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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. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Pat Robertson/Harold Camping 2012! Now which one of these wackos should be the Prez and which the VP?

    November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Observer

      Why not pair them with Palin so that at least one would quit halfway through?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  2. Brad

    Indeed, religion in this case is protective coloration for a failing politician. Rick Perry can't be rehabilitated in this way. He needs to show a command of facts and issues. He needs to come up with plausible ideas. Even then, he would have his entire political history to overcome.
    It's odd, though. He isn't a front-runner -only 4th in the polls – but he gets so much bandwidth.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  3. Chuckles

    It's funny, I was chatting with god the other night, you know about girls and money and basically life in general, and then from out of no where god was like, "Yo, Chuckles, I have a job for you, it's very important that you do it, I need you to go and vote this upcoming election and I need you to vote for Rick Perry, he seems a little crazy, but don't worry, he's all good in my book". I decided to exercise my right to free will that god gave me and told him that because of politics and social/fiscal issues I would probably vote dem unless the republicans gave huntsman an actual chance. We debated about the pros and cons and in the end god was like, "Totally vote for perry or else you're going to hel.l. It's your choice though, do whatever you want, don't let ME or the threat ot burning for eternity influence your decision" He then decided to close down the telepathic chat we were having because he had to make the rounds like he does every night.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • J.W

      I don't think God told you that. I've been told the opposite. He said that Jesus was a democrat.

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

      Atheists are spiritually challenged individuals which is the primary cause for their tendency to be intellectually dishonest on issues of faith. Once believers are aware of this physical limitation they should treat atheists kindly as we do others with varying handicaps. Being spiritually challenged generally places atheists at a further disadvantage as they are not aware of their lack of intellectual honesty.
      Emotions and their biological foundation play a critical role in secondary consciousness. Neurobiological complexities until recently have kept science from understanding the relationship between secondary consciousness and faith.
      The inability to acknowledge the possibility of; miracles, deities, reality of metaphysical abstractions etc. is typical. A personal relationship with non physical enti-ties such as the Christian God cannot even be conceived. Because of this inability they cannot comprehend the difference between the Easter Bunny and God or Santa Clause and Jesus. While the general population understands intuitively there exists a vast gulf between the Christian God and mythical gods such as Zeus, those lacking average secondary consciousness cannot.
      There is good news in that with rare exceptions this secondary consciousness can be awakened. Regrettably, the general disposition of spiritually challenged individuals is resistant to change or seeking help. Believers should be understanding yet aware that their attacks on faith are the result of predispositions not facts.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • J.W

      Oh you are kidding me! I have to call them spiritually challenged instead of atheist? Not more political correct bs.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Now now JW, We spir.itually challenged would prefer the ti.tle than "atheist" because so many believers use the term with such di.sdain now, it's on par with the "n" word and "f" word.

      @fred
      That post was a joke and I won't even de.ign to respond to it. When you come up with something relev.ant, well art.iculated and back it up with evidence, then we can discus.s the topic yes?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      I am just trying to help you get a parking place up front when you finally show up at an overcrowed church

      November 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • It Could Happen

      fred, Zeus is gonna smite you mightily for that slur. Prove that he won't.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Chuckles

      freddy,

      calling me spiritually challenged and intellectually dishonest takes cajones, I'll give you that. Only a believer would think that an atheist is the one being intellectually dishonest when it comes to matters of faith. It's painfully clear that the suspension of logic and reason (aka intellectual dishonestly) is what is essential to believing in the bible. Like I said, the post is a joke to the core.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      Here is a cut and paste from Wiki;"Edelman integrates the DCH hypothesis into Neural Darwinism, in which metastable interactions in the thalamocortical region cause a process of selectionism through re-entry, a host of internal feedback loops. “Re-entry”, as Edelman states, “provides the critical means by which the activities of distributed multiple brain areas are linked, bound, and then dynamically altered in time during perceptual categorization. Both diversity and re-entry are necessary to account for the fundamental properties of conscious experience.” These re-entrant signals are reinforced by areas Edelman calls "degenerate". Degeneracy doesn't imply deterioration, but instead redundancy as many areas in the brain handle the same or similar tasks. With this brain structure emerging in early humans, selection could favor certain brains and pass their patterns down the generations. Habits once erratic and highly individual ultimately became the social norm"
      Now, I understand that basic logic 101 keeps me from implying the following but hey I am not getting a grade on this; This explains why the vast majority of people beleive in God.
      If you eliminate atheists that reject God due to $exual orientation, known predisposition due to physical and emotional abuse, brainwashing in early childhood by atheist parents and fetal alcohol syndrome we can easily conceive that 2% or less of Americans are atheist due to an unknown cause. Lack of secondary consciousness cannot be eliminated without further study.
      Until such time you can have my parking spot.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @Fred

      You want to talk intellectually dishonest and then throw out a little nugget like, "Now, I understand that basic logic 101 keeps me from implying the following but hey I am not getting a grade on this; This explains why the vast majority of people beleive in God." – What you basically just said was, I have no basis in making this statement but I'm going to anyways.

      The whole wiki article you quoted, although dense, does not imply that god exists or theres a good reason why people believe in god, just that a majority of the people do, not to mention there are a crap load of reasons why people would claim to believe in god, whether its social pressure, the need to live forever, the need for answers to unsolveable questions, childhood brainwashing, etc..., This is your problem fred. You zero in a single cause for a specific reaction and ignore just about every other more important factor and state it as fact without really being to back up those beliefs.

      Keep your parking spot, really.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • fred

      Chuckles
      Further, in order to help Atheists that are spiritually challenged there is a “God Helmet” ……not to protect you when you fall (in a non Christian sense) but to allow you see what I see. Check it out on goggle under god helmet.
      The connection between the temporal lobes of the brain and religious feeling has led one Canadian scientist to try stimulating them. (They are near your ears.) 80% of Dr Michael Persinger's experimental subjects report that an artificial magnetic field focused on those brain areas gives them a feeling of 'not being alone'. Some of them describe it as a religious sensation.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • fred

      J.W
      If Chuckles does not want the helmet we could at least put it on a few Obama democrats before they vote to give Perry a chance

      November 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @freddy

      Why must you waste my time? artificially inducing a religious feeling of "not feeling alone" proves between -1 – 0%. Like I said in my first response, when you have something actually interesting, relevant and evidence to actually back up your claim, then we'll talk.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      "Further, in order to help Atheists that are spiritually challenged there is a “God Helmet” ……not to protect you when you fall (in a non Christian sense) but to allow you see what I see. Check it out on goggle under god helmet."

      His theory is that the sensation described as "having a religious experience" is merely a side effect of our bicameral brain's feverish activities. Simplified considerably, the idea goes like so: When the right hemisphere of the brain, the seat of emotion, is stimulated in the cerebral region presumed to control notions of self, and then the left hemisphere, the seat of language, is called upon to make sense of this nonexistent entity, the mind generates a "sensed presence.".

      So fred it's all in your head. LMAO

      November 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • fred

      HAHAHA
      Finding God is harder for some than others. When a statistically small representation of the population has greater difficulty there normally would be a cause. I agree we have not found a smoking gun but there is something at work.

      Professor Grafman was more interested in how people coped with everyday moral and religious questions. He said that the latest study ( Professor Jordan Grafman, from the US National Inst-itute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda,) suggests the brain is inherently sensitive to believing in almost anything if there are grounds for doing so, but when there is a mystery about something, the same neural machinery is co-opted in the formulation of religious belief.

      Mcnamara:
      "It tells us about why certain people find it easier to be spiritually religious," he explained. "Down through the centuries, we have seen that there are some spiritual geniuses."
      McNamara listed as examples Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., along with Jesus, Mohammed and Moses.
      "These people had special talents, there's no question about it."
      The findings appear in the newest issue of the journal Neuron.
      "You remove brain tissue and you get an enhancement of something," said Patrick McNamara, director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.
      http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/god-brain-tumor-surgery-points-brains-religious-center/story?id=9796634
      --
      Anthropologists like Atran say, "Religion is a byproduct of many different evolutionary functions that organized our brains for day-to-day activity."
      To be sure, religion has the unparalleled power to bring people into groups. Religion has helped humans survive, adapt and evolve in groups over the ages. It's also helped us learn to cope with death, identify danger and finding mating partners

      November 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      "Religion is a byproduct of many different evolutionary functions that organized our brains for day-to-day activity"

      That's right it's all in your head, nothing more.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Chuckles

      @fred

      HAHAHA is taken up the mantle and done admirably in explaining why your position is wrong. Kudos HAHAHA, keep up the good fight!

      November 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • fred

      HAHAHA
      That is why the Apostle Paul said it begins with transforming the atti-tude of your mind. All the attacks of the atheist against the Bible are to bring about a change of att-itude. When this changes you look at the Bible and God with a different perspective. The first is to lay the seeds of doubt (same as in Genesis). An att-itude of doubt brings a different reading of the Bible. Noah's boat was not big enough, Jonah could not survive a big fish, Jesus cannot rise. Take your focus off the love of God and purpose of creation to death of the Amalekites and Cain then conclude God is an unjust killer. TYour mind has just been changed 180 degrees from faith in Christ to a usless existence that ends with death.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Fred

      Your entire argument is pointless when you consider many of us BEGAN with a faith and belief in God. It was only AFTER we discovered real truths about the world around us that the lies and untruths of religious belief revealed themselves. Once you open pandoras box theere is no going back. You might as well ask us to excise the thinking parts of our brains.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      "Your mind has just been changed 180 degrees from faith in Christ to a usless existence that ends with death."

      This too is all in your head and you continue to lie. There is nothing useless in our existence, at least not in mine. i am an honored member in my community, I have changed children lives, I have changed adult lives for the better. To know life has been made easier because I existed, then my life has been successful and I know I am dying in peace without regret. NO god needed in that.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • fred

      Steve
      HAHAHA
      I am not saying you are worthless. I am saying if there is no life after death and eventually the sun itself goes out our existence is meaningless.Everything we know cries out there is something outside of ourselves and more to life than this existence:.
      Universe that continues to expand
      Evolution that shows continual improvement and redesign for new life
      Nature, a seed brings life and starts a vital striving for the next generation
      25,000 manuscripts by the close of the first century that reveal Jesus / God, heaven and hell
      Life after death stories from countless resuscitated individuals talking of light and tunnels
      Number of religions that address life after death
      Archeologists that uncover civilizations past that told of the afterlife

      Yet, the atheist sees nothingness at the end of the journey which seems to go against everything we know and see. I understand agnostic thought but not a vision of non existence.
      You yourself just mentioned leaving a better world behind Ha which reflects a path of direction not one that ends. The Bible is not about science it is about that which science cannot address.
      56 million Bibles went out last year alone. There are 80 million Christians now in China. The main university in China has christian studies and the communist party allows it. This is a Bible the Jews and skeptics have tried to extinguish for 2,000 years and it grows larger. In the face of greater and greater scientific knowledge our need for God has actually increased not decreased. There is power in the Word of God that man cannot smash. The evidence of a force greater than us is evident to all but a small handful.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • HAHAHA

      “I am saying if there is no life after death and eventually the sun itself goes out our existence is meaningless. Everything we know cries out there is something outside of ourselves and more to life than this existence:.”

      It’s not meaningless while you are alive fred, but yes after death that is the end of your existence. SO WHAT! The only thing crying out is you, you are still looking for meaning in your life, you need to believe there is more to life because you haven’t accomplished what you hope you would. It’s time you face the difficult truths. Usually, once we are willing to face what we really want in our lives, what we want becomes clear to us. The hard part is accepting it. The solution to your problem is to start doing what you really wanted to do. It will open up a greater happiness in your life that you are missing.

      November 8, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  4. Dave

    Okay.... Perry, please find a place for your worship privacy. Please do not mix your religion with our politics. We don't want to see this country become the Taliban country. I have my own faith in God. Thank you.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  5. Vince

    What a waste of news space. The "faith" of any candidate should have zero to do with electing them. We aren't electing a pope. We have more pressing issues in the country right now than my god is better than your God. The people who use this as a basis for electing a leader would be better suited living in a country where religion plays a role in the laws of the land. I would suggest Iran or any of the other Muslim countries where religious law is supreme.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  6. SaintM

    Rick Perry is of the same religious ilk as GW Bush–and they both heard God tell them to run for President as did Michelle Bachmann. That alone tells me more than I need to know about him. This country was founded on religious freedom, yes, but the evangelicals have now made it "their way or the highway". No other western, civilized country has religion and politics so mixed in. Anywhere else, this is the third rail, and it is just plain wrong. Perry, like Bush, prefers to base his decisions on religion rather than fact or intelligent thinking, and like Bush, he would be a terrible president. Go away, you knuckle-dragging neanderthal, and leave the presidency for those who are truly qualified.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Ram

      TO: Saint M -

      When you reply to posters with whom you disagree, it would be helpful to comment on the person's views or assumptions.

      When you engage in insults, ad hominem attack-dog remarks, and grade school name-calling, (Emphasis Here) – YOU UNWITTINGLY DIMINISH YOUR OWN POINT.

      Most of the time when people engage in personal attacks, it means that they have no original thoughts to share – if indeed they ever had them. Shooting blanks with empty verbal jiu-jitsu adds virtually nothing to a dialogue.

      Your name-calling qualifies for this "distinction."

      November 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Blutto

      God talks to my little Dog (God spelled backwards) and all he wants is dog food and biscuits. He also loves to lick my toes...

      November 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  7. EddyL

    Religious fanatics.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Blutto

      Dr. Johnson had stated "Patriotism is the last refuge of a Scoundrel" and Oscar Wilde has stated "Politics is the last refuge of a Scoundrel". While I am not that famous but I say "Religion is the last refuge of a Scoundrel."

      November 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  8. dont ask

    Haven't we been at war for the last 10 years with people who act based on what their religion told them to do? Not really the kind of people I wish to support....just saying.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  9. Sober Guy

    You can easily tell from their faces that they just want to become president to start more wars and bloodshed.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Sober Guy

    These monkeys should never be elected who uses religion to just fool around people. Especially Evangelical psychopaths warmongers. No more Evangelical morons and no more wars!

    November 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  11. HAMMR

    "Perry felt Lord was calling him" Kelly said" He is Phukkkn insane...totally insane.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  12. dinak

    Well at least Perry doesn't think he IS God as does the current U.S. President.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • HAMMR

      your stupid

      November 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Not true. Only Repulicans refer to him as the messiah.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • SaintM

      dinak–President Obama does not think he is God. He knows what his limitations are, and works well within those. Republicans have their knickers in a knot about Obama because they are terrified of his intelligence compared to their own–to them, Obama is God.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  13. ReligionIs4Dolts

    Anyone who says "god" told them to do something is dangerous! Just remember delusional people such as George W. Bush and David Berkowitz, who claimed "god" told them to kill people.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Ram

      Whether you support Perry or not – this is another not-so-subtle hit piece on Evangelicals (Full disclosure: I am not one – very far from it).

      If Perry or another candidate was a Muslim, there is a zero chance you'd read an article like this. On the other hand, Evangelicals and Christians in general are fair game for skewering.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • HellBent

      "If Perry or another candidate was a Muslim, there is a zero chance you'd read an article like this."

      Percentages aren't your strong suit. There already was an article on a muslim congressman not all that long ago. The comments were largely ignorant hate-filled posts be believers.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  14. Observer

    Palin did offer a good selling point for the religious. Right before the last presidential election she said she was sure God would do what was right.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • Brad

      What's right is not necessarily right for America. Let's not wrap God in the old red white and blue.

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

      Why are we talking about imaginary magic sky daddies like they're real?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  15. tannim

    "We're on a mission from God." – Rick "Blues" Perry

    Please.

    What does the Almighty, the All-Powerful, All-Omnipotent, All-Knowing, needs with a mere mortal-construct called government?

    "Why does God need a Starship?" – James T. Kirk

    Perry can have his faith, but frankly, government is about as opposed to religion as it gets, and they just don't mix. Nor should they. Even the Christ knew that. Why the Dominionists, evangelicals, Calvinists, and SBCers don't get it just indicates how far off of the teachings of the Christ they really are.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • TheLord

      Exactly, these are not Christians, they do not follow the teachings of Christ, they believe in a story book and they interpret it to fit their backwoods banjo country mentality. No better than Al-Qaeda, they just don't blow people up.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  16. Blutto

    Rick Perry is an idiot from Texas much like Dubya Bush is.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  17. dont ask

    They need to rename this blog as "Anti-Belief" because I swear more people who like to get a kick out of these religious fanatics come here to post rather than the religious followers. Most of the posts are personal opinions, based on experience or just true inner feelings; whereas the religious supporters usually just refer to quotes from the bible that offer no real insite into their own thoughts.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Ram

      TO: Don't Ask

      You wrote, "whereas the religious supporters usually just refer to quotes from the bible that offer no real insite into their own thoughts.

      Perhaps they have insights instead of insites, eh?

      November 7, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Blutto

      That is because these waco evangelical Southern Baptists so called Christians have it so wrong about what Jesus came to teach us. Organized religion is so out of place in this coming world it is not funny. What if I told you all that religion has NOTHING to do with it at all? And fools blow themselves up for some fake religious cr ap in other made up religions. If Jesus came back, he would tell you that you all have misrepresented him and his mission.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • dont ask

      yes indeed. thank you grammar police. That was a very" insightful" comment.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  18. merridee

    If I had a choice between voting for Rick Perry and being shot in the head, I'd choose the latter.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  19. Kareen

    Strange, but God only seems to speak with Republicans.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Blutto

      Just a case of hijacked religion for political purposes by the republicans. A religious politician is an oxymoron. I KNOW what DUBYA did in Texas when he met with them religious wacos and cut a deal with them for the presidency. A deal cut with the Devil. Now we get the same cr ap with this Perry moron...ENOUGH!

      November 7, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • V

      No, although I've voted Democratic in every election since 1976 – except for primaries in Texas where there's no point in voting Democratic – I can say that every candidate I've ever seen has made some effort to look like a man of faith.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  20. TheLord

    "raised their hands to Jesus"? Why was he up in a tree somewhere?

    November 7, 2011 at 12:25 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.