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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. vivian m

    Yes, his "God" told him it would be a good political move for Perry is he allowed an innocent man to be executed. Praise the Lord!
    Now THAT is what Jesus would do.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Mike-Bell

      Everyone has some means to rationalize their insanity.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
  2. carlos

    the parrys can keep their religion to themselves, I do not want any part of it......such fakes.
    And why waste so much space on this article????....yeah, GO LSU

    November 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Mike-Bell

      It's amazing how many churches start because some minister gains a cult following.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  3. Matt

    There is no god... So stop worrying and enjoy life 🙂

    November 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Mike-Bell

      Whatever you have your heart set upon; that is your God.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
    • Hiram

      "Perry’s effortless fusion of faith and politics..." THAT'S what scares me. He seems to be attempting to Fuse, (rather than Separate) Church and State, as he tries to rewrite American History by making the utterly false claim that this Country was built on "Christian Values". (Pray tell, Rick... Just how do your "Christian Values" differ, Civilly, from any others ?)

      I consider this man a great Danger to this Country. He's either a very confused man (jumping between Methodism and the Baptists points to this outcome, but then, I'm trying to be Christian), or an outright obfuscator, who realizes how to play both sides. No matter... he's simply not Presidential Material, with all that Garbage on his back.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Hiram

      Whatever Path you find yourself on, Follow it with a Full Heart.
      –Confucius

      November 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  4. ADRIENNE

    Since three candidates claim that God told them to run for President, at least two of them have been hearing voices from the wrong man.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Mike-Bell

      If people aren't hearing voices; they're not thinking.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Snap

      Gods cool like that, he can say three different things all in opposition to one another and still be correct.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  5. MARIVS_MARIVS

    Ludicrous. Demagogy.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  6. Mike-Bell

    "In God We Trust" because no politician or tyrant deserves it.
    The generic definition of God is whatever enduring principles one follows to conduct one's day to day living. Whether that be a belief in a Benevolent or Punitive Deity, an 'Enduring Principle of Civility', or something that someone has their heart set upon.
    The statement does not endorse a specific religion. It underscores the fact that whatever guiding principles one has; those enduring principles 'should' be contributing to the respect of our national diversity and civility that protects our liberty. For one to claim that 'their' God is the God referred to is seeking to subvert liberty; since doing so is an effort to oppress others.
    We need to protect our adherence to universal respect and civility. To yield to any one person, religion, faith, for ideology will destroy our Liberty. And that includes any 'Social Doctrine' imposed upon us with the zeal of making it our 'State Religion'.
    So yes. "In God We Trust" because no 'One' or 'Faction' deserves or should posses it on behalf of our nation or our citizens as a whole.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  7. Beatriss Scatolakis

    The world needs another mean-spirited, self-centered, egotistical religious zealot like it needs a nuclear meltdown.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • VegasRage

      Amen! (No pun intended)

      November 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
    • vivian m

      Love you, Bea!

      November 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Snap

      I make it a point to never vote for anyone who feels that God has spoken to them in any form or fashion in context to deciding to run. That is the exact insanity that turns me off from Christianity. It teaches people to "believe" they are talking to their own sub-conscious and then attributing what it says to be the divine's thoughts. You guys are ALL insane that do this.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  8. popeye1128

    So sick of Christianity being injected into everything, including politics, in this country. I think Jesus was a real guy with some very awesome ideas for his time. I don't really want my politicians following any one ideology as the end all, be all though.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • VegasRage

      I don't think these people are anything like Jesus was.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Martin

      Jesus injected His religion into everything he did.

      November 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  9. OvernOut

    Parade Magazine said that Perry & wife were high school sweethearts, yet they did not get married until some 13 years after graduation. Did they really just date all that time? I realize he was in college & the military, but why the 13-year wait?

    November 6, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  10. Beatriss Scatolakis

    The world need one more crackpot on a mission from God, doesn't it? Why does God need Rick Perry or Ahmadinnejad or any of the others, to speak on his/her behalf???

    Such crap!

    November 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  11. JimAR

    A man who uses the name of Jesus to advance his own ambitions is going to have a lot to answer for someday. Of course, it could be that he is really an atheist and has no genuine interest in the teachings of the Christ.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  12. Patrick Williams

    I am 46 years old, retired from the Air Force after almost 21 years and I used to be a Republican for most of my life.

    I became an Independent around 40 or so (while Bush was in office on his second term – I voted for him the first time, sorry everyone).

    I cannot stand the ultra-right wing hijacking of the GOP and of Christianity! They have ruined both!

    We need a sane, moderate and well-balanced leader who represents the average American and Perry is NOT the person for that (any hard-right, ultra-fundamentalist is not the person).

    We need a third party called the "American" party that represents the average, moderate, sane American.

    Since that does not exist yet, I am either for Mitt Romney or Obama (and I am not crazy about Obama but at least he is trying to end the wars and will not get our children killed in senseless wars that "God" directs him to start).

    November 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • popeye1128

      A 57 year old Air Force retiree here. I was a raging Republican at one time now more middle leaning left.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Me too...That is why when TEA Party people tell me "you don't understand" it could not be further from the truth because I was one of them at one time (well, not TEA Party, but a Republican).

      My wife is still a moderate-Republican and voted for Obama the last election, I think.

      I just cannot take the self-righteousness and mean-spiritedness of the hard-right (not moderate) GOP.

      I am for Obama again if Perry goes up because I, at least, know what I am getting. Perry would be a lose cannon and probably get us into more war! AMAZING. (only people who have never fought a war think it is "godly" or good to do – War is h*ll and everyone loses in the end)

      November 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  13. dave

    Hello to people reading up in the sky flying in a airplane

    November 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  14. Mr. M

    Osama Bin Ladin believed he was on a mission from God too.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  15. grumpy

    If god liked Perry he would have ended the drought.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  16. Robert Matthews

    •He's too mean. He'll have a hard time pretending he's any kind of compassionate conservative, and outside of Texas you still need a bit of that. Aside from being politically ruthless and famous for holding grudges, Perry's the kind of guy who almost certainly executed an innocent man, never pretended to care about it, and brazenly disbanded a commission investigating it. This famously produced the following quote in a 2010 focus group: “It takes balls to execute an innocent man.” In Texas, maybe that works. In the rest of the country, not so much.
    •He's too dumb. Go ahead, call me an elitist. I'm keenly aware that Americans don't vote for presidents based on their SAT scores, but everything I've read about Perry suggests that he's a genuinely dim kind of guy. Not just incurious or too sure about his gut feelings, like George Bush, but simply not bright enough to handle the demands of the Oval Office. Americans might not care if their presidents are geniuses, but there's a limit to how doltish they can be too.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Very good post.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  17. Bill

    I'm pretty sure God is powerful enough, that if he wanted the USA to go in a certain direction, he wouldn't have to tell someone like Perry to run for President.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Logic

      you're damn right. Odin would obviously have sent Thor, the son of the one true god, to bring his message. He would not go through a mere mortal like Rick Perry.

      November 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  18. free2do

    Perry really looked like a good christian when he just about threw punches at Romney.......He's a politician, AKA , Slime bag.

    November 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  19. Logic

    hahahahahahahahhhaahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    oh wait....he's serious

    November 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  20. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    Good for you, Patrick Williams. That is a valuable message. Rest assured, however, that at least 95% of the many people in my large extended family and wide circle of friends here in Denver and elsewhere are going to vote Democratic, as they always do. I don't know what all this stuff is about older people being more conservative than young ones. My husband and I are 68 and 65, and the most passionate, committed liberals we know are in our age group. If it is true that young people today are generally more liberal than their elders, then I think there is real hope for the future. The near future, though, may be a different matter, if we are not careful. Some real nuts (i.e., right-wing fundamentalist crazies) could begin to dominate government. Yes, we moderates and left-wingers HAVE to make our voices heard and vote. And before that, we need to give money to the moderate and liberal candidates we favor - even if we are now living wholly or mainly on Social Security, as my husband I are now doing. Obama/Biden 2012!

    November 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Logic

      well said

      November 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Patrick Williams

      Well written. I am all for Obama – at least he will not be getting our children and grand-children killed in senseless and endless wars.

      PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE – round all your friends up and get them to VOTE. I think the hard-right is going to be mobilized and the moderates and liberals need to ban together and counter that with a strong surge of voting (I would go with Obama). Please network and get the word out!

      November 6, 2011 at 5:48 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.