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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. Answer

    I'll post the third consecutive piece ..

    When your world is built on the exclusive use of magic you innately have to explain that the foundation of the virtues of morals have to be defined from a deity. Otherwise you have no foundation BUT to accept that we were once barbarians. Barbarians that taught ourselves language and communications. Along with those – civilization and then your religion that was SPAWNED by people who knew HOW to exploit us.

    November 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Answer

      @Concerned Catholic

      You know you are living in the fragments of a delusion. Magic was your answer to the question of god. All you have is magic NOT explanations.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • V

      This doesn't scan very well, but I think I understand what you are saying. I'm not sure what you mean by "barbarian". Someone living in a time and place where things were better?

      November 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  2. Shelby

    perry is an opportunist charlatan.

    Following is an excerpt from a recent San Antonio Express piece that gives yet another example of perry’s disgusting opportunism:

    Perry has not overburdened the collection plate

    Governor's modest religious donations are raising eyebrows.

    “Perry's top income year since becoming governor came in 2007 when he reported $1,092,810 in adjusted gross income. .... His total charitable cash contributions that year totaled $413.”

    November 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  3. Amelia

    I think Perry would be wise to not use his religious platform as a political platform.

    November 7, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  4. Reality

    From p. 63:

    Dear Governor Perry,

    Putting the final kibosh on religion:

    • There was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    Added details available.

    November 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • No trespassing

      Please, we're begging you. No more 'added details' in the form of giant endless copy-pasting.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      My question for you is what do you believe in? Any kind of faith takes guts to believe in because it's not tangible and you can't feel it. Believing in something you don't fully understand is not easy. Why do you feel the need to attack religion? Why do you feel the need to put people down for believing in various faiths?

      November 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Answer

      @Concerned Catholic

      Why do you need to be a Catholic?

      November 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      I'm not saying you need to be Catholic. I'm simply saying that it takes guts to believe in any kind of faith. Especially because there are elements of every faith that believers just don't understand.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Answer

      @Concerned Catholic

      So you're suggesting that you have more "guts"? Hmm then.. what about those muslims that blow themselves and their guts out to prove that they have more guts?

      You're on a slippery scope on your argument. What you want to say is that I want to be a Catholic because you are convince that this path leads to god. Which is debatable. Which you willingly do not acknowledge as debatable.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      First I mentioned all religions. Don't put words in my mouth. Each religion has it's own set of values and beliefs in a way of getting to God. I am more than willing to say that there is more than one path to God. As far as the terrorists are concerned they use religion as an excuse to harm and hurt people. That is completely wrong and I believe it's wrong. I think we can agree that when religion is used to hurt people that is wrong.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      Also as far as me having more guts than you, that's not what i'm saying. I'm simply saying that it takes a willingness to put your trust and faith in something you don't fully understand. That takes guts no matter what religion you believe in and no matter who you are.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Answer

      I can agree that any form of misuse is wrong. Especially in the use of ignorance from religion.

      "Each religion has it's own set of values and beliefs in a way of getting to God." This is the ultimate controversy that your ilk likes to put forth as your barrier of defense. You can not imagine that humans just develop them and pass them down from what we have learned. Any moment you will claim the exclusive use that religion is the wellspring of virtues. Garbage.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Answer

      @Catholic

      Long before any religion there were just the primitives. Barking grunts and using hand gestures to communicate! With their primitive minds came the need for survival. That is the history of man.

      Your kind 'think' that all this was DELIVERED from your invisible friend. What a crock! Failure to see reality for what we once were.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      @Answer focuses on our humble beginnings and reminds us of our current fallen condition. He serves a purpose in God's plan. "The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."

      November 7, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bob

      @concerned, you said "I'm simply saying that it takes a willingness to put your trust and faith in something you don't fully understand. "

      Actually, it seems just plain foolish to put trust and faith in something, if you don't understand it. Reasonable doubt is called for, at best. Maybe you should reconsider your faith; it doesn't seem justified.

      November 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • Reality

      Some added details:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection/Easter Con:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      November 8, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Reality

      And more details:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      November 8, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  5. drew

    Oh I'd be more than just a nuthin', My head all full of stuffin', My heart all full of pain. I could be another Lincoln, with the things that I am thinkin', If I only had a brain. Gee scarecrow I don't think we're in Austin anymore.

    November 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  6. westward

    Perry is a pos candidate. Can't believe the author even wasted his time on this article. NO WHERE NEAR GOOD ENOUGH GOP!

    November 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  7. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    The abortion pill, also known as mifepristone or RU-486 ("medical abortion" or "medication abortion"), is a different drug from ella, Plan B One-Step, Plan B, or Next Choice, which are approved for sale as emergency contraception in the United States. Emergency contraceptive pills (also called “morning after pills" or "day after pills") prevent pregnancy primarily, or perhaps exclusively, by delaying or inhibiting ovulation; they do not cause an abortion. For more about how emergency contraceptive pills work, read this comprehensive academic review of emergency contraception.

    Mifepristone, which is sold in the United States under the brand name Mifeprex, works differently from levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step or Next Choice) or ulipristal acetate (ella) emergency contraceptive pills. When given after a pregnancy has started, mifepristone stops the development of a pregnancy (which happens once a fertilized egg implants in the uterus). This drug is approved for use in early abortions in the United States, and many other countries. At a far lower dose, mifepristone has been shown to also be effective for preventing pregnancy, like emergency contraceptive pills, but it is only available for this use in China and Vietnam.

    ------
    This is for CHAD, who can't tell his azz from a hole in the ground.

    November 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Nate

      To borrow some of your appropriate words, chad is an azzhole with his head in the ground.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Or he's in a hole in the ground with his head up his....well, you can figure it out.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  8. stars

    It sounds like to me from this article that Perry doesn't know the bible which is central to Christianity. He disagrees that Mormonism is cultish, although revelations, nearing the last verse states nobody should add or take away from the book. That is exactly what mormonism has done. He feels comfortable in Catholicism which has focus on virgin Mary, clearly not biblical. Yet, his faith is "growing" and he has a mission from God without fully knowing God's word. Interesting

    November 7, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • No trespassing

      Let me get this straight – are you saying he's not Christian enough? Or the *right kind* of Christian? Because that is comedy gold.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      The Virgin Mary is entirely biblical. I suggest you go back and read the gospels. Luke in particular. There you'll find Mary and her importance to the Christian faith, particularly Catholicism. Also the Bible is not the be all end all of Christianity. The early Christians did not have a Bible until the 4th century and they did just find in spreading the Word of God. One question I have for you is how do you know what is in the man's heart and what his relationship with God is like. You have no idea what Mr. Perry's relationship with God is like, so what makes you think you can comment on something you don't know.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • JT

      It depends on the audience Perry is speaking to. When he is speaking to non-evangelicals he tries to tone down his Taliban-like beliefs. His true self is that is is an evangelical where everyone else is in a cult or evil atheist.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • Yusuf

      Assalaam Alaykum (peace be with you)

      @Concerned Catholic : The Virgin Mary is entirely biblical?

      I would like to point out that the Virgin Mary (May the Lord be pleased with her) is one of the most important women in Islam. As She is the mother of Jesus Christ, the Messiah (Peace be upon Him) (Isa ibn Maryam in Arabic). The Holy Qur'an dedicates a whole chapter for her – Chapter 19 called "Maryam" (Mary).

      The name Mary means maidservant of Allah.

      ***

      Qur'an Account of Maryam's Birth

      The Noble Qur'an Al-'Imran 3: verse 35-37

      35. (Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: "O my Lord! I have vowed to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for Your services (free from all worldly work; to serve Your Place of worship), so accept this, from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing."

      36. Then when she delivered her [child Maryam (Mary)], she said: "O my Lord! I have delivered a female child," – and Allah knew better what she delivered, – "And the male is not like the female, and I have named her Maryam (Mary), and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast."

      37. So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariya (Zachariya). Every time he entered Al-Mihrab to (visit) her , he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Maryam (Mary)! From where have you got this?" She said, "This is from Allah." Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whom He wills, without limit."

      ***

      In Islam, Maryam (may Allah be pleased with her) is not a divine being, but a humble, pios, woman who submitted to the will of Allah.

      Peace!

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

      @Yussef

      dribble dribble. spout spout.

      Convincing yourself that Mary wasn't just a dog's name that ate the soup? All women submit to men in your society, just how and fine that way you morons like it. Change will be the end of your whole religion. Your ignorant rantings of your god is relevant only when you have power. It will be gone one day and your whole crappy religion will fall.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      @ Yusuf I agree with what you are saying as far as Mary being found in other religions. I was simply trying to make the point that the Virgin Mary is in fact found in the Bible and is an important figure in Christianity, particularly Catholicism.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Bob

      stars, re "Perry doesn't know the bible which is central to Christianity", yeah, he doesn't seem to want to get into all that bloody animal sacrificing that your god demands that you do in that awful book. He seems fine with killing humans though, just like the example that your murderous, vengeful god sets.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • ashrakay

      Fairies have 6 wings, not 4!

      November 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  9. Ricnaustin

    " 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.”

    What part of separation of church and state do I not understand. This country is based on religious freedom, from the White House to the farm. I endorse peoples personal religious beliefs, but the enforce personal beliefs onto me thru "religious" government policy is not okay.

    Seems he has no problem receiving huge gifts from big guys at the expense of the rest of us. What part of this conviction do I not understand?

    Anita claims they keep their faith quiet, yet Perry spoke at a huge rally in Houston. What part of keep one's faith quiet do I not understand?

    Perry wants Washington inconsequential but continues to recieves copious amounts of federal benefits to balance the Texas budget, yet wants to go to Washington to instill his personal beliefs on the rest of us. What part of inconsequential don't I understand?

    I'll stop while I'm ahead.

    November 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • gager

      This country was not founded on religious values. That is absurd. If you knew the founding fathers and history, a person would not make that mistake.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      Clearly gager has limited understanding of the founding fathers himself. The founding fathers were in fact Christian. They were Deists who believed in a "hands off" kind of God. They looked at God as the Supreme Being who set things in motion, but backed off after that.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Nate

      Way to contradict yourself, concerned sh!thead catholic. Deists are not necessarily Christians, and several of the founding fathers despised christianity, to put it mildly.

      See here. http://www.skeptically.org/thinkersonreligion/id9.html

      At bible thumpers we laugh. Take your sick catholic beliefs and go bug-ger the pope with them. He likes that.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  10. Ran

    How soon we forget Mr. President Bush.....who also had a mission from God. Look how that turned out.

    November 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • V

      Not the kind of mission where no soldier gets left behind.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  11. BigBang

    I contend that Perry and I are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than he does. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.

    November 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • stars

      Dismiss all you want, but one day you will wish you had faith.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'stars' contains a form of the fallacy known as Pascal's Wager.

      Oh, just google it already.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • No trespassing

      Stars is trying to say, "Or all y'all be goin' to HELL!"

      November 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  12. DiscipleofElijah

    I've studied the Bible for nearly 40 years and I don't recall a passage where God called on someone to be a politician.

    At times God gave various prophets great powers, i.e. to call down fire from heaven, to shut off the rain, etc. On Thursday April 21, 2011 Gov. Perry issued a proclamation for days of prayer for rain in Texas (April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011). Apparently Gov. Perry was not vested with any special powers since his day of prayer for rain didn't work out so well.

    I believe that God hears all Christians prayers, but for whatever reason God did not respond to the Governor's proclamation.

    When God sent a prophet or other on a "mission" God provided the means for them to achieve their goal. We will know when the GOP/tp nominee is selected if Gov. Perry was truly on a "mission" from God or just a Rick Perry "mission".

    November 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Brad

      Perhaps God's plan and mission for Rick Perry involves him to remaining 4th in the polls.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  13. JT

    Perry grew up in a theocracy, His small hometown was controled by Baptists who dictated their twisted delusional world view onto all the citizens from how to dress to retarding the teaching of science in schools. They controlled all local government including school boards. This is the world of Rick Perry and he's bcome even more crazy now that he's gone evangelical.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  14. Sober Guy

    Only God knows who is a good and who is evil. By putting on an act to get American votes is not going to help anymore. This guy is fooling around the Americans. He wants to get elected to start more wars and invade more countries. Should never vote for this crazy man.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • ThatGuy

      stop posting befor u start a debate on religon........god sucks

      November 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • stars

      @ThatGuy: people like you with no belief or hateful belief really do not fit into a "belief" post. Can you refrain?

      November 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • non-Christian

      stars, no, we're here because stupid deluded wingnuts like you impact public policy, so we have to step in and show how stupid your beliefs in fairy tales are.

      Next question please, you moron.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • non-Christian

      "Sober Guy", which of the thousands of gods that mankind has posited are you referring to? Surely not the absurd Christian one; judging from his book of horrors, he's just a nasty and spiteful jerk, and can't even get his own story straight without contradictions.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      stars, you must be really stupid if you think people who want our country to remain a secular one, and to continue to abide by the separation of church and state are going to let religious nuts run for election without questioning them and their motives.

      People who are atheists or agnostics have every right to be here-the last time I checked, you weren't in charge of this forum and freedom of expression is still intact.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Concerned Catholic

      @ non christian Clearly you have never even opened a Bible let alone tried reading from it.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • MomOf3

      @Tom –
      If Perry is elected (which is a long shot...), your statement will read as below:

      "People who are atheists or agnostics have every right to be here-the last time I checked, you weren't in charge of this forum and freedom of expression is still intact...for now!"

      November 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I agree, Mom, but he's not even close to being selected by his party, much less be elected. It is, as you say, a long shot.

      November 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Bob

      @concerned, sounds like nonChristian has read your bible quite well. Check out Leviticus, and remember that your dead guy on a stick said that the laws of the OT still apply.

      But then again, non-Christians seem to know the bible better than Christians do, generally. Maybe you should try giving your book of horrors a more careful read.

      November 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  15. Sober Guy

    Republicans using all the tactics to get American votes and to bankrupt America. America lost the AAA rating first time because of these Fake religious warmongers. Jesus never said to go and invade other countries and kill a million Iraqis. These republicans have been using these tactics for a long time .

    November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  16. ThatGuy

    Raptor Jesus will save only the ones with the most suculent livers

    November 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • stars

      I can honestly say that you are a fool

      November 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • non-Christian

      I can honestly say that stars is a stupid, deluded sissy.

      November 7, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • No trespassing

      I can honestly say liver is gross.

      November 7, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  17. jon

    Why don't this guys on a "mission", just have a mission to GO AWAY? When some of these yokels actually do get elected, they just rip us a new one anyway.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  18. Bob

    Rick Perry is an alien. He has plastic hair.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  19. jimbo

    If evangelicals have thier way they will control this country and murder those that disagree with them just like muslims in the middle east, all in the name of their religion and righteousness. Seriously, these people are wacko and ruin the right side of politics for me.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • V

      Where is Batman when you need him?

      November 7, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  20. c

    Is this the same Rick Perry who said he didn't feeling anything when puting a man to death.

    November 7, 2011 at 1:28 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.