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.
I am one Soldier that has lost complete faith in my country. This guy wants to use religion for personal gain. This after knowing what his party is doing to my president and this country. Kill the unions, destroy social security which by the way was tapped in to in order to help pay for the wars, obstruct and then lie about everything, Cut eduacation, planned parenthood, welfare, cause havoc with raising the debt and then pin it on the prsident, military retirement, say that we can't INVEST in infrastructure. But we need money for weapons (defense Contractors). Medicare / Medicade. And many other programs and this nut calls himself a Christian? REALLY?
The State Republican Executive Committee is considering a resolution calling on Gov. Rick Perry to grant a pardon to former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on his recent money laundering conviction .
Rick Perry / Todd Willingham 2012
Leadership / Justice / Forgiveness
Man this Guy no more a Christian than I'm him. This Is the Same Texas GOV that wanted his state to Secede from the Union. This man should be put In Jail For treason. He nothing but a nut cases.
why did you not report on the number that attended?was it more or less than estimated? by not reporting this, you either do not wish to embarrass perry because of low turnout or you wish to hide the fact that it was a successful event. so which is it? you report then we decide. maybe msnbc has the number of attendees. I';ll check.
Blast away, "BLAME" Party. Little good it will do you. Texas is rising again.
The republicans are to blame for our credit downgrading. All to save the rich !
As a Christian I would be very leary of Perry as mixing politics and religion is exactly what Judas Iscariot did. My gut reaction to Perry is I see him as more of a potential Judas or Deciever than a Christian.
This is what Christrian religious conservatives want. They want the mixture of politics and religion as long as it is their religious views controling the legislature. No public official should be mixed up with a religious event.
And yet, these same evangelicals want to ban Sharia law in the U.S. It boggles the mind. Re: the troops killed in Afghanistan; who cares? It's not like they've won a war in 60 years and even then, the Russians and British did all of the heavy lifting in Europe. But I guess there are mineral rights and pipeline routes to secure so the trailer trash don their camos and get shipped off en masse to the dusty nether regions while the banksters count their blood-money.
Rick Perry sounds and seems to be quite a leader. Hope we get some one with his morals to run for President
Career politician Rick Perry denounces government intervention and threatens secession for our formerly great state of Texas. His self-proclaimed track record of job creation never includes the fact that those jobs are menial and low paying, and his proclamation that he balances the budget doesn't mention that he needed billions of federal assistance and the most drastic cutbacks in social services. He would rather pay his camaign contributors to build prisons to house the mentally ill than provide treatment for them. He is a deeply distorted individual.
I believe Americans need to pray for divine guidance.
Just what we need, another Presidential hopeful that spouts God and then uses hate or racial induendos in his talks. Haven't we had more then enough of this nonsense? I'm religious but don't need to preach it. I want plans and ideas not religious speeches.
Is this joker incapable of taking a photo that doesn't make him look like a cartoon character?
I'd like to say, not all of us Texans follow Perry blindly. Nor are we all unsophisticated hicks who can't put a rational thought together. There are some of us who are well-educated and understand the issues of politics. With that said, I do apologize that his Tea-Bagger is getting more than 5 minutes of attention on the national media. We intelligent Texans are ashamed.
Fear, anger and discord that charlatans and opportunists like you instilled, Governor. And as for praying for comfort for those afflicted by the economy, how about you quit paying God mere lip service and actually DO SOMETHING to help people as opposed to continually spitting in their faces to benefit your rich pals?
"Ye shall know them by their fruits." It would be gracious to see business people become inspired enough by these prayers to consider adding extra staff. Even some middle class folks might find hiring domestic help to be mutually beneficial.
If I wanted a Theocracy, I'd move to effing Iran. Keep religion and all right-wing extremists out of politics.
WOW! I feel comforted already! I saw a light in the clouds and heard celestial harps, and a voice telling me, "Go forth, my son, hie thee to the nearest mall and spend thy shekels and thus stimulate the economy." Gosh am I impressed! And I didn't even pray for the businesses yet!
“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. WOW! I know JUST what he means! He's like an Abe Lincoln in loafers! I ALWAYS think of Rick Perry as a Lincolnesque figure, just without the slave-freeing part or the stuff about leading a nation in war or uniting a divided country. Otherwise, he's JUST LIKE Honest Abe, only without the "honest" part!
Glen Beck lost his job grandstanding like this. Perry is delusional just like Beck is
Wow! Talk about the blind leading the blind...
So where were these events in 2008 when the nation was in crisis, emboiled in war, and financially on the ropes? Oh wait, the Republicans were in the White House.
Non-Christians should be afraid of what this man will do to them should he become President.
Give me a break! I am sick to death of the political types turning to God for their political ambitions. If ya'll can't get elected on your own merit then don't run.