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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. world traveler

    wow... if it were a movie, it'd be a "B" at best... if it were an insanity plea, he'd get off scott free... but this guy is running for President of the USA; not president of the local Boy Scouts... it's scary what is going on in America... and scarier that Amercians are buying into this!

    November 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • GodPot

      American's would rather elect a reallity TV star than a boring qualified human. Problem is that it's boring and qualified that we need right now, not to mention human...

      November 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  2. Bob

    Jesus helped the poor. Republicans take from the poor and give to the rich.
    I guess this is the angle Perry is forced to use since hes losing all his debates.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  3. jake

    Another freaking looney who thinks God speaks to him. What a circus, Bachmann, Romney, and Perry. They must be the 3 Wise Men in the bible. These guys are all a bunch of phonies and liars. This isn't Afghanistan folks where the Taliban and their religion and government are one and the same. Seperation of State and Religion, what is so hard to understand about that? Bunch of losers, including that other clown with the groping of women. Where do these misfits come from and why would anybody in their right mind even think about any of them as a "leader". Gee, this is as funny as funny can be, you can't make this stuff up.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  4. john

    Unfit, unfit, unfit, unfit, unfit, unfit, unfit....

    November 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  5. SPQR

    I am not an expert, but it seems to me Mr. Rick Perry may be bi-Polar.

    He said he was not drunk or under the influence of drugs.

    But the way he was acting was very abnormal.

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

      Either he has some serious mental issues, or he was drunk or under the influence of something. You cant act like this and be serious about saying this is normal behavior. It isn't.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    "Mission from God" people always end up using their supposed faith to justifying harming others. The people I've known – BTW, who were of a variety of faiths, both Christian and non-Christian and yes, even some atheists – who actually lived moral, ethical, loving lives who contributed positively to the greater good and furtherance of humankind, did NOT wear their faith on their sleeve. They, unlike Parry, had a much better understanding of true humility regarding their purpose and place in this life.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  7. Steve in Iowa

    Hey slick Rick...... Keep your religion out of my White House.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  8. freetime1

    To believe in the bible or the koran one has to suspend logical thought and reason. One can not question the teachings of these books if they are part of the religions that follow these books. This is despite the fact that many of the things in these books are known to be untrue for any one who uses reason and logic in their thought process. Only 7% of the National Academy of Science members still cling to a belief in god because it is so illogical, but not our politicians. That is so scary to me. That voters would pick someone to over see our nuclear weapons and be in charge of our military that has suspended their ability to fully use logic and reason. Talking snakes, virgin births, floods, death sentences for witchcraft (yes, both the bible and the koran believe in witchcraft) and people vote for some that believes in that crazy stuff. I don't get it at all. We still are willing to vote for people that follow books that think witchcraft and all that other crazy stuff is real. This is discusting to me!

    November 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • dave7in VA

      Where in the Bible is witchcraft promoted?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • HellBent

      Exodus 22:18 (KJV) "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live."

      Exodus 7:22 (NIV) But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts

      Isaiah 47:12 (NIV) "Keep on, then, with your magic spells and with your many sorceries, which you have labored at since childhood. Perhaps you will succeed, perhaps you will cause terror."

      Deuteronomy 18:14 (NAS) "For those nations, which you will dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so."

      Acts 8:9-11 (NIV) Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.

      Deuteronomy 18:10-11 (NIV) Let no one be found among you... who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or cast spells, or who is a medium or spiritist.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Dana

      I'm an intelligent (IQ over average) female and my beliefs are mine only. That has nothing to do how the world is goverened and how I would govern it if I wanted to do or had a chance. Separate issues. If you think these cannot be separated then there is something wrong in your views and your mind has very visible limits. As far as Perry, he can go to whatever church he wants, will never get my vote.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Sober Guy

    No room for crazy religious psychopaths in politics. World is better off without these people. These people have invented all wars and violence around the world.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  10. The watcher

    Rick Perry needs to see a shrink, next he will say that god, and Jesus talk to him in his dreams. He is the kind of guy who would start WW3 then say that god told him to do it. Religion should never be allowed in politics, that is why we have the separation of church and state. This is not a Christian nation but a nation of all faiths. Why do republicans feel the need to declare a secret war on all religions but theirs.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Steve in Iowa

      Didn't Bush say he was told by jesus to invade Iraq, too?

      November 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • The watcher

      No bush invaded Iraq because Saddam tried to kill his dad

      November 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Paul

      Actually Steve he was told by Cheney to invade but figured being told by Jesus would win over all of those war mongers of the religious right.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Sober Guy

      Bush is exactly a Radical fanatics like this guy. They both are in the same picture smiling. Warmongers. Must be talking about to invade Iran or Canada.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  11. Paul

    "it is those Christian values that this country was based upon.”

    Typical religious right claptrap lie.

    "He said he didn’t want to do it, but he felt the Lord was calling him,”

    The psychiatric profession has made great strides in this type of delusion and maybe a prescription can fix this problem.

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

      I wonder what Perry and the rest of the repugs think about the part where Christ said for the rich to take all that they have and give unto the poor. I suppose God told him that this part no longer applies. I suppose they believe that God gave them all that wealth because they deserve it more then the rest.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Paul

      Well sameeker, they are CINO's. Christians in name only.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • WhatWhat

      @sameeker
      You're just 'interprifying' it wrong. That part wasn't supposed to be taken literally. Silly you!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  12. Ken

    Too many people in this country are just plain too stupid to be allowed to vote. People who vote based on religion and their beliefs should definitely not be allowed to vote. Keep you religion in your church and in your home but keep it out of the government. Simple minded idiots.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  13. kris in detroit

    Give me a Break, CNN......if you had paid a little bit more attention to Obama's religious habits, we might have been saved from having him in office

    November 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • pastmorm

      What has President Obama ever done to anyone with his Christian beliefs? Don't say something if you're just going to be stupid and base your spouting on your own uneducated beliefs.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Balls McGhee

      youre stupid.

      November 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • BigBang

      Dumb as a Christian.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Mortalc01l

      Yeah Kris, you are SOOOOO right.... That dastardly Obama; that doggone MUSLIM who has been going to the same CHURCH for 20 + years with his ACTIVIST Pastor... Damn MUSLIM..

      You are deeply stupid and you need to stop overtaxing your brain by trying to think... Just sit back and keep watching that pile of dogsh1t disguised as News... Faux News...

      November 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Paul

      To the extent I would prefer no Chistians be POTUS I would have to agree Kris. Organized religion has just created to many problems in this world.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Where did Kris say anything about organized religion causing problems? All Kris did was spew out a line of bullsh!t fallacy!

      November 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  14. pastmorm

    Oops! As soon as you say that you're on a mission from god to become the leader of the United States of America, you forfeit your chance under the law of the separation of church and state. That would be like the Pope going up to PM of Italy and saying, "hey dude, I'm on a mission from god to lead Italy so make me the supreme leader of the country!"
    Oh h*ll to the no!

    November 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  15. PaulE Louisville

    I will never vote for any candidate of any party that wears their faith on their sleeve like Perry does. Our forefathers fled Europe and other places to get away from religion-based government (though some of those folks were pretty religiously oppressive themselves). Seriously, if you want to see what faith-based government looks like, just look at the Middle East. Is this what America wants? To be told how to live our lives by evangelical Christians? I certainly don't. It's time for Americans of all faiths and non-believers to band together and guarantee that religion and government is forever separated. This is a basic tenet of our nation, no matter what the Teabaggers scream.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • TR6

      “Is this what America wants? To be told how to live our lives by evangelical Christians”
      This is exactly what most evangelicals want everything by their rules for every one 24 hours a day 7days a week 370 days a year. That Baptist theocratic nightmare that Perry grew up in is just what they want to force on everyone. Their idea of “heaven on earth” makes “1984” look like a kind and gentle alternative

      November 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • fred

      TR
      You have it backwards. True freedom only comes through Christ. Every other system of man ends up with rules. Somebody always will rule over you. To the contrary if you follow Christ you are free. The Bible says you can only have one master. If Jesus is your master then you have complete freedom of choice as you have the opportunity to choose Christ or the world. When you choose Christ you do the right thing because it is now part of you. When you reject Christ you get the world and its system which includes: materialism, slave to a job, slave to a mortage, slave to their way of life. If you want to look at rules just be part of the government they tell you: exaclty what you can and can't say, do not do. The liberal school marm with her hair in a bun watching over her babies. They dont call it a nanny state for nothing

      November 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  16. Jorge

    Oh no, not another big-tent, snake-oil thumper. This one wants to be president, there goes the neighborhood...

    November 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  17. Andy Rooney

    START TAXING THE CHURCHES!!!! I double gd guarantee you that will shut them up. Why aren't they being taxed anyway?????

    November 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  18. whome

    It's apparent that the republicans have no desire to win the White House by the people that have the parties backing, if they were to win all three branches then the circus would be over and our government would have to do something.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • solex

      This already happened. During Bush's first term as president, during the mid term elections the repubs held majorities in the house, Senate, and they had the white house. What happened?

      Tax cuts for the rich, subsidies for oil companies that raked in billions in profits, laws passed making it much more difficult to declare bankruptcy and also legislation absolving big phrams of any lawsuits due to their non compete policies.

      So you will pardon me if I do not want that to happen again.

      November 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  19. Mommytwice

    The basic issue here is that there is no place for religion in politics, Ever, for any reason., This is not a theocracy, it is a republic. Perry's "God" voice can send him anywhere it likes, but there's no place for that in the White House.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You said it!

      November 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
  20. solex

    I KNOW that there are conscientious, religous people who truly care about living a pious and righteous life. They eschew monetary gain, give of their time to those less fortunate and are truly humble and live bu the tenets of their religion.

    Rick Perry is NOT one of those people. He is pandering for votes and people know it.

    The scariest TV interview I ever saw showed a reporter conducting exit polls during the last election cycle. When asked whom she voted for, a white, middle-aged woman answered "I voted for the man of god". When asked how she felt about the position of candidates on things like health care, jobs, the economy, the wars, the debt, etc. she replied:

    "As long as Jesus is his savior that is all that matters".

    Scary when you think that people vote this way.

    November 7, 2011 at 12:50 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.