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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. kman02

    I have no problem with a candidate or president sharing his faith. We as Christians are supposed to do just that. However, I do have a problem with a candidate or president wearing his faith as a badge of honor. There is a difference between sharing the word of God and papering yourself with it.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Martin

      2 Cor 10:17But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

      Rom 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,c just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”d"

      November 7, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  2. Evelyn Mills

    Do we really need another governor from Texas, who, while he's not busy making sure Texas leads all other states in "legal" executions (even if the evidence to convict was dubious), is busy telling people God selected him specially to be President of the United States? W invaded a country on false pretenses while bankrupting our economy. Do we really need another Christian zealot?

    November 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • Martin

      Was Pol Pot an atheist zealot? or Stalin? or can atheists even be zealots? Doesn't zealotry just mean a fervent belief?

      Judging from this comment chain, we have some pretty strident atheist zealots around here, who want to make the us religion atheism.
      I as a Christian, want them to run for office and openly espouse whatever they believe, so that all can be plain to see and we can all make our decisions with all knowledge available.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • tallulah13

      Martin? Pol Pot didn't get elected President of the United States, tell everyone that god was directing him, then lie his way into a groundless war while we were already fighting one against a nation that harbored our true enemy. Remember that American President who did do those things? He came from Texas, too.

      Stalin and Pol Pot have nothing to do with who we will elect as President of this country. Stop trying to deflect from the fact that a man (or woman) who claims to speak with god really has no place in running our country.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Martin

      My point was about zealotry.. it's just a word people use to signify that they disagree with someone else..

      It's like each person in the political spectrum calling the others "extremists". It has no value at all, other than saying.. "I really disagree with this person and wish to smear their character in any way I can"
      It is an attempt to marginalize, and it can be effective. Smears do work, but they have nothing to do with policy.

      I am no fan of our wars, but recall that both political parties AND the UN approved the Iraq adventure. Yes Bush was our leader and is primarily responsible, but there were precious few objecting at the time when it counted. Of course everybody and his brother is objecting now.. hypocrites!!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, the U.N. did not approve of our invasion of Iraq. They had already reported that there were no WMDs there, but the U.S. squandered most of the international good will received as result of 911 and ended up invading a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with the events of that day with a handful of allies. Most American approval came as a result of the "evidence" supplied by the Bush administration. Are we not to expect our President to be honest? Yet as events unfolded, it was proven that our christian President was lying, and knew he was lying.

      Bush, like Perry, claimed to be following the will of god. If you can't see the problem you are either stupid or blind. You may deserve to have another disaster for a President, but the rest of the country can't afford it.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Martin

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1441

      November 7, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • TheTruthFairy

      @Martin

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_and_the_Iraq_War

      Idiot

      November 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  3. GBfromOhio

    Another governor from Texas who thinks God is talking to him. How did that work out for all of us last time folks?

    November 6, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  4. BJ Bell

    If Rick Perry's corner man is God, then I'll choose the Devil - so now, a power hungry guy wants to use the religion hustle, I'm not buying it, please - no more dumb Texans in the White House.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  5. MrPragmatic

    Why do persons in positions of power like Rick Pery insist on having people believe in the same imaginary friends they believe in? If you want to have imaginary friends like this god character, that's fine but could you please shut up about it?

    November 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Martin

      Who has insisted you believe anything? Not Perry..

      November 7, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Martin

      The irony here is just cracking me up.....
      Atheists fomenting their fears of some Christian Theocracy, while at the same time insisting Christians "Shutup"..
      That's rich!!!!
      Show me one American Christian Politician who has asked atheists to "Shut up"

      November 7, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  6. 1tonks

    Republicans= Pharisees < Jesus (who didn't even wear himself on his sleeve)

    November 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  7. Josh T

    No I would just say we have very different opinions of what the truth is. And I see nothing wrong with prohibiting comments on his video. Probably just doesn't want inflammatory/malicious comments. Also, let it be known that Rick Perry is an idiot and am in no way supporting him politically by agreeing with him religiously.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • kimsland

      99% of all religious videos on Youtube have comments disabled.
      As for science and Richard Hawkins and all the rest like this, no issue, ALL comments open.

      Religious people are deaf and dumb to common sense.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • kimsland

      Edit: Dawkins.
      Geez, I've watched every single one, and still got his name wrong.
      I suggest you watch them too.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Josh T

      Searched "William Lane Craig" on youtube and clicked the first 6 videos and comments were enabled on all of them. I think 99% is an extreme generalization. And why allow comments when all someone will comment is an insult like "Religious people are deaf and dumb to common sense," instead of actually responding to the argument presented in the video. And I would watch Richard Dawkin's videos if he'd agree to debate William Lane Craig, but he wont. And he has no good reason not to. Watched Christopher Hitchens/Craig debate though – that was pretty good.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
    • saraha

      Kimsland, you are correct. Science opens itself to criticism and begs you to prove it wrong, whereas religion tells you to shut the hell up and believe what you're told.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  8. Blue

    Who in the "Hell" believes this crap? He wants to be president of all of the United Staes. That is a scary thought!

    November 6, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Martin

      Some people believe everything came from nothing, Like Richard Dawkins for example. But the Laws of Physics (Thermodynamics) forbid it.. the Laws which he claims to believe!!???!!

      In the beginning, GOD created Heaven and Earth...

      November 7, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • tallulah13

      Gee, Martin. Which god? I'd love to see your proof. Since no one has ever provided a verifiable scrap of evidence that any god has ever existed, you've been holding out. Share the miracle, Martin. Show your proof.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Martin

      Here is the only proof you will ever have:

      Luke 11:9 (Jesus speaking) “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

      11“Which of you fathers, if your son asks forf a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

      People inherently know and understand, that if they become a Christian and follow Jesus, that their life will change. Things they currently enjoy...sins... will need to stop. But people love their sin. So they run from God not because of some towering intellectual thesis, or some great investigation into the things of God, but because they love their sinful lifestyle.

      John 3:19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

      "People will try anything once.. except Jesus"

      Jesus Christ Changed my life in a moment, and continues to change my life. I have seen incredible things. God WILL show you incredible things, but He will not force you, you must humbly come to Him, He is the Almighty God.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • AlienFactor

      @ Martin – "Thou shalt not have any other gods before me" – a very literal interpretation of this means that this is an acknowledgement that OTHER GODS EXIST. In a pluralistic society that favours no religion over any other, why must only one belief system be followed or acknowledged, and that only followers of this one sect are qualified to lead the country? I'd rather go to Valhalla or the Elysian Fields than Heaven – except for the fact that I am enlightened and don't believe in any of that mysticism whatever the flavour.

      Separation of Church and State means that no matter who is in power, no matter who their supporters are or which religion they follow, religious beliefs are secondary to the secular needs of governing the country without religious bias, for the betterment of all and not just those with similar beliefs.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Martin

      Funny .."I am Enlightened" hehe..

      November 7, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  9. Reagan80

    I thought Perry wanted to be President of Mexico.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  10. Terry Moore

    God, please take Rick Perry into your fold...He has better things to do in heaven than here on Earth among us sinners and atheists and pagans and miscreants and Muslims and druids and ecologists and socialists and humanists and............ Please God don't let such a good man waste his time here... Thanks a bunch.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Martin

      Luke 10: 1After this the Lord appointed seventy-twoa others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • i wonder

      Martin, You think that those things in Luke really happened? Why?

      November 6, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Martin

      Luke 1:1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilleda among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

      Luke was a doctor, and everything he wrote in Luke and Acts, that can be verified historically, has turned out to be 100% true. "He is a historian of the first order" Archeological sites have been discovered by using Lukes notes in the book of Acts. His greek is of the highest quality, he was an educated man.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Martin

      Refer to the great reference book: "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell.

      A person needs to ask himself.. "Why do I refuse to believe in god?" Most of the time, you pride will answer "because I am an educated man that is governed by facts" or some other such ego bloating nonsense. But the real reason is this:

      John 3:19 "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

      November 7, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      Nah, Martin. People don't believe in god because there isn't a speck of evidence that any god has ever existed. I don't know about you, but I don't believe everything I'm told, especially when it's based in supernatural mythology written thousands of years ago. I have a fondness for reality.

      Mankind has invented and eventually outgrown thousands of gods. Yours is just one that currently enjoys popularity. Hinduism is older, so maybe you should start talking nice to Krishna. Just in case.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  11. ostrich

    Is scary that people think that they have a mission from God!? Isn't the same that jihadist and terrorist say??? 🙁 Royalty also believe that they are destined by God to be above the 'people" and dictate religion, life and death in their kingdoms. Isn't that why English, Irish and others migrated to America to run away of those royals and religion oppression? The founding fathers saw that and make laws to separate government and church, to avoid repeat the mistakes of the old world. And now we are starting to have the same here? Next we are going to be condemned if we are not baptists or evangelicals or whatever religion comes on top? Please "give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's and to God what is God's" JESUS. Don't mix it and "don't judge"

    November 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  12. Mike

    God just told me that he thinks Rick Perry is a buttplug.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  13. Mike

    “The life of the secular humanist has a depressing end,” Perry writes in “On My Honor.”

    The life of every human has a depressing end: Some of us accept that, others prefer delusion.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Everett Wallace

    it is the religion thing you keep talkin no one hears you

    November 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  15. Al

    Sing Perry, Bachmann and Romney were all called by god to run for president, which one does he want to win?

    November 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • Al

      Since!! Drat! No edit button. 🙂

      November 6, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  16. Peter

    If God exists, he's either painfully powerless, or he's a creep. What kind of God would allow the atrocities that exist in this world? Oh, let me guess: God works in mysterious ways. Yeah, right. I've got a bridge to sell you. People need to take responsibility for this world rather then cowardly turn to God. Whether God exists or not is of no relevance, because if God does exist, he's decided not to lift a finger for humanity. How pathetic to believe in nothing.

    November 6, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • The Veteran

      Peter: God created mankind with a free will. He wants us to choose Love, not be programmed to love. When you look at this world from a narrow perspective, you forget that we all die. So, it is not a matter of "if," it is a matter of "when." Death is part of life. And for those of us who have placed our Faith in God, and come to understand what true Love is (through Him), we shall have an eternal life in paradise surrounded by Love. For those of us that do not have Faith or His Love, we shall spend an eternity in a place with very little Love at all.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • kimsland

      To The Veteran,

      Ha Ha h ah Ha Ha Ha ha

      November 6, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Pierre

      2 Peter 3:9 – Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desiress all to attain to repentance.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Martin

      It's a little thing called Freedom. Lets say you are infatuated with Angelina Jolie.. and I said I could give her a pill that would make her fall madly in love with you, however, you would be aware. Is it true Love?.. Of course not, it would be empty. God wants us to do what is right not because he forces us (or the US government forces us) but because we have a deep desire to do what is right.

      This deep desire to do what is right is a gift from God..
      Luke ch11:13 "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

      November 6, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Whodathunk

      "God wants us to do what is right not because he forces us "

      1. I'd call the alternative of eternal torture, "forcing".
      2. You have NO idea what any god "wants".

      November 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Martin

      WhodaThunk: I understand your perspective.. I used to be like you. Although I never made the entire leap to atheism, because Omniscience is required to "know" God doesn't exist... I surmised he probably didn't, and decided to "bet" my eternal destiny that He didn't.
      The problem is this: Man's idea is to rule by force, i.e. violence. Government is essentially rule by the threat of violence. If you don't obey, you'll go to prison or worse. So we have "civil" society. But even in relatively "civil" countries, mens hearts are full of evil desires, they desire to do evil things.
      If you are honest, you too will admit that you not only have done evil, but that you desire to do evil. To not admit that is to claim moral perfection. That fact that man is immoral.. atheist or not.. is the most provable fact of history, and the foundation of Christian belief. So what hope is there.... none ... the only thing to do is to follow Darwin.. survival of the fittest.. get away with whatever you can get away with.

      Jesus turned this upside down. On the cross, he said of His murderers "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

      I do know God, and you can know Him too, I'll you have to do is "Ask, & it shall be given...."

      My whole life was transformed by Jesus Christ.. in a moment. I went from being a Sarcastic, mean-spirited, selfish, evil man, to a man who daily is learning the Life the God has for me. Blessing, and being blessed. God bless you!

      November 6, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  17. Lenny Pincus

    Why doesn't God just get rid of the Devil and make everyone's life great?

    November 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Al

      Can you imagine, if you were the devil, picking a fight with a deity that can speak you out of existence?

      November 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Actually, since god created the devil, he is ultimately responsible for all of the evil in the world.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • kimsland

      Actually strangely Al, I've thought of this issue.

      Hypothetically (ie untrue) If god existed and I died and went to heaven, I wouldn't want to praise him for eternity either.
      I mean, I'd say, Hey god seriously don't you get enough numskulls back on Earth to praise you all day?
      That would not be heaven to me, I'd rather be my own god thankyou very much.
      I'd spit on him, then walk out.

      Anyway that's how I feel.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Pierre

      The devil made a challenge to God. If he wiped him out on the spot, that would not have settled the question.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
  18. kimsland

    There is no god, or spirit of jesus, or prophet of Allah, or any other supernatural fairy tale know all.
    Although I'd like to think that superman exists, but sadly, all make believe, sorry to be the first to inform you.

    November 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Duce

      Precisely!

      November 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Josh T

      boom

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ENHl7haaZU

      November 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Peter

      Josh T: This little video has more holes in it than a sieve. But I bet you don't see any of them.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Josh T

      You're right. I don't see any of them.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • kimsland

      Adding comments has been disabled for this video
      Religious people don't want to hear the truth.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Josh T

      No I would just say we have very different opinions of what the truth is. And I see nothing wrong with prohibiting comments on his video. Probably just doesn't want inflammatory/malicious comments. Also, let it be known that Rick Perry is an idiot and am in no way supporting him politically by agreeing with him religiously

      November 6, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Pierre

      Not everything falls into the spectrum of visible light, and sadly the gross hipocracy of so many religions claining to be christian, makes it very difficult to believe.

      Acts @):29-30; I know that after my going away oppresive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among you yourselves men will rise up and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Martin

      This is a great place to express your desires, but no matter how greatly you hope that you will not answer to God for your life, you will indeed stand before Him...speechless.

      The tragic thing will be that if you could have swallowed your pride and ask God if He exists, He would answer, forgive you, and give you a new life.

      John 3:3 Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

      November 7, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  19. jbrhit08

    After reading the comments on this blog, it becomes painfully obvious why this country is going down the tank. God wants to bless us, but He can't because of what we're doing.

    No belief in God. No trust in God. No knowledge of what God does versus what Satan does. No idea how much Jesus loves them. No idea how much hope Christians have because they serve a living Savior. No idea that a proverbial bus is going to hit them. My heart sinks for these people.

    In God's eyes, Christians are just as bad as everyone else, they just have faith that Jesus has saved them.

    Non-Christians, don't look at Christians. Look at Jesus. That's the example. Jesus loves you. I love you. I'm praying that you will find Jesus.

    November 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • runner305

      Save your sinking heart for somebody else. I don't need nor want your pompous "sympathy". I'm an atheist and happy to be that way. Actually, I follow Buddhism, but as a philosophy; not as a religion with a deity. I've been around enough Christians like yourself, who feel that if people don't believe what you believe, they're not going to be "saved". Actually, my heart sinks for people that are so narrow-minded like you.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Clay

      Your Christianity is a judgmental joke and silly religious cults are the reason this country is polarized and stagnant. If there were a god, he would come down here and slap sociopaths like you for exploiting him in such ridiculous and negative ways.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • sybaris

      ..............and if you were born and raised in Thailand you'd be touting Buddah; if from Iran touting Muhammed; if an Aztec you'd be touting Quetzoquatl, if 4000 years ago in Egypt it'd be Osiris; if 500 BCE in Greece it'd be Zeus etc. etc..

      If you really think a god has a special place for people of a certain country I have some stock in pet rocks to sell you.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • kimsland

      To jbrhit08,

      Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha, what a living joke you are.
      Watch out I think I saw jesus looking down on you (he was laughing at you too)
      Lol Lol Lol Ha Ha Ha

      Why, why do people like jbrhit08 exist still in our world, it is beyond reasoning.
      jesus was born and preached in the Middle East, he was just a man you fool.
      Actually jesus is still a common name there today as it was back then.

      November 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Bill

      What you see in this blog are people who have opened their eyes to the games politicians play to win office. When people need spiritual guidance they should go to a church of their choice, seek a wise counselor or pray privately about it – there are many options but it is NOT a show for the world to see. Perry has never appeared overly religious previously by word or action – why now?

      November 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • CanOnTo

      Did you just say "God can't"?!? "God wants to bless us, but He can't." I thought you thought that there is nothing that God cannot do. Now, slowly remove your foot from your mouth...

      November 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • frenchyrules

      ......Yes we all should look at Jesus because it's what your telling us to do. Although the fact is that they were told what you were probably to believe in. And it all started from the people who lived a long long time ago, people who didn't know what they were doing, who just acquired the physical trait of a thought process, who had only one goal in life which was to survive! So lets say a little way down the road someone had an idea! That idea? it's this little thing called religion. It wasn't experienced, it was, thought of, a way of trying to explain what the purpose of their lives were. Lets face it, we have been letting some very much pre historic way of thinking rule our lives, for what? Religion is a 10000 thousand year old rumor that, coincidently like in our modern times, only result in someone in the end getting hurt. emotionally or, like we've seen in world war II, even now in the war in the middle east.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Whodathunk

      jbrhit08 just felt like preaching. Notice no responses for discussion. I can imagine that he/she feels SO holy now.

      November 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Martin

      I think the reason She doesn't reply is that she is smarter than I am!

      Matthew 7:6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. "

      i.e., Some people are too hard hearted to hear about the Love of God:

      Romans 2:5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Martin

      MOCK ON!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  20. RichXX

    Please, if we get this guy to leave the country, could we please send Brownback of Kansas with him? They are two peas in a pod. They are both dangerous.

    November 6, 2011 at 10:26 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.