rut that any other president would have to face in this economic situation. One-term in office isn't nearly enough time to alleviate the debt crisis going on, and if I had to choose the lesser of two evils, I'd rather have the guy who has his head on his shoulders, and not the guy with a cross up his backside. No offense, just saying.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      hwillis8 – I agree with you. If I was not clear in my post than I apologize. The only candidate on the GOP side I would consider is Mitt Romney. If he does not get their nomination, than I am supporting Obama.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  12. Mortalc01l

    I don't want a President who is "on a mission" prompted by an invisible Man in the sky.

    I want a President who understands that his one and ONLY goal is to be "on a mission" for THE PEOPLE OF THE USA!!!! His allegiance is to US! Not his personal God; one that many of us do not believe in and who many others deny as God and instead have their own version of.

    Keep your God out of our Politics, you deluded simpleton.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • maude

      Yeah, Amen and priase Allah !

      November 6, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I agree with you Mortal. Religion has no place in our secular government.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  13. Darren Bryant

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

    November 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  14. Agnostic

    Are people confusing religion and faith? Faith is a personal belief. Religion is dogma. What I hear from the nattering nabobs and the self-absorbed blathering sycophants is religious dogma.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • maude

      then you need a hearing aid.
      Jesus will save you. Believe

      November 6, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Proof, Maude. Proof. If you want people to "Believe", provide proof.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Sorry, Maude. I think my snark filter isn't working today.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  15. maude

    Perry went up the mountain and talked to Bush who set himself on fire after last election. The burning Bush gave him commands to adhere to.
    Thou shalt steal, make war on your neigbhors, commit adultry, lie, cheat, gamble, drink....etc.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  16. Rich

    Ricks not a racist you can tell that by the way he named his hunting camp after Herm Cain

    November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  17. Justsayin'

    Now who do you think is going to read all that?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  18. martin

    keep your faith the hell away from me...really God told you to run for President. Well he talked with me this morning and said do not vote for this guy.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  19. rick

    God and guns..nice mix..

    November 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Not You

      No kidding, people want their guns and religious doctrine to run the country go the hell to Afghanistan and see how much they like it. All these people hate the middle east yet want to take the country in the same damned direction.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Rebecca

      God, guns, and the corporate Oligarchy... only possible to those who never read the Bible.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    Perry may haste from one church to another, but he will not escape the confusion about the doctrine of baptism in the US churches.

    There are two competing doctrines on baptism:

    First, the doctrine of the Protestant Church, which is the true one. The Protestant Churches keep the doctrine, which was yet favoured by the Early Church, which was founded by the Lord and the apostles. According to this doctrine, we receive the releasing power of Jesus death and resurrection by faith and baptism. The Holy Spirit causes the faith in us, so that we become able to believe that Jesus died for us on the cross and has borne our sins there. By baptism the power of Jesus death and resurrection is dedicated to us. Our old man of sin dies and we resurrect together with Jesus. God gives us a new righteous life for free. God not merely forgives us, but also gives us a new life. We become righteous in a twofold manner. God puts us in a state of righteousness and at the same time enables us to really live a righteous life. In other words, we get born from above or by Water and Spirit. This is the bath of rebirth, the Holy Fountain. Everybody, who has received the sacramental baptism (a further designation of this divine act), is able to follow Jesus, according to the demands of the Sermon of the Mount. Whereby some exercise will be necessery to escape the carnal desires in the course of time. However, the power to escape the sins of our limbs is present. We just have to apply this power. An old protestant habit, which brings to unfolding the power of baptism is the so-called Protestant fasting. It is not about eating nothing for a period of time, but about eating little or modestly, so that the human flesh gets subdued a little. We will scarcely be able to control our sinful body (se-xuality), when we eat 2kg pork every day. Let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit and we will overcome sin and lust.

    Second, the evangelical doctrine, which is the wrong one. This individuals see baptism as an act of obedience of the believer after he has become a believer. Allegedly at baptism the new believer merely publically confesses his faith and is incorperated in the church. This evangelical doctrine doesn't correspondent neither with the opinion of the Bible nor ecclesiastical history. This doctrine is a bad heresy and must be condemned. The German reformers like Martin Luther have indeed condemned this doctrine.

    By the way, infant baptism is valid. We believe that yet infants are able to believe, because faith is not a matter of our lousy reason, but caused by the divine Holy Spirit. Faith is a supernatural thing, which man cannot produce by nature. Faith is a heavenly present, which is given by the Triune God. Look at John the Baptist, who yet became a believer in the womb of his mother, when he was less than an infant. He was merely an embryo, but the allmighty God gave him the faith, when his mother Elisabeth was visited by the Virgin Mary, who carried Jesus in her womb.

    Conclusion: Everybody, who has received the sacramental baptism, should start to follow Jesus right now. Baptism is a divine call for discipleship. A bapized man, who doesn't want to follow the Lord, will surely become very unhappy, because he denies the divine gift, which the Father has given him.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Good post & explanation.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Patrick Williams

      Which church do you belong to?

      November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • maude

      Give you the divine rod upside your head. Allah is the way to go. Convert now and save your self Christian.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @maude

      WC is the way to go? Ridiculous!

      November 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Rainer – I will tell you if you disclose first....waiting for your reply....

      November 6, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Jah

      Nah... *everyone* knows that Haile Sellasie is the redeemer! Just wait... Reggae Rules. And a little voodoo magic grooves ya'.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Patrick Williams

      I seek.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.