Perry hits Obama for war on faith, despite a ghost of 'holiday season' past
December 7th, 2011
04:32 PM ET
7 years ago

Perry hits Obama for war on faith, despite a ghost of 'holiday season' past

(CNN) - Rick Perry doubled down on his religion-based attack of President Barack Obama Wednesday, saying the president was preventing students from celebrating Christmas in schools. But just last year, Perry issued a holiday statement as governor of Texas that omits any mention of the Christian holiday.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Perry said Obama and the political left were waging a "war on religious traditions," including preventing students from praying in schools and having Christmas parties.

"What we're seeing from the left, of which I would suggest to you, President Obama is a member of the left and substantial left-of-center beliefs, that you can't even have a Christmas party. You can't say a prayer at school," Perry said in an interview airing on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

But in a holiday statement to troops issued by his office on Dec. 22, 2010 and posted on the governor's website, Perry fails to mention Christmas at all, sticking instead to more general terms like "holiday season."

"During this holiday season, remember to thank a first responder or salute a veteran for their service and pray for God's protection on them and their families," Perry said.

The concern over Christmas was part of a larger attempt by Perry to attack the president on religious grounds, an effort that also included a television ad, released in Iowa Wednesday, that paints a similar picture of the Obama's policies.

"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian, but you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school," Perry says in the ad.

In the interview Wednesday, Perry said he stood by the spot.

"I'm very comfortable and with that ad," Perry said. "For one thing, my faith is part of me. The values that I learned in my Christian upbringing will affect my governing."

Perry said the Obama administration was executing a war on religious values by restricting federal funds to certain organizations.

"When you talk to the bishops of the Catholic Church, there is clearly an agenda by this administration to go after those Catholic charities that are offering health care, doing work or trafficking of individuals," Perry said.

"The administration is clearly sending messages to people of faith and organizations of faith that we're not going to support you with federal dollars," Perry continued.

Perry also mentioned he had yet to make a decision about participating in a debate sponsored by reality television star Donald Trump, saying he had planned a bus tour through Iowa on the same date, and wasn't sure if his schedule would allow participating in the Trump event.

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Filed under: 2012 • Religion • Rick Perry • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. Dixie AZ

    Perry and Trump are cut from the same cloth, though Unlike Perry, Donald chooses to wear a dead squirrel on his head.

    December 8, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. Ron Hiller

    Yesterday superChristian, Rick Perry, received an endorsement from television preacher, Rev. John Hagey. This occurred on the same day that Rick Perry was courting the Jewish vote in New York. CNN also showed a clip yesterday of Rev. Hagey saying that all who have not confessed their sins and become born-again believers in Jesus Christ are going straight to Hell for all eternity. This leave me a bit confused; either Rick Perry agrees with Hagey that all Jews are (upon their deaths) going straight Hell for all eternity, or he is in serious disagreement with Rev. Hagey’s theology. Which is it?

    December 8, 2011 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  3. realitybites

    Christmas. Dec 25th . Roman holiday celebrating the winter soltice and immaculate birth of The God of the Sun whom Constantine was a follower of and equated w/ God. Constantine was the 1st Holy Roman Emporer and was also the same man who commissioned religious authorities to compile the Bible. Christmas wasn't even a focus of the church until a couple hundred years after the death of Jesus and American churches primarily didn't even have Christmas services until the mid 19th century. In God We Trust and Under God Indevisable were officially injected by a conservative congress ini the 1950's. Perry is complaining that the Federal Govt isn't giving $ to religious organizations when religious lobbying groups have increased 40% since the early 70's and pour tons of money into Washingon and folks like himself. Funny that they have all that $ to try to overturn laws that they don't agree with, but want to complain when the Federal Government doesn't want to pander to them. I say tax them all. Apparentlly they have the $ for it. Millionaire plastic preachers like Joel Osteen living high on the hog off of the desparate ignorance of folks who what to be told how to think and live should have to pay higher taxes too. Perry is a desparate and ignorant fool regurgitating Bill O'Really's crap. Go back to Texas and make your preacher richer, you dolt.

    December 8, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  4. anagram_kid

    Remember how Jesus said it was everyone’s responsibility to take care of themselves and if they were not fed, housed and clothed that was their problem? Remember how he preached tirelessly about abortion and gays? Remember how much emphasis he put on the importance of judging and condemning others? Me neither.

    December 8, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Rudy NYC


    Christian not suppose to lie. If perry is real christian why he lie about something he knows he's not true.
    If Rick Perry were the devout Christian that he leads us to believe, then why is he involved in politics at all?

    December 8, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Rbnlegnd101

    I would support a candidate who was waging a war on christmas decorations and sales that start before thanksgiving.

    Rick is playing to the common theme that christians are persecuted. The underdog always gets sympathy, and it's a great play, if the claim is believable. I can look around and see that christmas is doing just fine without Rick's efforts to defend it, and as the old saying goes, "as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school". Being able to pray in school is very different from being able to exhibit your prayer to others in school. You can pray all you want, what you can't do is present that prayer as something that other people's kids have to be exposed to, or participate in.

    December 8, 2011 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  7. Dave Harris

    Every year, nut-job Christians drag out the whole "war on Christmas" thing, claiming that they're oppressed because they can't tell everybody else what to do. Rick Perry is not holier than anybody. He's a jerk and a bully. Even the brain-dead Republicans don't like him.

    December 8, 2011 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. Caro

    ::sigh:: I would like to apologize to the rest of the nation for the fact my native state keeps growing fools as a domestic and import crop.

    Gov. Perry - stop making my Lord and Savior look small-minded, small-souled and just plain mean. Many Christians don't feel this way and you don't speak for all of us. Stop acting like you do.

    December 8, 2011 11:26 am at 11:26 am |

    Good I don't want MY tax dollars going to support these cults and their indoctrination of our children. The reverend Jim Jones (aka perry) are simply to stupid to understand that NOT all people are in his cult they may have other beliefs that he may not share. I don't want my kids chanting in class over some "god" I'd rather they be learning math, history if they want to pray then they can go to sunday services in a CHURCH.

    December 8, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. RINO Bil

    Rick Perry should just grow a pair and call Obama the antichrist, just like the few evangelical christian supporters he las left demand.

    This entire non-issue shows that Rick Perry's campaign is running on EMPTY.

    December 8, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. JS

    Boy this guy is desperate. Obama spent two years essentially proving that he's a Christian, yet now Perry is trying to claim a war on Christmas? Did it even occur to him that the politicization of Christmas may do much more damage to the holiday and to the church than a restriction that says you can't have mandatory prayer in a public school but that voluntary prayer is ok? Sometimes I wonder if this guy is running for president or pope.

    December 8, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. Jane

    I am not a Christian, but I would imagine that if Jesus was here listening so some of the hateful crap that is spewing from the mouths of the so-called Christian right, he would weep. I was under the impression that the teachings of Christ were about love and understanding – not forcing others to your point of view through a political campaign filled with hatred, selfishness and hypocrisy.

    December 8, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |

    Perry,.. a man of faith, a Christian,.. who knows no pity or remorse,.. how many executions of inmates has he signed off on,.. how many has he reprieved?.. What would Jesus say?

    December 8, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. gg

    what does peery want to be pope or president–who in the top 1% does he pray too

    December 8, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Jewelgirl

    OK guys, listen up...I'm a born Texan and I didn't vote for George W. and I didn't vote for Perry. So we are not all stupid and rednecks here. Still listening...Look at our records, education rank, new jobs income, etc. Perry is a career politician. He has been waiting to slap POTUS on his resume all of his life. His doesn't debate well because he never has. He can't address the facts because he doesn't know them. He thought his good looks (I don't see it) and good old southern charm would get him there. Pitiful!!!

    December 8, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. conniesz

    Of course kids can celebrate Christmas and say prayers in school – they just can't expect everyone to join them or for a teacher to lead them. There is absolutely NOTHING preventing kids from gathering between classes to sing, pray, whatever – as long as they don't attempt to intimidate or convert anyone else. Freedom is just as much about freedom from as freedom to. They have the freedom to pray but others have the freedom to not pray. Pretty straight forward.

    December 8, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Paul

    To Perry's question of "Which of the Ten Commandments do you not like" - Here's my answer: "Celebrate the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the year." Look it up.

    December 8, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Norps

    Since when can't kids pray in school? I thought prayer and religion was a private matter. If a kid wants to (chooses of their own free will) to quietly say a prayer to themselves, what is stopping them? I think what there is a war on ( and rightly so) is the attempts by christians to define this nation as a christian nation, when in reality all religions have religious freedom, (A point they will not admit for any other religion than christianity).

    December 8, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. argue_dis

    The evangelical right and the muslims have all the same beliefs: prayer in school, no separation of religion and state, dislike of foreigners, love of conspiracy theories, anti-gay, anti-abortion, no belief in the science that is the basis for understanding evolution, guns for everyone, capital punishment etc. They tick all the same boxes. The only difference is which prophet they follow.

    December 8, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  20. Jack

    This man is insane. Yeah, I don't think kids should pray in public school. Which prayer would you choose? Jewish? Muslim? Which Christian prayer? How about Jehovah's Witnesses? Idiot. We went through this in the 50s. It's been resolved. My parents wanted us to get a religious education. They were poor. They denied themselves things to pay to send us to Parochial School. We had a nice Catholic education. If anyone else wants their kids to have a religious education send them to a religious school - not to a public school. I went to public HS and my classmates were Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc. We never said prayers in school. We never worshipped in school. Most of us turned out pretty darn well. Home, was were we learned religion. School was were we learned English, French, Calculus, Chemistry, Biology (no problem with evolution here, by the way–we learned about it and never felt conflicted) etc. Maybe in Frog Hollow, Texas, where eveyone goes to the same church you feel a need to take over the local schools but, in the rest of America we don't have a problem with keeping religion separate from our public schools.

    December 8, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. carly

    Time for Perry to fold his hand and go home. Everyone knows Perry is a loser. Someone needs to wake him up and tell him this fact.

    December 8, 2011 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  22. Expat American

    Rick Perry sure brings the pain. And the chuckles.
    Rick Perry is barely intelligent enough to sell discount plastic Christmas trees in a dollar store parking lot. But he is good for a few laughs – especially when his Texas-sized mouth leads his feet to step in another pile of cow patties and starts waving his Big Ol’ Bible around to cover his gaffs.
    I’m putting a couple poker chips on the wager that he’s going to punch out one of his fellow GOP candidates at the next debate. I’d like to see him punch out Trump then turn around and execute a cobra strike on Newt.

    So the 'Left' is waging war on Religion now....heeheeheeheeehee...I love it!

    Where did Jesus go to get the best deal on his Christmas tree?

    December 8, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. 5041360

    perry is looking for job on Fox- he is totatlly unemployable any place else- Fox is the graveyard for republicans!

    December 8, 2011 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. John

    I am from Texas and even we don't want Perry.

    December 8, 2011 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. John

    Faith based organizations should NEVER get government funding at any level (local, sate, or federal). That is why they are refered to as "faith based". If they can't perform their ministry by faith and the donations that generates, then may be God doesn't intend for them to do that work. Food for thought perhaps?

    December 8, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
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