Houston (CNN) – Turning a Houston football stadium into a Texas-sized mega-church, Gov. Rick Perry took a political leap of faith just as he is contemplating a run for president.
The potential GOP contender delivered a script laced with Scripture at Saturday’s daylong prayer and fasting event, dubbed “The Response.”
On stage for just 10 minutes, Perry called on God’s help to comfort Americans reeling from the nation’s troubled economy.
“I love this country deeply,” Perry said.
The governor read from the Book of Joel, a chapter of the Old Testament that calls for repentance in times of hardship.
Leading thousands of worshippers in prayer, Perry made a direct appeal to the heavens.
“Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government and as a nation we have forgotten who made us,” Perry prayed.
In an apparent gesture to critics who have accused him of mixing prayer and politics, Perry joked, “God is wise enough not to be affiliated with any political party.”
Other speakers at the event also prayed for divine intervention to get the economy moving.
“Pray for the economy. Pray for businesses. Pray for jobs,” Doug Stringer, the event’s national mobilization coordinator said.
The gathering of church-goers, evangelical pastors and conservative activists was part revival, part rock concert. Organizers said the event was open to all faiths. But the message from the stage was decidedly Christian.
“Mercy Jesus. Jesus have mercy,” Luis Cataldo, pastor of the International House of Prayer, shouted to the worshippers.
A few dozen protesters, who gathered outside the stadium, accused the governor of violating the nation’s long-standing tradition of separating church and state
“Gov. Perry, as the governor of the second-largest state in the U.S.A., should not be participating in a prayer rally in his official capacity as a governor,” Stephanie Vogt said at the protest.
Other protesters blasted Perry for co-hosting the event with the American Family Association, a conservative group that has labeled gay rights activists “Nazis.”
“I think it's reprehensible for him associate himself with these groups, these hate groups. I don't want my governor doing that. I don't want any leader doing that,” Bryan Veazey, a gay civil rights supporter, said.
At a July news conference in the state capital, Perry said it was unfair to tie him to all the event’s participants.
But critics say Perry can’t have it both ways, appealing to Christian conservatives while keeping a distance from controversial statements coming from what liberals regard as “the religious right.”
One lead pastor at “The Response,” televangelist John Hagee, once said God allowed the Holocaust to happen to lead Jewish people to Israel.
On stage, Hagee praised Perry’s spiritual leadership at the event.
“We pray for our Gov. Rick Perry, who has had the courage together to call this kind of fasting and prayer just as Abraham Lincoln did in the darkest days of the Civil War,” Hagee prayed.
For the most part, speakers at the event steered clear of hot-button social issues.
Pastor John Postel, who leads the God and Country Church Fellowship in the Houston area, approved of the event’s religious appeal for economic salvation.
“I think God is the help to anything,” Postel said.
Many worshippers at the gathering said they were more focused on the message, not the high-profile messenger.
“I didn’t come here for Rick Perry. I came for the day of prayer,” Glenda Sherrod said.
It’s unclear whether “The Response” helped or hurt Perry’s chances for 2012.
In the coming days, he will be answering a different calling, from GOP fund-raisers and activists who would like to see the governor jump into the 2012 race.
Sorry, no more moronic Christian conservative Texas Governors for the US. The last one was all anyone could stand.
Was Perry praying no one remembers that he advocated seceding from the Union? Not gonna work.
A bunch of hypocrites. They are in the same boat as the TP's. They all contributed with their Repubs friends to the state of the US economy and did not say a word almost driving the car off the cliff. In came Barack Obama trying to straighten the steering wheel and now they are blaming him for everythinhg. God have mercy on all your souls
Have you people never heard of David Koresh? Try looking up the travesty that happened in Waco, Tx. This man (Perry) is a fraud and a religious fanatic, translation, fake Christian. Don't get me wrong, I am a believer, but this man is using his position and religion to get votes. He is the epitome of the name charlaton.
How's that separation of church and state working for ya?
PLEASE – separate religion from state!!!!
I heard he invited all the other Governors, how many showed up? Hope he runs, love to see Perry and Bachmann try to out right each other, gonna be funnier than the Three Stooges (and there are only two of them)... Oh, what a time to be a late night comedian!!!
How many were there? Not even an estimate?
Did Rick put any money in the offering plate? If so, was it the kind that folded or jingled? God knows his heart...wicked and deceitful. What a crook and sham artist!
It's okay for Perry to be on the "mountain top" to deliver a religious message. But he MIXES the message, only ONE will come out – He lost many voters today. Not that they were going to help him win in the first place!!!
There were far, far more than "a few dozen" protestrrs there. But of course unlike the Republican party and conservative right, the protesters don't contribute financially to CNN, so..
Not much you could really call political, in his words. If the media wants to read it that way, that's up to them, but it simply isn't true.
I would never, in my wildest dreams, ever think of voting for this walking, talking hair piece to be the President of our country.
Has anyone noticed that since Obama became president and during the years the liberals controlled Congress that our nation started on a hugh downslide? The press and news media have gotten more radical and don't express the views of the people they serve. Our economy has tanked. Unemployment is terrible. Homeless children record high in USA. People walking away from their home/mortgage. More robberies/thieves/murders. For the first time in my many, many years, I am ashamed of this country.
Dear Author, Its so funny to me that you call yourself a journalist yet you do no real research. The only things I see coming out of CNN are intolerance and bigotry, articles full of manipulation and false facts. Too bad 28,000 American sane voters who have their eyes open to reality.
Correction* Almost 30,000 sane citizens of America showed up in Houston for Perry's Prayer Rally. Lets see a article on that, I bet $1 million bucks you wont even mention it, yet you prematurely wrote an article to defame and belittle Christians, SHAME ON YOU. #i'veSeenBetterJournalismOnTwitter
Perry has a lot of explaining to do....pandering to the social conservative religious right. Can he be trusted to defend the rights of all Americans?
So, now that President wannabe Rick "Elmer Gantry" Perry is officially on the record for holding his religious bigoted rally today, would any one vote for this clown to run all 50 states?
I wonder if Perry would approve if President Obama had a prayer rally just for Muslims, or Jews, or Mormans?
The USA has had one dishonest greed-driven hyper-partisan Republican cowboy as President that degreglated business and never leveled with the American people. As a result, the rich and big corporations no longer pay fair taxes, the middle class is shriking from job losses, and the number of poor exceed needy program budgets.
I urge a No Vote on Perry. Its no longer safe to vote for any Republicans because they vote in lock-step together.
So let me get this straight: When Obama does stuff like this, which he essentially done dozens of times (eg faith based rallies, mass prayers, etc), its considered refreshing, but when Perry does it, he's a right-wing nutjob out of touch with people? Really?
If Obama got a free pass for sharing the stage with controversial religious zealots, why shouldn't Perry?
Is he ordained or is he called?
Once the attendees finished proclaiming their love for Christ and his teachings of tolerance and acceptance at this event, they then returned home to resume spewing their hatred and contempt for liberals, Muslims, illegal alien, homosexuals and anyone who disagrees with their stands on abortion and creationism.
"I like your Christ. Christians, not so much." – M. Gandhi
There's something dark and creepy about Rick Perry. Maybe it's that he says he loves this country deeply, but has in the past talked secession of Texas from the Union.
The Ayatollah Rick looked more like he was self-annointing himself at this "prayer" rally; Rick Perry's totally lacking in any humility whatsoever. When I saw Rick Perry on the news grinning, I thought, wasn't it Napoleon who grabbed the crown out of the pope's hands and crowned himself? And good thing is that if by chance it rains in Texas, Perry can claim he was responsible for getting God to relent. But if God decides not give Texas any rain, Perry can continue to claim that there are still too many sinners in Texas...and he can order more executions in the name of Jesus. I'll bet Rick Perry has NEVER prayed for or even thought about U.S. soldiers in the war zones.
There has also been alot evil committed in the name of God.