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

    Where do I volunteer for a war ON religion? I'm ready to fight to rid the world of this cancer on humanity!

    December 8, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. mike

    Perry, you have nothing, so you invoke God. I'll bet you speak to him every morning, and he tells you what to do, and you are doing God's work, right?

    Politicians like Perry are what drive a nation into becoming a fascistg theocracy such as is Iran or Afghanistan. Using religion, playing the "I am wholier than thou" doesn't end until people are getting their hands cut-off for "sins", and praying on a state-sanctioned schedule. This is why the Founding Fathers provided for separation of church and state, because this is where religion and politics evolve into if so allowed.

    December 8, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Expat American

    I'd be interested to hear Rick Perry's take regarding the Easter Bunny.

    December 8, 2011 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  4. Primewonk

    Consevativeamerican wrote, " I live in Tennessee and they have banned prayer in school even voluntary prayer."

    Can you provide the citation information for this law in Tennessee? I searched your state laws and could not find it.

    December 8, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. Rick 7809

    Didn't the US Supreme Court deal with the religion issue in public schools many years before Obama took office?

    December 8, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. Bigjilm

    You must define "War" differently than the rest of us Perr-zarro.

    Why in thee heck would the current government give money to an organizaiton that is 1. in the tank for ultra conservatives and 2. protects child-molesters? IMO they should step it up a notch and tax these businesses (let's face it, that's exaclty what most mega churches really are) especially when they're political tools.

    And lying for Christ? We'll see you in the great inferno then. Obama is more Christian than I'm comfortable with, but hey, at least he's one of the reasonable ones who respects others' religions and keeps his faith where it belongs, on a personal level between himself and his deity.

    Why don't you say what you really mean? You want to enforce your interpretation of your god and force everyone to worship 'it' the way you see fit. You theocrats will never be moderate enough to win a general election.

    December 8, 2011 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Debbie

    It would appear that Perry is trying to find a group to appeal to-the ones that erroneously think there is a "war" on Christmas. Newsflash–there isn't. But Perry needs to find his niche, no matter how small or misinformed (can you say "Fox News"?) He's toast. He's also a horrible governor (I live in Texas) with no regard for the really important things his state needs.

    December 8, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  8. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Perry is a desperate candidate trying to raise a non-issue. Almost all of the "war on religion" issues Perry is blaming the president for, occurred way before Obama was elected, and some occurred during the time Perry's party held the presidency. It's time for this G.W. Bush clone to run and hide his pathetic inability to govern.

    December 8, 2011 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Tim

    It just amazes some on here don't get it. This nation is supposed to be a non-Christian nation. It is supposed to be a FREE nation. A nation to practice whatever religion or not to practice religion if you want. So many have seemed to forget, your rights as a citizen end where another's begin. Just because you might be a Christian doesn't mean your neighbor has to be a Christian. I am thankful we have people that are trying to keep a separation of church and state. Does the nation of Iran mean anything to you? I guess some of you slept in history class concerning the Salem Witch trials? You have to be careful because when religion becomes government, who is safe?

    December 8, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  10. Annie, Atlanta

    HE's not doing himself any favors by becoming desperate.

    December 8, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  11. Mark

    Mr Perry, your no different from the Taliban. There is a seperation of church and state in this country, and it's for a good reason. Your, sir are as dumb as dumb can be. Your rambling and bumbling attempt at trying to make a statement on any issue is a failure on your part that of which you'll never understand. You may be what Texans want in office, but you sir don't have the common sense or knowledge to run a popcycle stand in the Texas heat. Face the fact that you are a Texas sized buffoon and do not have the depth to grasp the meaning and understanding of ANY issue. Now get on your horse and ride back down the where you belong. In the sticks of Texas!

    December 8, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    This is what DSM-IV calls "separation fo church and brain."

    December 8, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  13. Annie, Atlanta

    @DLWyer – I thought reporting consisted of Person A saying something about what Person B did, and then showing what Person B actually did. Just because it doesn't come out the way you want it to doesn't mean it isn't reporting.

    December 8, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Didn't the US Supreme Court deal with the religion issue in public schools many years before Obama took office?"

    Yes, but you see, it didn't decide the issue the way the GOP wanted, so the entire country has to suffer.

    December 8, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  15. Laverne

    This dufus man is trying to create a controversity that is not even a factor right now. He is trying to thrown everything out and see what sticks and he is just a disgusting, sickening individual. He will never be POTUS and it would be a total embarrassment if America fell asleep at the wheel and allowed this man to get the nomination.

    December 8, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "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 respectfully disagree. I think we'd finally see an angry Jesus.

    December 8, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    DLWyer, the most important part of this article for me isn't the rehash of Perry's ad, which I have now have seen so many times I practically have it memorized, it's the news that Perry didn't mention Christmas in HIS Holiday message last year. But if it upsets you to hear the entire story, no problem: there's a news organization totally devoted to vilifying the President and boosting far-right politicians. Just change the channel.

    December 8, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Republican who supports President Obama

    Perry is a joke. GOP is looking to tear down Obama on every front and trying to fabricate as crap along the way as possible. I do not believe Perry or Clifford or even Newt – lies and obstruction will only go so far.

    December 8, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. Occupied

    Rick Perry wants to put gay soldiers back in the closet and use tax-payers' money to advance his religion in schools.

    December 8, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Pam from Iowa

    What a maroon!
    Obama had nothing to do with removing prayer from schools, nor is he waging a 'war on religiion'.
    Typical GOP lies!!

    December 8, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. David

    Two weeks ago, our son's GA Pre-K class had Santa in for photos. This week we did the vote for which class has the best X-Mas decorations. Next week is the Christmas Pagent. Where is this "can't celebrate Christmas in schools?" It is the dominant topic in the run up to Christmas here.

    December 8, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. Mike

    Just like a christian to use his religion to bash others.

    December 8, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Keith

    Why is Perry engaged in a war on Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice? Nobody even knows when Jesus was born, and religious scholars pretty assume it wasn't on December 25th. Christmas is an ancient Christian assault on the Winter Solstice celebrations. Many of the "Christmas" tradition practiced have absolutely NOTHING to do with the Biblical story. They were co-opted from the Winter Solstice celebrations.

    I'm getting fed up with Fox's propaganda attack on Hanukkah by refusing to include it within a cheerful holiday greeting.

    December 8, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  24. Mark

    His just like another fellow Texan who actually held the White House, Bush< who wasn't very bright either. Look how that turned out. Rick, it's about the economy stupid!!

    December 8, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  25. Rick Perry needs to read the Constitution

    It's funny that his main complain is that Catholic charities aren't getting federal handouts. I thought Republicans opposed handouts,

    December 8, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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