Who is Rick Perry?:
Within the Republican party, there are a number of different religious viewpoints impacting the 2012 race for presidential candidacy. Although all of the frontrunners claim Christianity, each brings with them their personal experience and the background of their individual church and dogma. Texas governor Rick Perry is a popular Republican candidate, and it’s entirely possible he could nab the GOP’s nomination for the 2012 race against incumbent president Barack Obama. Let’s take a look at who Rick Perry is and how his faith has influenced him and impacted his policy-making decisions.
Public Statements on Faith and Religion:
Rick Perry is almost a stereotype of the hardline Republican conservative. His stance on a number of issues – abortion, same-sex marriages, and so on – is directly influenced by his fundamentalist brand of Christianity. Perry, a Methodist, attends the Tarrytown United Methodist Church, but has always been fairly vocal about his religious beliefs, and has led religious services at a number of private and public functions.
Perry has stated publicly that he believes the Bible to be infallible, and that those who have no accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior will be on a fast track to Hell. He has also made it clear that he doesn’t think too highly of the establishment clause, and in his book On My Honor says, “I … don't think we should allow a small minority of atheists to sanitize our civil dialogue on religious references." He is also an avid supporter of Intelligent Design, and believes it should be taught in Texas’ school curriculum side by side with evolution theory.
Day of Prayer and Fasting:
Rick Perry has strong ties to evangelical groups, and in summer of 2011, spoke at a prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization which promotes a number of public policy goals, such as the illegalization of abortion and same-sex marriage. Perry was criticized for inviting other governors to join him at the event, in part because he had declared a Day of Prayer and Fasting.
In his address to attendees – over twenty thousand of them – Perry asked God to help America, saying, "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. As a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that, we cry out for your forgiveness."
The Evangelical Right and New Apostolic Reformation:
In addition to the American Family Association, Rick Perry has some pretty strong ties to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a movement which is growing rapidly in America. This group, which is a well-organized, well-funded, and powerful movement, organized the DC40 Prayer Initiative in 2011.
In August 2011, Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, been a vocal Perry supporter, referred to the Mormon church as a “cult,” and said "we have the duty to select Christians as our leaders ... Between a Rick Perry and a Mitt Romney, I believe evangelicals need to go with Rick Perry."
The following month, Perry appeared at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by evangelical pastor Jerry Falwell, to discuss how he turned to God for salvation.
Can Rick Perry Win?
Rick Perry is extremely popular with evangelical voters and the conservative right. However, some of his ultra-fundamentalist statements have alienated more moderate Republicans, and those who favor a separation between church and state. Political analyst Meghan McCain referred to the Texas governor as “George Bush 2.0,” and said the surest way to get Barack Obama re-elected is to put Rick Perry into the presidential race.
For more information on the religious views of key political figures, be sure to read: