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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. paul

    Sorry, but there is no one, dem or rep candidate, worthy of my vote. Buffoons and idiots are not choices.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • dont ask

      I agree. I'm ready to write in Big Bird at this point. These are the best candidates for running the country the parties can come up with??? That's a sad fact.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  2. i wonder

    I wonder if any of Perry's advisors are reading these comments? I hope that they don't tell him to go underground with his "God talks to me" spiel. Everyone needs to continue to hear how nutty he is.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  3. Susan

    Did Perry list God as a reference? And if so, did he put down a phone number and/or email address so that God can be contacted?

    November 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  4. Rahn

    Ok, religious folks. Imagine that there are two separate rooms. Room A & Room B. They are inclosed, no windows, with only one door in each room. Behind the door in room A is an Atheist. He has empathy for other people and many of his morals are based on that empathy. Behind the door in room B is your god. He behaves as your god behaves. In each room, there are an adult and a small baby who is only a few months old. Yelling is heard inside the room with the words "If you don't stop screaming, I'm going to kill you." The Atheist in room A quickly opens the door and stops the adult as he or she has the baby raised in the air, about to throw it against the wall. What do you think happens in room B when your god hears the same thing ? Tell me again how much you believe that your god exists the next time you read about a small childs death at the hands of an adult. Atheists exist and I would want them behind that door every single time and if you're honest with yourself, so do you.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • JDJ

      Atheists can and should do good things. In the messy world we find ourselves in, bad things happen to good people. The existence of evil is one of the most difficult questions to deal with. The short answer is that God allows people to make decisions that may be harmful to themselves and others. We know that all people, including me, do bad things. God does intervene sometimes to stop the baby from being killed, but frequently works through humans to advance the cause of right. One big reason God gives us the ability to choose is that we all have the ability to choose to follow God or turn our back on Him. God offers peace and forgiveness to anyone who will come to Him.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Rahn

      @ JDJ – if the moral thing to do is to stop someone who is about to kill a child, then your god is immoral or your god doesn't exist. Either way, your reasons for following such a being, if it exists are completely irrational and highly immoral. If your god exists, it is the creator of evil. It is evil if ever anything could be labeled as such. Hitler can kill millions, but when god kills billions it's ok. Hitler can burn people alive for minutes until they die, but when god burns people for an eternity for NOT loving him, that's ok with you. That act is ok with you because your god did it. Your belief in such a hideous monster and worship you give to such EVIL is beyond my ability to understand. I'll never understand it. I'll never support it. And as evil as you are for the misguided worship you give to that imaginary evil god in your mind, I don't hate you for it. I pity your mind for giving it the label of LOVE.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  5. jude

    the fact he graduated from texas A&M with a degree in animal science with a 2.5 GPA should say something. the guy is a blabbering idiot, extreme right and completely unelectable. oh yea i forgot he gets an extra point in the idiot category for denying the fact of evolution.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • John B

      Hey Jude, (hehe- I guess you get that a lot)

      The scary thing is when people say somebody like this is unelectable. I would think the same myself. But, George W got in twice. In my own district in NY, an insane tea-bagger was elected to the House. I take nothing for granted anymore.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  6. MiketheElectrician

    He's on a mission from God....hmmm where have I heard that line from...hint (2 guys in sunglasses) haha,.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  7. marty rogers

    am I the only one that is creeped out by this? last time we have some phony claiming a mission from God we got into two wars, one under false pretenses costing thousands of american lives, the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression and the most divided this country has ever been. NO THANKS! ...

    November 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • JEB

      Somebody better be on a mission from God, as this country is going down the tubes fast.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • steve

      yeah that pretty much sums it up...texas governor who wants to be president decides he needs an edge, so a few years before he runs he conveniently "finds god" whatever the heck that means, in effort to try and shore up the tens of millions of votes of our nations weak minded people, who would actually jump off a cliff if their fiery preacher told them too.
      huh......he like us.....must be good.....preacher say cast vote for him....i do
      And it's a wonder that America is in decline????

      November 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  8. Colin

    Dear Evangelical Christians:

    God here.

    First, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the thoughts and actions of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous. Grow a brain.

    Second, if I did, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who withheld evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifth, I would not care who you do or how you “do it”. I really wouldn’t. This would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Oh, the egos.

    Sixth, I would have smited all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and yet you speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric for me to even contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Finally, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Believing in me was fine when you thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now you know how enormous and old the Universe is. Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

    November 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Kathy

      If I come from source energy (God) then I have all the components of that Source, therefore I am Source energy. I am God.
      I am free now from the bondage of mans church and all the controling rules it imposes, free to create and just be which was my original intention when I chose to come forth into this time/space reality. If you knew the laws of the Universe, you'd know.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • carl

      Thank you God for clearing that up! LOL you made my day

      November 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Collin

      Ooo make that yourself? We're so impressed!

      Stay on topic...

      November 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Colin

      So Collin, do you take issue with anything I said, or just the fact that I said it?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • EnjoyingLife

      Great Post!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • J.W

      I have bad eyes I know that one of them has two L's but im not sure if i can tell both of you apart.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • JoeS

      God does exist and controls the whole Universe with his' unmatched powers. How He does it? It was the Holy Ghost that knows everything. Since you don't know the Holy Ghost how it works, it would be impossible for you to know or to even comprehend it. God does speak to men up to now. Do you want to know how to do it? I can show it to you how.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • TheTruthFairy

      @Jose
      Please, please, please show me how to speak to god, and how he speaks to me.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • carl

      JoeS how did you get out to the counter and on that computer?? Back to the rubber room right now young man !!!!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • samiam1955

      Colin, this post is WAY too good to appear for a couple of days on this message board and then disappear. If this really is original, you have to post this in a more permanent place.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  9. jemzinthekop

    A person that believes they have been called by an invisible being to lead a nation and that has codes to nuclear weapons is about as scary as it gets in this world.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • scott

      I don't think he believes it. He just believes the majority of voters are stupid enough to believe it.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • Eduation_Historian

      Dr. Strangelove

      November 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • JEB

      Just another athiest, bashing those of us with faith in God..

      November 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • scott

      Unfortunately JEB, I'm pretty sure God lost faith in you shortly after Watergate.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      JEB, in a world where you and I could name 100 gods (Zeus, Mithra, Shiva etc) and we could 100% agree that every one of them are false and never existed.... is it really that absurd when we get to your god that I don't share the same sentiment?

      They all have the exact amount of truth in their existence as the next.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  10. Erik in Houston

    People like this get carte blanche to talk to invisible person(s) in the name of religion. Anything else, and they'd be deemed nuts and locked up in an asylum. Wake up ... religion is a complete waste of time because its built on mistruths, little facts, and invisible person(s), i.e., myth.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • JEB

      You are one sick puppy!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • TRH

      "Sick puppy..." You took a page out of Scott's book obviously.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @JEB: Listen very carefully here, you claim that you hear god speaking to you and know for a fact that it exists...in order to make such a claim you must provide the evidence to back that up or you need to go back to see your psychiatrist for stronger meds. So please what evidence do you have to support your delusions and you can't use scripture or anything from the buybull to support your claim. Care to meet that challenge?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  11. Pipeline Chick

    Separation of church and state...get it Ricky?

    November 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  12. open400

    I can not believe we are talking about going back to the politics that got us into this mess in the first place. There are those among the GOP that argue that Bush had the right policies; just the wrong execution of those policies. Bush had the wrong policies and the wrong execution of those failed policies.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  13. TRH

    I'll vote for the African-American Lesbian atheist candidate. She's out there somewhere...and when this country becomes the country it should be she'll be on the ballot. Just hope it's in my lifetime.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • scott

      Either way you go, you are one sick puppy M8.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Nonimus

      If she's the best qualified, then I might vote for her too. But not because of those things.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • TRH

      Scott:

      I've expressed my opinion...now please do likewise instead of resorting to simple name-calling.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • TRH

      Nonimus:

      Well-said. I believe that religion has no place in politics. If a candidate can keep his or her religion out of the decision-making process if they become president then that's fine.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  14. us1776

    Could we please get the "Invisible Being" out of government !!

    .

    November 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • SoM

      No!!!!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • The Pope

      We must combine church and state- that way the politicians might have the "power of god" behind their corruption.
      We must also dumb down this spiritual conversation- its getting way too deep. Keep it superficial- after all our vocabulary is limited. How about them Cardinals?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  15. JOE

    The last thing I want is a preaching president. They're all phony! Bush W. was said to be very spiritual too. And have you ever read Bush's former press secretary's McCullough's book or his report on what was said in Bush's cabinet before he declared war on Iraq? Well, after Bush read the Pentagon report ruling out that Iraq possessed WMD's and that Iraq posed no imminent threat to the US and that there was no reason to go to war, Bush responded to this report by saying "F it, we're going in anyway." I think a good place for W to do his preaching is at the ICC in the Hague.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • excitizen

      and like so many, I'm sitll asking why he and other aren't being tried in a court of law for war crimes

      November 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  16. nightsun2k7

    Get god out of politics....period.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  17. excitizen

    A man of God, who just happens to want Israel to bomb Iran and has no problems executing innocent people...you just have to shake your head sometimes at the hypocricy!

    November 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  18. restoringfaithinhumanity

    Usually the comments on CNN's website make me want to leave this planet. I'm glad to see that it seems like most people understand that we do not need a man like this in office. He is clearly a sociopath trying to manipulate the religious right. This man is not follower of christ's teachings, he is a power hungry maniac.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  19. brian

    the only thing worse than a candidate using religion to get votes are the retard followers voting for them. Religion is the cancer of society disguising itself as a positive thing. It is and always has been the reason for war in the world. For the blinded it provides a false sense of security and hope. It is a crutch for the weak and misguided.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • JEB

      Not saying Perry is a good candidate, but watch the slamming religion and demeaning all believers. Ok, your an athiest or whatever, but regardless if you like it or not, most Americans believe in God, so you are a minority. Maybe you should look into moving to one of those European countries, which gave up on God a long time ago and have put their faith in man to fix all the problems. Look where they are now.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • TRH

      JEB:

      And look where WE are now.

      Brian is essentially correct about the cause of many wars being based on religion. Read history and you'll find this to be true. It all started when Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in about 400 CE. He only did it for political expediency by the way.

      Another thing to remember...the US was intended to be a secular republic by the founding fathers, many of whom had religious convictions, and some of whom were deists or atheists. Either way, they knew exactly what they were doing and why. They used the history of the mother country (England) as a model for what they DID NOT want...hundreds of years of war, murders, political intrigue, bigotry, and intolerance nearly all caused directly or indirectly by the Catholic church in Rome or later the Church of England (founded by Henry the VIII because he wanted a divorce...LOL)

      History will tell the story if you care to investigate.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  20. MBW

    Rick Perry, what a Pharasee. Jesus himself describes Perry with his own words, " These people honor me with their
    mouth, but their heart is far from me".

    November 7, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • jemzinthekop

      Jesus would have said that had he actually existed.... since he didn't we can assume that phrase (like everything else he claimed to have uttered) should be attributed to the Egyptian sun god Horus for whom Jesus was completely plagiarized from. This is the whole problem... people who cannot decipher fact from fantasy are trying to run a secular world with their mythology and voodoo.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:02 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.