Perry mixes political script with Scripture
August 6th, 2011
05:41 PM ET
11 years ago

Perry mixes political script with Scripture

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.

Filed under: 2012 • Rick Perry
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. RJWTimes Bradford England

    So he is telling us how to live, which religion to have. Mixing politics with religion, as they say, is bad.

    August 6, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. arale norimaki

    If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else

    August 6, 2011 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. MAC

    For you "Liberal Elite" who yell seperation of Church and State are hypocrites taking a word from Religion and using it as a word created by the State, Marriage! I would rather the state call my marriage a civil union. In this economy we need everyones help, even the help of GOD!

    August 6, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. chris24

    what a phony! he actually said, "this is not about me"

    he speaks in front of 25000 people, 2 weeks before he announces his candidacy
    and acts like it is a coincidence. back where i come from, we'd call that a "LIAR"
    but, God asked him to run, so ...

    what a jerkoff.

    August 6, 2011 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  5. Peggy Scarborough

    I think the Response prayer rally in Houston was the greatest event we have ever seen in America in our day. This day shows that America is a Christian nation and God is up to something great for His people in spite of our economic crisis.

    August 6, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  6. w l jones

    We do not need the middle of a subject running our government and present same problem :WE THE PEOPLE OF AMERICAN" can do better than this. Bless

    August 6, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    A stage full of greedy, money grubbing hypocrits, all of them. People are dying and suffering all around the World, there is famine in Somalia, 29,000 plus children have died and more are to be expected. To understand repentence is to understand America isn't the only place of hardship and suffering.

    August 6, 2011 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    What a Heathen Ba...ard.

    August 6, 2011 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. John

    Fundamantelist Christians really identify with Rick Perry, because he is dumb.

    August 6, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. bhigh

    No, no, a thousand times NO to Rick Perry. We should be very, very afraid of politicians who give speeches sprinkled liberally with bible quotes. This does not speak to the majority of Americans and it makes us look delusional to the rest of the world.

    August 6, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Heathen - one of many definitions is "irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized". Guess that fits pretty good for the redneck hillbilly (likes those young girls too - ask his wife).

    August 6, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. once upon a horse

    so I am guessing that the same people who tried to tie President Obama with Rev Wright will also tie Gov Perry with Pastor Hagee, right? I'm sure the likes of Sarah Palin will BLAST Gov Perry for hanging and palling around with an anti-Semetic that also dislikes the Catholic Church. Even her mentor John McCain had enough sense to ditch this clown. Or is it bird of a feather only flock together if they are Democrats or progressives? The sound of crickets you are hearing right now about this is coming from the fair and balanced news center on the right.

    August 6, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  13. blue jay in cali

    hmm didn't see the prayers for the poor or the sick, oh right this was a tea party event, my bad.

    August 6, 2011 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Heywood

    Separation of Church and State, governor perry. you were not elected for your religious beliefs. worship as you wish, not on the stage of government. you will not be President.

    August 6, 2011 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. LouAz

    This should be in CNN's Belief Blog. It is 100% religion and has nothing to do with politics.

    August 6, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. LouAz

    How will Perry or any of the others know if their god has answered their prayers ? If he gets elected ? If he doesn't, does that mean there is no god(s) ? Inquiring minds want to know.

    August 6, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    On day when 31 of our brave men died it was nice of the secessionist and his group of bigots not to oray for them.
    I wouldn't get too giddy about 30000 attendees of a "national" group gathering of right wing nutsos who can get it into the heads about separation of church and state. Our Baltimore Ravens had a"local" practice open for their fans and there were 24000 in attendance. Why are there still rethug gays? Those barbarianss per one of their own big boymarcus!!!
    To postel, your only christian gathering god is really not the help to anything,nor for that matter anything. Learn to think for yourself you fool!

    August 6, 2011 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  18. Ralphe

    The Texas Talibaner.

    August 6, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  19. TXJim

    Our "Response" in Texas if Rick Perry decides to run and resigns as governor


    The country's "Response" if he gets the nomination ...

    Hell NO!!!

    He is a pandering d-bag who is wrapping his political rally pandering to the GOP base of disillusioned Christians in the word of God...

    The Bible says God will punish those who use his name for personal gain.. I wouldn't stand to close to Governor Goodhair in a thunderstorm....

    August 6, 2011 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  20. GL

    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.

    That why church needs to stay out of polic.

    August 6, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  21. Mark in CA

    John McCain had to renounce John Hagee's endorsement in 2008 because of his ultra extreme viewpoint and statements (such as that scripture says God sent Hitler as a "hunter" of Jews so that they would return to the Holy Land). Hagee also says Catholocism is a Godless theology (and worse). And yet Rick Perry invites nutcases to his event. Another is Mike Bickle who said Oprah is a harbinger of the Anti-Christ. Rick Perry does not believe in the separation of church and state – and thus he cannot honestly swear to uphold and protect our Constitution. Therefore, Rick Perry should not be elected to any public office – not even dog catcher – let alone POTUS.

    August 6, 2011 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  22. Kateslate

    This is scary. It is a scary thing when an actual governor participates in a public nonsecular event, which alienates the consitutuents who are not of his religion. He was elected to govern all the people of his state, not just the Christians. I hope he does not win re-election, but if he does, I know I will never visit Texas again.

    August 6, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  23. Brownie2

    I believe in the power of prayer, but for some reason I don't trust this man's motives.

    August 6, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  24. abby

    Gov Good Hairy Perry would do anything for votes and thus is pandering to extremists.

    However, he's also a theocrat who along with his fellow righteous right wingers would restrict women's reproductive rights, would teach creationism (while laying off teachers), would return America to the politics of the white-sheeted "good ole boys" where only the rich whites have any say and everyone else is just a peon....

    As a Christian, I prefer Christ to these Pharisee politicians who spout Scripture but do not follow what Jesus taught.

    August 6, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. Republican Hater 1

    slick rick is up to his old tricks, pandering to tea party and religious right types thinking it will propel him into the white house,
    sorry Mr. worst governor ever in the state of Texas it ant working...................

    August 6, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
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