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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. Rich

    Rick did god tell ya to hate gays /Mexicans/poor people and love the Koch bro's?.............very strange god you got there...no?

    November 7, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  2. Adam

    Wow, a politician that claims God is on his side? Who woulda thunk? That Rick Perry must be a pretty smart fella to have come up with that self-promoting drivel.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • BobZemko

      If I were Perry, I'd be asking the man upstairs the numbers to next week's PowerBall.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  3. liz

    Since when did taking the Lord's name in vain for financial & political gain count as a "mission from God"?

    November 7, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Bob

      Always has. Religion is all about exploitation. The powerful take advantage of the gullible.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  4. kingnpriest

    The will of God is that all would come to repentance. Turn from their sin the living God, through the atonement of the blood of Jesus Christ. This is God's one and only agenda in the world. Having a psuedo religious figure as a political candidate has nothing to do with that, and neither does legislating righteous behavior by laws. One acts righteous when they live in the light of the revelation of the truth of Jesus Christ! JOHN 14:6 JESUS IS THE WAY

    November 7, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Pastafarian

      *yawn*

      November 7, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • runner305

      You're as delusional as Perry is!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • hippypoet

      jesus is the way to yor very own padded room complete team jacket and logo!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Bob

      So quoting from your pathetic book of evil is supposed to convince me of anything? How about you quote those bits about how to sacrifice animals too? Jesus said the OT still applies, so go jump that goat.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • kingnpriest

      To the faithless, I feel sorry for your hopeless life. What do you have to look forward to when your heart beats it's last? A holie in the ground? Now that is CRAZY! In Christ you will have the hope of the resurrection and the mortal body you now have being transformed into an immortal one! I'd rather live a life of faith and belief! GLory to God. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain, I on the other hand have everything to gain and nothing to lose! BELIEVE John 3

      November 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • BobZemko

      If Jesus is TRULY all-loving, then it wouldn't matter whether we believe in him/her/it to be saved.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Bob

      kingnpriest, I'll see you at the goat sacrifice. Your sicko bible demands it.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • kingnpriest

      What verse are you implying? There are no more animal sacrafices required to cover sin. The sacrafice of Jesus Christ was the final and end all of blood sacrafice. His death created the new covenant of which all are welcome to become part of, when you die you will be received by God as if you were Jesus Christ hiimself. Without Christ, you will die in your sins, and be accountable for them. Listen to your heart, you know it's true, Don't leave earth without CHRIST!!!

      November 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • BRC

      @Kingnpriest,
      So in theory, if a person lead a good life, and never sinned (unlikely but possible), but never said a word about Jesus, good or bad (they'd heard about him but never addressed the issue, they just focused on living a good life), what would happen to them?

      November 7, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • tallulah13

      I love how people like "kingnpriest" talk about how hopeless atheist lives are then go on and talk about the wonderful things that christians will get after they die. I don't think they have a clue how contradictory that is.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Rahn

      @Kingnpriest – You have it all wrong. The universe was created by my 6ft tall rabbit named Harvey. The only way to get into heaven is if you do the special rabbit dance every sunday in your front yard. Harvey showed me the dance and so far, it looks like I'm the only one going to heaven. The rest of you will be tortured for all eternity. I can't exactly explain why that is. I don't understand rabbit logic, but like Harvey says, carrots are for eating, not for pointing at people and I agree 100%. I'm sorry these are the rules. I didn't make them up, but I did find them etched into the interior of my reading glasses. Wish I could find those glasses. Haven't been able to see right without them. You should have faith in Harvey. Maybe you'll only spend half as long in eternity burning in hell. Or maybe ALL religion is a crock that poisons minds and encourages people to believe things without any evidence or sense of reason.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • BRC

      @Rahn,
      My wife loves that movie. I personally can't stand the guy's voice (I know, beloved actor and all, but he drives me up the wall).

      November 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  5. Hemp Is a Native Plant

    Faith is the enemy of Reason.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Actually, Faith is the result of reason. It is not reasonable to believe that your existence is by chance. Pull your head out dude!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Pastafarian

      King: you're a bit confused. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean the explanation defaults to "it must be god". That is not using any type of reason whatsoever. We simply do not know how the universe came into existence. It certainly isn't according to some book written a mere 1500 years ago by primitive man to control the masses.

      It may have been a supreme being, but if so, who created that being? There are many possibilities, but unless there is even a shred of REASON to actually support religious beliefs, I'll stick with science, not faith and mythology.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Bob

      Pasta be upon you and yours.

      RAmen.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Pastafarian please do share with us the "SCIENTIFIC" evidence that you have obtained which discredits the Bible. I am curious to hear it. You must somehow have stumbled across something that nobody else has, because science has never before had a conclusive case to deride faith. Please enlighten us....

      November 7, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Kingnpriest: I write this response with all due respect, and not a hint of sarcasm or venoum. Unfortunately, you are horribly confused and mired in ignorance. It is not the responsibility of science to disprove the existence of anything. The responsibility falls on the believer to prove its existence.

      I will make a simple request: google Russels Teapot Wiki and read the argument made there. Then come and tell me what evidence there is to disprove the existence of Russel's Teapot. Of course you can't disprove it, nor do you think you should have to because it is such a ridiculous story! Well, that's EXACTLY the same as "disproving" the stories in the bible.

      I patiemtly await your response on this thread.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • kingnpriest

      just like I thought.....silence from another big talking "scientist" The fact is the Bible can't be proven wrong, quit being brain washed by the devil, and be not faithless but believing!!

      November 7, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Pastafarian

      Actually King, I spent 15+ years in academia earning my PhD and several years of postdoctoral work. During this period, the key thing I was taught did not involve the biochemistry and molecular biology of my degree, but how to think critically and NEVER accpet anything as truth just becuase some PERSON told me it was true. You might consider doing the same. Ask some tough questions. It will not be easy, as you have been brainwashed your whole life to believe in bulls.hit just because people have always told you it was true. But if you look deep inside, you'll see there is NO reason to think anything religious is "factual".

      November 7, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Pastafarian, I have googled just now your "russells teapot" I do undetatand what he is trying to say, and typical of any athiest he has tried to come up with an argument that allows him to escape the idea that he is accountable to anyone other than himself. I can assure you that upon death Mr Russell and yourself will be greatly disappointed, and will reap for all eternity the sorrow of your mistaken belief. Why would you not choose, in an endless debate, to error on the side of caution and believe the Bible. As an athiest you have no hope of anything in your future but a grave. I have the hope of all things including a glorious resurrection body through Jesus Christ. This is the belief that the Apostles were killed for! Do you really think they would have allowed themselves to be skinned alive, and crucified upside down all while not denying the realtiy of the resurrection of Christ? If it were a made up story or a myth, they certainly would have recanted and saved their own skin! The fact remains there is eternal life for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, and enternal misery for those such as mr russell who try and invent a philosophy that does away with God, to alleviate their guilty conscience.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Pastafarian

      King: your response is not very reasonable. Russel's is put forth to try to get you to see how ridiculous your blind faith really is. There is no more support for the resurrection of christ than there is for Russel's teapot, or The Flying Spaghetti Monster (another Wiki page worth looking at).

      Again, even though you so badly want this hope for eternal life, etc to be true, it doesn't change the facts. Why not enjoy the life you have here on earth right now, as it is the ONLY life you are sure exists. Why wait to find out that you wasted it away hoping for some fantasy-based eternity? Look, if god/jesus is all-loving, he won't hold it against me for using the brain he gave me to think.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Pastafarian, I must quote another scripture for you, because you are fulfilling it:
      1 Corinthians 1:20-24 "So where does this leave the philosphers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who as for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdm. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, thhe jews are offended and the gentiles say it is all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God."

      November 7, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Pastafarian, Some things about me. My faith in Jesus has not kept me from living life! Rather, it enhances it. I have raised 4 daughters, have grandchildren. I have built with my own hands 5 houses, I have spent years in economoics and stock trading theories. I enjoy outwitting the financial markets. I have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ all over the country in the open air, and on colleges and universiities. I have laid hands on people who are lying on their death bed, and placed my hand on the head of the demon possessed and seen them delivered by the power of Jesus Christ. These things are real. I have debated this gospel with micro biologists before on many occasions, It all comes down to the fact that you will die, and I will die. I choose to place my faith and hope in Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the dead. You do not. My best to you, I will pray for you.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Pastafarian

      your argument is sadly naive. It's the same as me quoting Cinderella to prove the existence of fairy godmothers! These are lines written into the bible to manipulate simple-minded people into abandoning reason. can't you see that???

      I'm sorry, but I must get back to work. Good luck to you, and RAmen.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Pasta, I have enjoyed the debate. I don't know why you think letters written by Paul to churches nearly 2000 years ago were designed to control and cause fear among the masses. Paul was simply encouraging everyone in their faith, and as a matter of fact he was soon to have his head chopped off at the hands of Caesar, so what good did it do hiim if he was trying to control people with his letters? He was preaching the love and faith of Jesus Christ, just as I am trying to do. ....I hope we can talk another time. Take care.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  6. TheAnt

    This guy is a nut case oh wait all relgion is nut case.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Hey! You have fulfilled 1 Corinthians 1:18 "For the preaching of the cross is to them thatperish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
      Silly athiest, you just confirmed the Bible!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Pastafarian

      King oh my god! Who would ever imagine that a book written to control the masses through fear and guilt would ever predict that some would question its validity??? My 5th grader could have come up with random statements to support this circular argument.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Bob

      kingnpriest, bullcr@p. Such general predictions are worthless because mere happenstance means they will happen, god or not.

      Find a prediction in your storybook with a precise date in it down to the day, and you'll have something to talk about. Until then, your bible is just a steaming pile.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  7. TXFarmer

    The only God that Rick Perry worships is "oil". He would put a hole in every square foot of this great country if he and the "Big Oil" folk had their way. Did you know that here in Texas an oil company can drill a well within 200 feet of your home and you have no rights. The same way with gas compressors which will shake your house from 1/4 mile away. Perry signed away our property right just last year.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • liz

      Worshipping Mammon

      November 7, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Bob

      No, he said 'oil'.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
  8. Earl

    "Some friends of the governor say he sees his presidential quest as a kind of mission from God."

    If you want to use the phrase "...on a mission from God", you should be from Chicago, wearing a black suit, skinny black tie, black pork pie hat, and dark sunglasses – and your name should be Jake or Elwood.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Pastafarian

      hahaha, I thougt the exact smae thing! Sister Mary Stigmata lives on!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  9. cWhatsNew

    Another GW Bush kind of guy leading us for some "God told" crusade to launch some 'preemptive' wars, this time against maybe Iran, or China???? The price tag? Maybe at least another $2 Trillion or something to further bankrupt the back bone of US. NO MORE. Don't try to trick us twice. This time using what excuse? WMD?

    November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  10. OverIt

    The sad thing is, this man will gain popularity amoung his Christian cohorts,.. everyone that votes for this man and stands behind his values better be ready to fight in his Crusades... this all sounds very familiar... Christians – Muslims – conflict.... falling empires...

    November 7, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  11. Marlene

    Judging from the comments, no one wants to see Rick Perry as President. Let's hope that carries through to the election and this guy does NOT get elected.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  12. Kyle

    This man is freakin satan...

    November 7, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Bob

      No, sadly, Perry actually exists.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  13. limo guy

    Religious Views: Mine alone. I don't proselytize nor do I tolerate those who do.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  14. Meanwhile, back to the article...

    It's all well and good, and I have no problem with any President being a person of faith. But in 2008 President Obama gave a very straightforward and compelling description of his personal faith. And yes, he is a Christian and was never a Muslim. Even his father was not a practicing Muslim. So suppose that it becomes Obama vs. Romney. Many traditional Christians believe Mormonism to be at least an offshoot of Christianity if not a cult. So, if they believe God wants them to vote for a "Christian," whom do they vote for? The openly Christian Obama or the openly Mormon Romney?

    November 7, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Pastafarian

      The republicans will just run a smear campaign characterizing Barak "Hussein" Obama as a muslim – the same as they did with his citizenship.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Pastafarian

      The republicans will just run a smear campaign characterizing Barak "Hussein" Obama as a muslim – the same as they did with his citizenship. They will not allow something as trivial as the facts to get in the way.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  15. David

    The ignorant hold people of faith in contempt. Sad, but the comments here clearly indicate as much.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • BRC

      What causes you define people who do not have or follow a "religious" style of faith as ignorant?

      November 7, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • todd in DC

      Sorry, but people of faith are ignorant. They don't believe in science, which can be observed to give the same results but different people if they use the same conditions.

      Faith is an imaginary friend based on a book with multiple versions and numerous contradictions. Of course it's ok to kill your children if they talk back to you. Of course it's ok to force a woman to marry her rapist. Of course it's ok to kill someone who touches a pig.

      That's all in your bible. I'm guessing you are pretty ignorant about your own religion.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  16. Zayah

    Its pretty sad that we pick our presidents based on religion. It should actually scare the hell out of people when someone running for office declares deep religious motivation. Not because there is something wrong with religion, but because of how gullible people are when it comes to blindly following someone just because he says things like "I love jesus". People are just asking to be lied to, if politicians lie about everything else, what makes you think these guys aren't either atheists or devil worshipers. We should pick our leaders based on things that matter, religion not being one of them.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • hippypoet

      actually the church of satan is a peaceful one! check it out... it was also the church of the beetles. 🙂 little known fact – ablum cover with all the different people on it has the face of the founder of the church of satan on it!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Marlene

      Well said. I agree completely.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • todd in DC

      Actually, Hippy, I read the Satanic bible. It's rarely bites it's own tail, unlike the Christian bible.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Marlene

      Well said, Zayah. I agree completely.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • hippypoet

      when did i say that the church of satan bit its own tail?

      November 7, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • dont ask

      couldn't agree more. If god wanted religious people to be in power, Jesus would have ruled the roman empire. But he didn't, he kept religion and political power separate, and I think we should continue that practice.

      November 7, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  17. dont ask

    god may have told him to run for president, but he also told me not to vote for you Mr Perry

    November 7, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • The Dude

      Yeh man, like he told me the same thing... God appeared to me at the bowling alley the other day and told me not to vote for Perry 'cause he's an idiot. Then the true Emperor of the Universe totally wiped out this 7-10 split with real grace and dignity, man.

      November 7, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • dont ask

      my calling came at a bowling alley as well. The Almighty gave me a round of 192 that day.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  18. Vulpes

    Any person claiming he/she has a calling from God should not be in office

    November 7, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  19. dont ask

    why are all the articles about this guy soooo long winded? Honestly, we can't afford to have a guy in office that will be too busy talking to his imaginary friend to focus on the issues involved with presidency. We need someone in power who is way less religious than Perry.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Vic

      What ever happened to Separation of church and state? It seems like all these lunatics and their jesus followers take that as a grain of salt. Have a candidate that can say and deliver me something to where NON of my tax dollars will be used fund any schools private or public on the teachings of this god magic, and they got my vote!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  20. antonio

    This man is a Fr(*&^%ing lunatic.

    November 7, 2011 at 10:24 am |
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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.