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. Witchy Woman

    Christianity is about more than pro-life or wiping out abortion. I believe the Christian thing to do would be to help the young woman who is pregnant find proper medical care so that she can birth a healthy baby, or perhaps even show her that there are ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. (If God didn't want us to have birth control, he would not have given us the intelligence to develop it, after all.) Christianity is about helping people who can't help themselves, for whatever reason. Christianity is about doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is. None of the Republican candidates want to do anything to help those less fortunate. So they, in my opinion, are not real Christians. Furthermore....a person who has a mission from God generally just goes about carrying out the mission. The person who announces he is on a mission from God should be avoided, for he is manipulative and highly suspect.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jeb

      The greatest accomplishment of the Evangelical movement is convincing millions of people that selfishness, greed, hate, and war are Christian virtues.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by Witchy Woman contains the No True Scotsman fallacy


      November 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Bob

      @Witchy, yeah a lot of people still do those goat killings and burnings as the bible tells them to, and they don't make a fuss about it. They just sprinkle the blood, light the match, and god gets all happy from the smell and might not smite them.

      (Jesus said the OT laws still apply, so don't claim they don't.)

      November 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  2. ithink122

    “Even if one goes along with the atheists’ argument that life evolved from previous forms,” Perry writes, “where did the previous forms come from?”

    This only proves that you read the first sentence of the textbook and no further. Perhaps if you KEEP READING, you will find they do answer that question. But I know those pesky facts always manage to get in the way.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  3. ithink122

    “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.)”

    You have presided over 234 executions as the governor of Texas. There is dispute over whether a fetus can be considered a person, but no one is disputing that inmates in prison facing execution are people, even if we don’t like what they’ve done. Did YOU meet each one right before they were executed and look them in the eyes?

    November 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • Bob

      Great post about a horrible subject.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • william london

      An interesting thought. The "right" loves laws. Perhaps there should be a "law" that a Governor must visit a death row inmate, personally, before execution be implemented and verbally announce their fate..

      November 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
  4. ProperVillain

    I think it is vulgar to tout your faith as political tool. If you are truly a believer in Christ, or any god for that matter, you will shut your mouth and let your actions speak for you. How politicians use religion, and the church in general, sickens me.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  5. evensteven

    The last time a guy from Texas said that God told him to run for President, we had kind of a bumpy ride as a country when he won the election with support from Christians . . .

    November 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  6. ithink122

    “’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.”

    “I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

    “’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.’”

    HE says God told him. You would notice that if you actually read the statements of the man you are supporting.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  7. ithink122

    “’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.’”

    So you listen to an invisible man in the sky and you do the things he tells you to do even though you don’t want to. Well, I guess that’s not too strange. Many people display symptoms like this. Of course, most of them are confined to mental care facilities and have been officially diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • MagnumPIE

      Hey, just think how interesting it could be...like electing the Zodiac Killer (he listened to the neighbor's talking dog).

      November 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  8. Bob

    Why is it when a poor person hears voices to tell him to do things, we lock him up and call him crazy while at the same time if a rich, white person says that we say "he's been called by God"? Did God tell Rick Perry that he called other people (like Michelle Bachmann) to run for President? Is God two-timing or is one (or both) of them just plain crazy? Did God tell Rick Perry how to take his state from the middle in terms of standard of living and education to the bottom? Did God tell Rick Perry to execute an innocent man and then cover it up in order to avoid embarrassment? If he did all that, God sounds like a dick.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Alicia

      Couldn't agree more Faith! I knew lots of friends gonwirg up though that had great christian parent, attended church regularly and still fell away from the church. If I take my kids to a baseball game, it does not make them baseball players. I believe that having your kids in big church regularly teaches them that its okay to disconnect and that church can be boring. Could it be that what is being taught is not life applicable enough? Could it be that you cannot learn to serve your parents God with out it being your own? Could it be that perhaps the church needs to rethink their strategy? Yes, the question was directed at what the "Church" should do. I believe the problem may lay though that Parents too heavily assume the church is doing the right thing and teaching the right way. Again, the "this is the way we've always done it" approach. This topic should be discussed more often amongst parents! Keep the Convo going ladies! : )

      May 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  9. Jeb

    Looks like Republicans have cornered the market on stupid AND crazy.

    If you want some, you have to go to them.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, they got quite the suite of religionuts in the current crop of candidates. Incredible stuff.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  10. Hopalong

    If he were religious like he says then why doesn't he give to his church. Look up his reported income and how meager his contribution have been. His tax records indicate an unusually large amount of clothes donations and to charity and very little amount of cash. Look it up in Google if you doubt it.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Phil

      There is a neighborhood within 1/2 a mile from me that has homes in excess of $4,500,000. Nearly every one of them are owned by a "church". None of the homeowners actually runs a church, but it gets them from paying much if anything in taxes.

      Personally, I'm tired of religion ruining things.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Chad

      I'm surprised I would have expected much much better, but you are correct.. one year he gave 12% but in most years it was in the 3-4% range.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Bob

      It's great when people don't give money to churche$.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
  11. Phil

    He's on his own mission because as many people have said, including myself - god isn't real. He's only trying to get votes from the idiots.

    We're going to be doomed if he gets elected. He'll throw the country back to the middle ages. Oh and let's not forget that he openly admits he loves executing blacks...if you're black, you should probably be in jail.

    Remember, this is the guy that had ni(gg)er head painted on the hunting camp.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  12. LiLaLo

    Nearly every canidate claims he got a mission from god.

    If there was a god he either hates us all, is looking for comedy, or both.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Fnordz

      Somehow they think they're all right, but it's a zero-sum game. They can't be all right.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • LiLaLo


      They're all playing on people's religious feelings like a piano. For their own selfish interests.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  13. what

    The last President that heard God sent us to war. Really, God wanted you to bomb for peace, fantastic! This guy is just covering up his drunken ridiculous speech with more ridiculous talk I've been on this earth for 39 years, God has never spoken to me. Why, because God is imaginary! In business it is not proper to discuss religion or politics, why is religion always mentioned in politics. I would never vote for this man and honestly, all of the candidates are horrible. Publicly Funded Elections! We've got to take our country back.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Tristan

    While I'm glad there is a Christian tone to the voice of who might one day be president it concerns me because of his ties to the New Apostolic Reformation. These are in NO way Christian leaders. They are cult members that are whispering in Perry's ear that he is now blessed and prophesied to become the next great leader. Their semi-secret mission from God is drawn out in a new doctrine of the bible that roots from heresy. You can learn more in this facebook group or just email me. The FB group is called "JOEL'S ARMY & THE STRONG DELUSION – New Apostolic Reformation WATCH" and we will be talking about Rick Perry and his links to these apostolic leaders of self proclaimed prophets.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Tristan's post contains the No True Scotsman fallacy.


      November 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  15. tony

    If Jesus had discovered oil in Bethlehem, he wouldn't have bothered with the rest of us. . . . .

    November 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  16. Steve

    I can’t wait for the day that politicians take note of the numbers of non-believers that for years have been far too quiet to speak up about this kind of BS… The separation of church and state means a lot to me and who I vote for (or against)… I don’t mind people having different faiths, but when they start to “Govern” by their faith, they become nothing but a sidewalk preacher to me and I know a lot of people that feel the same.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Religious con men and political con men are just 2 sides of the same coin.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  17. Glenn

    If I have an important job that needs doing I want someone who is doing it for me, not praying for me.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  18. Chris

    Rick Perry is a laughable excuse of a Christian. This idea that his faith journey is big is out of touch with reality. I live in Texas and know his record as our governor. Up until this presidential campaign, he rarely if ever brought up his faith even while running for governor. Now he is just toting it as a tool for getting voters attention. If one is really looking for a purely religious candidate look more toward Rick Santorum or Michelle Bachmann. Ron Paul is even more religious then this guy but he unlike Perry does not use it as a toting chip for voters.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Any christian is a laughable excuse of a thinking mind.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  19. AvdBerg

    GOP Candidate Rick Perry, along with the writer of the above article Dan Gilgoff, CNN Religion Editor, were born in sin (1 Peter 1:23) and unless they repent they will die in their sin (Romans 8:13). They are spiritually blind and do not know what spirit they serve (Luke 9:55). Their faith does not stand in Jesus Christ and the church Rick Perry belongs to (Lake Hills Church) serves after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24). They do service unto them which by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8). As a result of their spiritual blindness they do not know that all the other GOP Candidates are of the same spirit. For a better understanding what it means to be a sinner, we invite you to read the articles ‘What is Sin?’, ‘Victory over Sin’ and ‘Repent’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca.

    The word repent means a lot more than what by nature you have been made to believe. Please study what it means. Concerning the faith of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney we invite you to read the articles ‘Barack Obama ~ President of the United States of America’ and ‘Mormon Church ~ Cult and Spiritual Harlot’.

    Also, to give people a better understanding of the issues that divide this world we invite you to read the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’.

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12). The truth is that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). This is why we call all of mankind to repentance.

    He that is spiritual judgeth (discerneth) all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor. 2:15).

    November 6, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's quite disgusting when you claim that people were "born in sin". No matter what they grow up to be, no child is "born in sin". Stop trying to make people feel guilty for being born. It's immoral and it's a lie.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • AvdBerg


      It is the whole principle behind the problems in this present world. It is what continues to separate man(kind) from the true and living God. Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

      November 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Jeb

      Nut alert.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      AvdBerg, there is no proof of any god ever existing. You are exactly the kind of christian that drives people away from your religion by trying to manipulate the lives of others through guilt and lies. Every comment you make reveals your religion as delusional and empty.

      No child is born in sin. They are simply born. They are clean slates. Stop trying to wipe your own filth on them.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Phil

      Just visit http://www.godisimaginary.com

      All the answers are there. We don't need to continue believing there is a god anymore.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Bob

      AvdBerg is blogspamming CNN with his annoying URL again. Everyone click the Report Abuse link below his post.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • jonathan

      you think122 ? that there are many who have a deep understanding of the universe yet you don't have enough strenght to even get 20 miles above the earth.. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  20. Unrepresented in America

    As a critical, rational thinker with a deep scientific understanding of the universe, I am completely unrepresented in our supposed representative democracy.

    Fix, please.

    November 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • ZarGoth

      Yep... in the same boat. I'll get someone on that right away.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • SciGuy

      None but God has a deep scientific understanding of the universe. You overrate yourself.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • jonathan

      The first fix is that you need understand that you are virtually ALONE ! 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Hey SciGuy? The very act of posting proves that "Unrepresented in America" exists. That puts him/her ahead of god on the believability scale.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • ithink122

      SciGuy: No, it just means he thinks and uses reasoning and logic to understand the world around him.

      jonathan: No, he's not.

      November 6, 2011 at 6:39 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.