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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. Colin

    The vacuous-brained evangelical sheep will be lead like a compliant simpleton to do whatever the latest slick-talking leader tells them they should. I am sorry, but dear god evangelicals are stupid. There is no point sugar coating it, they are morons.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Billy

    the fact that this man is even considered a running canidate for the republican party is pathetic.

    Science > Religion
    Up there only sky > Iconic White Man with a long flowing beard shamelessly stolen from the Greeks representation of Zeus to help continue a Patriarchal deity ruler.

    November 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  3. Mikey

    Mission from God my ass. What is with these stupid GOP as s holes. Can we PLAESE take this God bul sh it out of our politics?

    November 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  4. Jeff

    So tired of these hypocrite "god" men. Why he hasn't been outed officially is perplexing. The guy is GAY. No secret to anyone in the gay communities of Texas. I knew people that had trysts with him a few years ago. I could care less one way or another, but these hypocrites need to be called out rather than taking advantage of peoples beliefs.

    Will a real man of god please stand up and stop taking advantage of people?

    I thought we were smarter than this, Why can't we see through these people, or do we not want to?

    November 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  5. Anthony Asaro

    Why is it so important that these candidates on the far right insist upon bragging about their " Christian Values " ?... If they have to brag about their Christian credentials at every turn, as a Christian myself, it makes me wonder about their authenticity!!

    November 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  6. If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

    Isn't it interesting that so many republican candidates have been directly contacted by God to run for president. Since God is all-knowing why would She do that?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Lenny Pincus

      Evidently, God is messing with them.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  7. Floyd Rogers

    How can you stand to say you are a Christian? You are not because you have condemned many people to the death. You are a long way from being Christian my friend. If you were Jesus what would you do as President? Would you campaign to have capital punishment everywhere in the world like all the heathen nations have done and are doing? Jesus came to fulfill the old law and show us a greater light to live by but you are not the one listening and this is not good for any true believer of Christ. Cast the mote from your eye and stop allowing the death chambers like Hitler was doing. We as true Christians do not need another Hitler in our government. We need Christians whom obey God.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • If I had a penny for every stupid Republican I'd be rich!

      Doesn't the Bible say something about an "eye for an eye"?

      November 6, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Rebecca

      It is "cast the PLANK" from your eye.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Burnz

    Terrifying, Americans never learn.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  9. Richard Naylor

    Who thought this article helping Perry play the bible card was a good idea?

    When he got pulled over for speeding by a Texas state highway patrol officer while governor of Texas and asked the Trooper: "Don't you know who I am?' was he seeking God's guidance?

    He is a lifelong politician. Any faith he has will no doubt be used primarily as political leverage in his main goal, higher political office and greater personal power.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  10. Dave in SC

    I believe the thing that worries most non-fundmentals about christians like Perry or Bush is that every move they make gets credited to God and not to personal responsibility. Makes it very easy not to look at themselves in the mirror and accept any blame for poor decisions. "Don't blame me, God told me to do it." Scary to have a leader who won't accept responsibility but has an easy scapegoat by using GOD as the bad guy.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  11. Jeff Jawer

    How does Christianity equal capitalism? Somehow Perry and others on the right have conflated these two distinctly different world views. Wonder where Jesus would stand in worker rights ?

    November 6, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Rebecca

      That is a big shocker to me. I was raised with the Bible, and the equating of worldly success with Christianity is bizarre and cannot be believed if you actually READ the Bible. Having lived in the Bible belt for 30 years, however, I don't believe they actually read the Bible. I think these ideas gain purchase because so few people actually do read the Bible and make a few out of context quotes that htey use for all decisions. An easy example: the quote most used to call women to "submit" to their husbands has a qualifier that I have NEVER heard quoted... she is to submit only insofar as he is "submitting" to Jesus Christ. And on and on. I'm pretty clear that Jesus was either a Socialist or a Communist... never a capitalist or oligarchist.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Capitalism GOP style is ungodly and ridden with greed and hypocrisy. Those who are sitting in the seats of their leadership are equivalent to Pharisees of Jesus' time, of whom He said that they were the whitewashed tombstones, polished outwardly but inwardly full of dead bones.
      They turned their eyes from injustices, committing them through robberies, extortions, loving bribes and honor in public places, yet making up for themselves laws that protect their interests , disregarding the poor, and needy who struggle to survive.
      No one who is sincere , not being willing to pretend and stick his/her head in the sand will be able to deny that today's GOP and their cronies are exactly the the same. And the Mainstream Christianity of this country is so far gone in it's blindness that it can't see it.
      But that happens when people take their eyes of the Lord whom they are supposed to follow and became the followers of men, losing the vision and discernment and its life which Christ promises to those who keep their eyes on Him.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  12. Crdt

    Hey CNN-Good job on this article!

    November 6, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  13. Reflection

    Rainer,

    Look in the mirror, friend. Your 'prophets' are every bit as suspect. There is not a single shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings and events in your books either.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Reflection

      (sorry, wrong spot)

      November 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    The gateway to heaven: sacramental baptism.

    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 2:50 pm |
    • Floyd Rogers

      One must be baptized under the water, completely submersed, with no hands touching the body being baptized after letting them under the water, even no hair is to be above the water line. This is to make sure that the body that is being baptized will be completely free of any energy coming from the baptizers hands. This allows a true unadulterated baptism. If you are held under the water then you are not truly baptized under the water as you are still connected to the air by the hands of the baptizer. Also, Anyone running for President should not have blood stains on their hands such as advocating and allowing death punishments.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      My sisters used to baptize me when we were swimming in the river when we were kids. I strongly suspect that they just wanted to dunk me.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Q

      This carries the same weight of reason as an argument declaring the validity of leprechauns and the certainty of winning their pot of gold if one truly believes and properly catches one...

      November 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Reflection

      Floyd,

      I can never remember if that lucky horseshoe over the door is supposed to point up or down? I just *know* that I am doomed if I get it wrong...

      November 6, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Fix-It

      Floyd,

      The real problem is that they don't stay down there underwater LONG enough - about 30 minutes should do the trick (no scuba cheat either)

      November 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  15. Lenny Pincus

    Yep. Christian leaders. First thing they want to know about is your journey. Does it pass muster? Is it real? Does it conform? Is it good and proper? Is it conservative? You all know. Judging. The very last thing Jesus says you should do. "Judge not." Which means all these elites aren't Christian. Judge not. Christianists have become the lowest common denominator, the self appointed judges of America. And they want their folks in power to make sure the judging gets done. Funny how they say liberals are destroying America, when all they want is a Christian Gilded Age.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Rebecca

      Not a Christian Gilded Age. They want raw power. The power to make all conform to their skewed belief of what the Bible says. I say skewed, because having lived in Texas for 30 years with born agains... I have yet to meet one who has even read the Bible ONCE all the way through. Most haven't even read the New Testament all the way through.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  16. Angel

    It freaks me out to hear Rick Perry repeat the same words George Bush said when he became President. " My being President is like a God mission". We know damn well, as we live it every day, how successful his mission to collapse our country's economy as well as diminish the US status around the planet has been. Since they, Perry and Bush, are friends, it scares me to think, like in the movie Trading Places, with Dan Akroid and Eddy Murphy, when the brother of the make a $1.00 bet in the bathroom that Eddy murphy would fail like winthrop did. Perry's bet with Gerogy boy is probably similar in that they're betting which one will make the most damage to the US.

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

      those concerned about bush and perry and bachmann combining politics and religion should also be very concerned about obama. obama has only supported those leaders in the middle east that combine politics and religion. in islam, that is called sharia law. obama struck a deal early in the fake young egyptian revolution with the muslim brotherhood and military council. libyan tnc that obama put in power are the ones who fought american soldiers in iraq and have more blood in their hands than qaddafi ever had and would have had. the problem w/ obama is that he favors radical islam and he wants all governments to operate in that radical manner. democrats, out of love of their messiah and prophet of democratic party will support anything obama says or does and whatever he does behind their backs.

      November 6, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  17. maude

    Somebody needs to tally by banana !

    November 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  18. Andrew Smith

    Perry, like all right-wing Christians, is an imbecile. Writing anything more is a ridiculous.waste of time.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Dave

      Well said Andrew. Right to the point!

      November 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  19. 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 2:45 pm |
    • Floyd Rogers

      Remember this my friend. Jesus said if you call out my name or on my name, even if you are dead, you shall live. I assume you will stay alive instead of being dead. Now, have you ever experienced any thing you could not explain? Maybe you will have to call out on Jesus some day in some peril you get in. Remember that ok. He was real and he did die trying to convince evil men to be better and love one another but as you see he died a horrible death at the hands of executioners. Perry is one of them as he advocates death penalties instead of forgiveness and long suffering.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • tsan

      Its always easier to not believe.... No Jesus is not in an unmarked grave...yes he does live and yes he is coming back. To believe in anything other is foolishness, read the bible, study, we are living in the last days, and no matter who is running for president, what is written is what is going to happen, as it has been for some time... so when our time comes the Lord is not going to ask, did you run for president? what religion did you follow? Live the life that he has always wanted us to live, according to his words, and commandments. living any other way will only get you going in the opposite direction. Theres too much proof God exists and his spirit lives in us once we except him into our lives.

      November 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  20. Rainer Braendlein

    @maude

    Probably Muhammad made-up the Koran, in order to unite the Arabic tribes or gangs for a war against the Holy Empire Byzantium. Muhammad created a somewhat undefined belief. It was merely about making a special own belief for the Arabs, which kept them seperate from the Christian Romans and the Jews. By establishing a strong monotheism Muhammad seperated the Arabs from the Christians of the Roman Empire. By claiming that Jesus would be indeed the Messiah, he seperated the Arabs from the Jews, who rejected Jesus. Muhammad really had a demonic cunning, which enabled him to establish his religion of death, terrorism and sorrow. Like the elderly yet said, Islam is the religion of bloodshed. Bloodshed is all about Islam. There was no truth in the prophet.

    November 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Eastern Orthodox. To answer your question earlier.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Reflection

      Rainer,
      (repost)

      Look in the mirror, friend. Your 'prophets' are every bit as suspect. There is not a single shred of verified evidence for the supernatural beings and events in your books either.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • maude

      Oh my god ! Infidel ! You can make that kind of conlusion about any religion. All religion was created by the elite to control the masses with fear. Don't get me wrong, I do believe in a supreme being. This muslim/christian/hindu/jewish thing is full of hate & anger. So many contradictions (where to begin).

      Just be nice and you will be fine.

      November 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • tina

      bloodshed is also the heart of judaism. like islam, judasim is also about hating jesus and imposing their world order upon the rest of the world. why do you think hitler came and the jews chose to go to palestine in the 1940's knowing they would clash with the arabs resulting in another holocaust? of course, the jews are lying they went to palestine to prevent another holocaust, in fact they want another holocaust and hence they went straight into the arms of muslims and abused them to stire up animosity that gave rise to terrorism. the jewish god is all about constant conflict and war – that jewish being can't and won't rest in peace and will not allow anyonelse to do so either. and american christians have chosen to be gentiles so they can also worship the jewish god by being jewish christians (like perry and bachmann and bush).

      November 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Patrick Williams

      Thank you!

      November 6, 2011 at 3:05 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.