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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. webspy

    And the Lord said in a BOOMING Voice quote: "Lets have another drunk from Texas run things, so more people turn to me"

    November 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  2. Jon

    Presidential candidates should never make "faith" a center piece of their campaign. It is very dangerous when people start voting for someone just because he says the word "God" more often than someone else.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  3. jerry walters

    What a crock! This guy is such a phony - not even good enough for a blues brother. Mission from God my butt. PHONY and dumb too.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  4. Chuck The Canuck

    No wonder the US is slowly circling the bowl. Only in America, does the electorate base its decision on the favoured religious delusion of the candidates.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Fantasy is only effective until it's held up to reality. Right now America is getting a big dose of reality and the fairy tales are crumbling faster than the infrastructure.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • webspy

      Harper really, Canada bought and paid for!

      November 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • webspy

      How do you take over a pathetic country like Canada...without firing a shot,, buy up all their icons sports teams,,,hell the copyright to the mounties belong to Disney thus Dudley due right,,, oh and we will have the north and tell you what planes we want you to destroy, pathetic

      November 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  5. Kebos

    Rick Perry would worship the devil if it would get him more votes!

    Honestly, Americans will be the laughing stock of the world if they pick this guy as their leader.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Chuck The Canuck

      America became the laughingstock of the world during the Bush years. The US used to be a country populated by larger than life heroes. Now, it appears to be populated by ill tempered sheep.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  6. Albert

    This is nothing more than a ploy to get other false Christian sheep to vote for him. Is God also telling him to lie? What a joke.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  7. Marik7

    It must be difficult to think that the Creator of the Universe has YOU in mind to be President of the United States. It shows incredible humility.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  8. Albert

    Just another false prophet. Jesus was not a politician. He said he followers were to pray for God's kingdom. Christianity as we know it is evil and far removed from anything the Bible teaches.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, the bible teaches great stuff like killing and burning animals to please god. Jesus did say the OT laws still have to be obeyed. But maybe Perry supports that, since he likes executions so much.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  9. Km332

    Come on...Be Serious. Perry is an egotistical, self interested, idiot. I rank his commitment to faith about as high as his intellectual ability, "moderate" to sub-par. Perry got LUCKY, but Texas is catching up to the rest of the country. As it is losing the Federal Jobs created under Bush, the Texas economy will wilt too. Lets See, Texas has rolling brown outs and needs to buy electricity energy from Mexico (its not tied into the national grid so it can avoid federal reg); it has water shortages; and has severe gridlock. Bush had plans that addressed all of this stuff, but Perry messed it up. When Texas had a plan to build a transportation corridor that would have a highway with utility corridor along side, Perry refused to make it happen and tried to sneak toll roads in, to fund the plan. He couldn't make any of these things happen because he doesn't work well with his legislators. His number one commitment is to his self image, and he does want to mix politics with an evangelical flavor. (What an insult to christians)

    But I applaud his eagerness to show what an idiot he is, to the national stage. An article on his Pius beliefs? Man I would donate a lot of money if he would promise to go on a religious pilgrimage and NEVER return. It would greatly benefit Texas too.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  10. LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

    Perry believes that the world will end (end-timer) how is this forward thinking? I'm personally tied of having a doomsday believer running my country into the ground. NO MODERN CHRISTIANS wanted, unless they are on a wanted poster. Jesus's message gives us "hope" and for that message they nailed him on a cross. The church is against liberal thought but If Jesus came back he'd run them out like the rats they are. I'm a follower of Jesus but NOT A Christian, and while I feel sorry for their confusion ..its up to them to wake up..."many will be called but few chosen".

    November 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • kimsland

      "many will be called but few chosen".
      You believe that billions of children around the world will be sent to a damnation in heII ?
      Not forgetting the many millions who are presently in HeII
      Come on, seriously? That's funny

      November 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • LittleLordHoseaComethUntoU2Say

      kimsland, Again I AM NOT a christian, therefore I do not believe in hell. This is more nonsense from the church of the doomsayers. I'm sure you're confused so you will be counted as the many unless you wake up.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • kimsland

      Look believing in god but not the bible
      And believing in god but not church
      And believing in god but not creation
      Although is better than your average christian, is STILL very mixed up.

      If you ask an ant to make their way down to the shops, lots of bread crumbs there.
      The ant won't even understand you, even if you try to put it in the best ant language science can buy.
      So if you ask a human how can space end, but at the same time never end (ie both very logical) they don't understand either, that does not mean there is a god, that just means our brain is not smart enough or developed enough to fully comprehend start and end. It certainly does not mean there is a god, that's just rubbish.

      God (originally, without church etc etc etc) was made up because its scary to die, that's it .

      November 6, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  11. kimsland

    I am the great and powerful... Wizard of Oz.
    Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

    November 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Bob

      and you just know that Newt G is vying to be that evil man behind the curtain all over again.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  12. Rich

    Pat Robertson once said on tv that god doesn't hear the prayers of Jews or Catholics.Fits right in with the born agains that their religion is the only correct one any others are anti christs what ever the H that means...........sad we can't seperate church and state...
    The IRS should start taxing these bible cheats now...maybe they would get the message

    November 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Why wouldn't you believe your religion is the right one?

      Of course Christians believe their religion is the only right one. Jews also believe their religion is the only right one. Muslims believe the same. Why would you follow a religion if you didn't believe it was the only right one? And I don't understand the logic of separating church and state in your comment. Our country believes that the government should stay out of religion thereby giving us the freedom to practice any religion we want. There is no reason why religious people can not be in the government. If an atheist is in the government, he brings his own personal beliefs with him.The most intolerant people in this country are the unreligious.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Gordon

      So the most intolerant people are unreligious. I'd like to see what would happen if an atheist actually tried to run for office and declared that he was an atheist. I'm sure the christians would treat him with total respect!

      November 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  13. Jeff

    Who is the messiah? Obama or Perry? Come on people- which guy is going to SAVE US? hahahahahaha What a JOKE!

    November 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  14. marcus

    Using God's name to claim some kind of providence to run for office is the very definition of a violation of Ten Commandments not to use the Lord's Name in Vain. The hypocracy is so far beyond, well you know...

    November 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Bob

      although god doesn't exist, so it's not like he actually gives a sh!t.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Mike A

    I find it a bit disturbing that we would allow someone to potentially run our country with such a high level of religious conviction. The real danger here is that instead of doing what is in the best interest for our population, they will make decisions placing first their religious beliefs and then whatever else would fall into place. The thought of someone like this in office is palling. It's time for us to grow up as a nation and dispense with these baseless belief systems.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • MENGISTU

      I agree that there needs to be some separation of church and state, but look at the name above, and remember names like Hitler Stalin and Mao all glorified in the name of atheism and science and equality, and they were a catastrophe! I am a Christian, I did not like the fact Perry had the meeting at Reliant Stadium, or the comments made to Mitt, but as an older person, which you are probably not, you do not remember the Khmer Rouge or the Cultural Revolution or the bread lines in Russia, or the purge of Eritrea and Tigre (just a few) atheistic oppressive societies with little hope or caring. You also probably do not remember a time, but I do, where we had close families, where you never had rampage killers, where we had moral support systems that are superior to now, where we had ethics, where hard work and fairness got you ahead, etc. What we need now is Civil discourse where the 20th century meets the 21st. Perry is not going to win anyhow – I am appalled at how he has performed. I will give you an additional caveat on them – I am not certain how religious they are or if this is something new – he backed Juliani in 2008, and church people were angry over him and Donna Hanover and Judy Nathan.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • adam

      name ONE president we've ever had, EVER, that wasn't religiou

      November 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Miss Demeanor

      RE: "name ONE president we've ever had, EVER, that wasn't religiou[s]..."
      Cult-followers are religious. What is your point? Do you mean pious? I can name a bunch who aren't. Do you mean who aren't Christians but were Deists (who did NOT believe divine revelations occurred) ? I can name a few. Do you mean evangelical buffoons who beleve god put the US in charge of world affairs to bring about biblical stories taken out of historical context because of ignorance and mistakenly taken to be prophecy? There's a few of those too. Do we need an easily brainwashed buffoon leading us into another war like Iraq?

      November 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  16. Anne

    Dan Gilgoff has not spent any time actually around Rick Perry and if he had, he wouldn't be writing what is without doubt one of the biggest 'joke' articles ever written. The people of faith who struggle every day to live their lives for others do not deserve to have this clown tell us that this clown is a man of faith. The only thing Rick Perry believes in is Rick Perry and if Dan is so fond of him, for Christ's sake, move to Texas and cast your 'entire' lot with us here and see how much Jesus means to this, this, well, him.

    November 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Bob

      The people of faith would do well to examine why they believe fairy tales with no evidence to support them. Not surprising that they are the ones most prone to voting for wingnuts like Perry.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • jonathan

      I have an abundance of evidence........ @ Bob

      it's called the Holy Spirit , which Jesus promised from the beginning..those who go without this evidence create an image of pretense.... but it is not our problem but those who look at them,,... 🙂 🙂 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • Bob

      AJonathon. That's not evidence, stupid. That's hearsay. Get a fscking brain.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Bob

      @Jonathon. That's not evidence, stupid. That's hearsay. Get a fscking brain.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  17. Rich

    If Rick didn't limit health care in Texas he could get help for the voices in his head and all the people that fall for his nonsence could also get treatment but they would rather go with no health care if the tea baggere and Koch bros say they should.Rick can widen his base more if he dismantles the dept of education...

    November 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
  18. Mike Buck

    Is Perry from Wacko, Texas?

    November 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Bob

      you betcha.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
  19. kimsland

    Perry god is not real, and so isn't your election

    November 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • John

      Is this really how you form sentences?

      November 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  20. Jeb

    Let's look at all the Republicans that have said that God told them to run:

    1. Perry
    2. Cain
    3. Bachman
    4. Santorum

    Is God confused or are these people crazy?

    November 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • marcus

      Are you forgeting Palin, Bush, Pat Robertson.... THis is the republiTaliban party

      November 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • ashrakay

      maybe a little of both.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • jonathan

      Maybe God still wants you to have a choice 🙂 🙂
      you open yourself up with un-thought out responses.. 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Albert

      For those searching for the "Truth". It is obvious that the people noted above to not have it.

      November 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Slowgun

      @jonathan

      Maybe God still wants you to have a choice

      -----------------------

      Nice to hear God is pro choice.

      November 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • jonathan

      yes God is pro Choice ... he respects your right to choose....but some of his children don't feel the same way...just as you have rights and choices so do they..and they want to limit your right to make a choice.. LOL LOL LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 9:19 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.