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.


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. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Rick Perry is the poster child for what’s wrong with “Christian” America. He favors the rich, gives them tax breaks while giving the middle finger to the middle-class and says he is a born-again Christian. Jesus would never favor the rich over the poor. Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay his head and had to pay his taxes by finding a coin on a fish from his disciple’s catch. Rick Perry and his Tea Party friends would run Jesus over with a Brinks Security Truck on the way to the Koch Brothers bank laughing all the way.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Martin

      Biblical Generosity is NOT forcing folks at the point of a government gun to be generous, but to convince people that God is right when He calls us to be generous.

      The Bible says "God loves a Cheerful giver". The overburdened taxpayer is NOT a Cheerful giver, but a reluctant slave of the state.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Jan

    We already had 8 years (horrible years) of a person who declared they were chosen by God to be president. Do we really need that again? I think not. We're in a big heap of trouble brought on by 20 years of greed that will be hard to overcome. Perry certainly isn't the man to do that. He is a big "Ken" doll...

    November 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  3. What Would Rick Perry Do?

    Inside the mind of Rick Perry:

    "Jesus loves me this I know...for the Bible...No, for God himself tells me soooo.....
    Little conservatives to Him belong, they are powerful for He is strong...
    Yes, Jesus loves me.....Yes, Jesus loves me....Yes, Jesus loves me...
    For God talks to me in my brain and tells me so!

    Ah, I'm so glad I am a conservative and not like all those other moron, idiot, loser liberals...God hates them!...
    We are so righteous, holy and pure...not like those stupid liberals who pray and say, "God have mercy on my a sinner!" No, we already KNOW God loves us and has our back because we are soooooo conservative! Sooooo Good! Soooo, well, righteous!

    To H*ll with everyone else – God loves the GOP because we are so good!"

    November 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  4. Avser Bastian



    http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec <== OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! These are hard facts about lunatic Obama/Bush's twilight zone administrations(HORROR) or genocide against whites per ZIONIST Washington DC and communist Moscow where new SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO WANNA BE or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN !!!




    Wall street protesters are Obama's raise of the planet Apes army which spread from London per Zionist Washington DC and communist Moscow where Mr. SOVIET UNION NUMBER TWO or new Stalin is in place = PUTIN


    Anonymous !!? REALLY !!?



    GREEK CRISES http://burnbabyburnahaha.blogspot.com

    November 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Fox

      Troll of the year.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • loathstheright

      bye bye.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  5. On the Left Wing

    Didn't God talk to some of the others as well? Is God a flip flopper or are some of these people mistaken about God's intentions?

    November 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  6. Fox

    Perry continues to use God as his sole campaign driver because he has no actual solution for America's problems. He just wants power over more people and force his extremist Evangelist ideals on all Americans, publicly and in their bedrooms.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  7. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    "Rick Perry’s long faith journey culminates in presidential run"

    Mindless drivel. Not equiped to be presidential material. The article is wasted space, the photos are wasted time/effort, the narrative is wasted propaganda.

    November 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  8. What Would Rick Perry Do?

    Inside the mind of Rick Perry:

    God does talk to me and the Apostles and Prophets tell me I am right!

    God told me to run for President and, if elected, bomb the h*ll out of Iran and China. Also, I am to support Israel no matter what they do – even if they pervert justice, I am supposed to ignore that and just accept it because, well, you know – they are God's chosen people and if I mess with them, God will strike even me – his chosen and faithful servant.

    That being said, I think I will attack Syria, Saudi Arabia & Yemen because they don't like Israel and God loves them so I want to be on the right side.

    God, what would you have me do after that? Oh, the economy? Well, I got us in deep, deep debt fightin' all these wars you wanted so now I will have to exempt the Rich from paying ANY taxes and the Corporations too because they are the job creators! OK, I will cater to the Rich...but where can I get revenue from for your wars, God?

    Oh yes, from the poor and middle-class! Yes, I will give them a flat 20% tax so all them lazy b*st*rds pay up!

    Praise the Lord – thank you for your direction!

    God is telling me that hundreds of thousands of your sons and daughters will die but it is OK because I am like the savior of America!

    November 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  9. FedUpTexan

    Why does God speak only to Republicans and the insane? Think about it.

    November 6, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • TJ

      Very well said!

      November 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • jonathan

      I'm not insane...and GW drove me away from Republicanism forever ...the Iraq thing..Yes ! Christianity cannot associate or identify with the invasion in Iraq..

      November 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  10. bonkin

    No CNN Censorship: I did not already make that comment. Post it or don't your fascist swine. Who do you work for this week? Rick, Herman, George W still, Koch bros? Maybe you think I already posted that comment because a million other Americans feel the same way. You can delete my comments all you want. Silencing me doesn't change reality. Americans want a President to do a job for the people, not ON THE PEOPLE!

    November 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • loathstheright

      If the Reichwingers don't like your post the all hit the Report abuse and your post automaticly gets deleted, CNN doesn't even review it.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Eric

    If people feel the need to buy into some form of religious belief to fill their lives...I'm all for it. Having the freedom to dupe yourself for the sake of buffering your fear-of-the-unknown reality of life should be a right for the free. The problem is that the fear-filled, those who deny fact in favor on fantasy religious dogma want to dictate to the rest of us who know better than to buy it that we all must live by their illusions and they are the ones causing us most of our problems.

    Someone as "faith" obsessed as Perry has no business even being considered for President. People who buy into this message are one of two things: 1) a fake using the ploy to win easy votes from sheep like followers told to vote for a "real" Christian or 2) someone who actually believes the nonsense borns from the small minds of men with big egos and a need to control and manipulate others through fear and ignorance. If you belong to this latter group, you have no business being president of a nation that does lead in the world and was born on the premise of "separation of church and state". I am more cynical myself and think Perry is a fake who uses faith to further a political career on behalf of the hidden manipulators of extreme wealth and power. We have all been screwed by those for whom enough is never enough. For whom Capitalism is a private game for their benefit at others expense because playing honestly and fairly doesn't apply to them.
    And the sheep will still back those who destroy the quality of their lives when manipulated by "religion" and its puppetmasters with false messages. Religion distracts people, it sedates the brain and diminishs its capacity to think original thoughts and it keeps intuition from engaging and pushing back against the lies, the abuse, the harm and the evil we allow those who perpetrate the deception to inflict on us. Perry has no business even being considered for POTUS but I wouldn't mind if he got the nomination for the GOP – it would just be that much easier to defeat them in the end. Not that they seem to have one sane, viable candidate left. The GOP seems to have been taken over by real right wingnuts...extremists who are not now and never will be the majority in America.

    November 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Colin

      Well said

      November 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Martin

      Ahh... A true Atheist fundie! Anyone who doesn't believe as I do need not apply for the Presidency.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  12. bonkin

    If I wanted to live in a religious run state with Sharia law I'd move to Iran. I want a President to deal with the economy not my morals or my uterus. I am as much an American citizen as any Christian and want freedom from religion, especially their religion!

    November 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Eric


      November 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Martin

      Bonkin: You live in a free society, and as such you may encounter from time to time people whose beliefs differ from yours.. they even have the right to pass laws you are opposed to, and you will be convicted if you violate those laws.

      Another Atheist fundie.. sheesh!

      November 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Martin

      BTW: There is NO freedom FROM religion..
      .Everyone has a basis for their beliefs (i.e. religion), even if they are too uneducated to articulate it. Atheism IS a religion. It is based on an ASSUMPTION that there is no God. ASSUMPTION is another word... for FAITH.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  13. morpunkt

    Perry is a liar. He does indeed believe Mormons are a cult. He has his minions make the claim, he denies it, but winks in private to them.
    There is no place in the Oval Office for this goon.

    November 6, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Wise Sam

      All true. And mormonism is a cult.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • DL

      And How does Perry intend to win Nevada, Arizona and Colorado after having scared the most reliable Republican Mormon voters to death. He is about the stupidest politician alive. I don't know how he gets to 270 without the Inter-mountain west.

      And just what are we to do when Europe's economy explodes and our financial plan is to drill in Yellowstone? We don't have a chance in this country.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  14. Colin

    Nicholas, have you ever noticed that god always has the same likes, the same dislikes, the same view on morality, the same political view and the same view on what is acceptable $exual conduct as the person who believes in him?

    Every culture that has ever existed has had its gods and they inevitably have the same desires and prejudices as that culture. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours? It is pretty da.mn clear that we create the gods in our image and not visa-versa.

    Why can we see this so clearly with all other gods and yet be so blind to it when it comes to our own particular sky-vapor?

    November 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Question everything

    My gods better than your god, na na nah ne na nah

    November 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  16. Rich

    amen on the fruit cake

    November 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  17. bluemax77

    Holy crap..!! Not another psycho Texan in the White House who talks to God...!! Why are we always the stupid country with clowns like this in government for the world to laugh at – what an embarrassment...! Which way’s Canada…?

    November 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  18. bluemax77

    Another Texas fruit cake...!

    November 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  19. Muhammad

    M here, hey all, my minions will bomb yours as long as you keep buying oil from our dirty smelly countries. We really are dirty people. No more crazy or genocidal than Christians, but just plain dirty. We don't wash our hands after we go number 2, or number 3. And we like little boys as much as priests, but what we like more are suicide vests.

    Keep up on fossil fuels or we will be forces to go back to stoning each other, oh yeah thats in the bible too.


    November 6, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Jesus

      What a goof ! You live in hill's have no teeth yes!

      November 6, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Larry L

    God has been so distracted helping all of those football players with touchdowns, field goals and extra-points he's been too busy to devote much time the the Republican primary. The people he "told" to run for POTUS can't represent his best effort...

    He's also been a little too busy to provide that rain Perry was praying for. However, God did have a little time for some serious "smiting" – floods, tornadoes, huge fires, and Alabama's loss to LSU. That's like "biblical-intensity" smiting...

    November 6, 2011 at 4:33 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.