Beliefs Faith 2016

5 faith facts about Rick Perry: ‘God has put me in this place at this time to do his will’

Former Texas governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PERRY-FAITH, originally transmitted on May 6, 2015.
Former Texas governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PERRY-FAITH, originally transmitted on May 6, 2015.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H., on April 17, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Brian Snyder *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PERRY-FAITH, originally transmitted on June 4, 2015.

UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry withdrew from the 2016 race on Sept. 11, 2015

(RNS) Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry threw his Stetson into the already very crowded race for the Republican presidential nomination on June 4, 2015. Here are five faith facts about the man.

1.  Perry grew up attending Baptist and Methodist churches.

Perry grew up in Paint Creek, a pinhole-size Texas town with two churches — a Southern Baptist and a Methodist church. Perry’s family was active in both in the 1950s and 1960s but maintained membership in the United Methodist Church, the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination.

2. But now he’s joined the nondenominational crowd.

When Perry and his wife, Anita, moved to Austin in the 1980s, they attended Tarrytown United Methodist Church — the same church George W. Bush and his family attended when Bush was the Texas governor. The Perrys served Communion there, taught confirmation classes and entered their children in confirmation classes. But in 2007, the Perrys moved to Lake Hills Church, an Austin megachurch with an evangelical message.

3. In the 2012 election, Perry was perhaps the most overtly Christian in his rhetoric.

“America is going to be guided by some set of values — the question is going to be whose values,” he said in a 2011 speech at Virginia’s Liberty University, founded by the late evangelical power broker Jerry Falwell. “I would suggest … it is those Christian values that this country was based upon.”

And more famously, Perry has said he feels he became Texas’ longest-serving governor and a two-time presidential candidate at the direction of God.

“I’d been called to the ministry,” he said in his 2012 stump speech. “I’ve just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.”

4. Perry organized a prayer rally over America’s “moral crisis.”

Called “The Response,” the 2011 rally drew 30,000 people to a National Football League stadium in downtown Houston and raised a whole lot of support for the governor from national evangelical leaders.

“The prayer event created a major political opportunity for Perry,” Dan Gilgoff wrote for CNN in 2011. “Intense media coverage allowed him to broadcast his Christian commitment to a national audience just one week before formally launching his presidential campaign.”

5. Perry was recently re-baptized.

In 2014, in a private ceremony involving just friends and family, Perry was baptized in the chilly waters of Little Rocky Creek near Independence, Texas. It was the same creek Sam Houston, the president of the Republic of Texas (go look it up), was baptized in in 1854. After Perry’s dunking, the Texas Tribune speculated it may have been some sort of personal preparation for the rigors of the 2016 election. Afterward, Perry visited the small historic church Houston attended with his wife, Margaret Lea, and played a hymn on the old foot-pumped pipe organ.

Bonus fact: Perry prays voters will forget his “Oops” moment.

It’s a hard one to forget. In a 2012 debate against other Republican hopefuls, Perry could not remember all three government agencies he planned to eliminate if elected. “I would do away with the education, the um, Commerce, and let’s see. I can’t think of the third one. I can’t. Sorry. Oops,” he said. His campaign was already faltering, but that was a full-face flop.


About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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  • Okay, will try again…..was erased the first time.

    Good man, decent governor, but not presidential. The modern presidency requires a superb and relatively gaffe-free person. Like Santorum, Perry has a tendency to speak sensible thoughts in a less-than-artful way. I don’t want to judge the man’s claim that the Almighty has called him, but at least from a human standpoint, I just don’t see him as the ideal candidate.

  • Is it just the atheists who are put off by the whole “god chose me to do his will” rhetoric, or does it bother at least some of the Christians? This is a sincere question…I would think many people of all faiths (and non-faiths) would be very uncomfortable with their president making such arrogant claims–it can’t speak well of his ability to think critically. It actually sounds dangerous–those who aren’t familiar with “god’s will” would have to rely on this guy’s interpretation if he were ever actually elected. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem very likely.

  • Not presidential is putting it mildly.

    Last time Little ricky ran, he also claimed that god had told him to run. Apparently, god just failed to tell him that he would win.

    god will have his little joke.

  • Doug, I’m sometimes put off by such talk and sometimes not….it depends on the person and situation.

    And the reason is that it can be either arrogance or humility — again, depending on context.

  • I disagree that he was ever a good man or a decent governor. He was a corrupt governor, prone to abusing his power and turning Texas into a laughingstock.

    The man supported measures done to enrich his political supporters at taxpayer expense.

    “The Response” was a perfect example of his disregard for propriety and decency. He was using taxpayer resources to support official state sanctioned sectarian religious belief. This is a direct attack at notions of religious freedom of our nation. Even Christian clergy of the state found it to be offensive\

    Just as a topper, he knowingly let an innocent man get executed

    As a Democrat, let me say, Run Rick Run!

  • The problem is that lots of pretty good presidents of the past deployed God-talk. So it has to depend on the person and the situation. If I were running, I wouldn’t do it, because I would prefer language that reflects a common moral understanding, not just one that is shared by Christians alone.

  • “Good man, decent governor?” You do know he was indicted last August, and that indictment hasn’t gone away.

    And what else? Well, there was his scheme to have every adolescent girl vaccinated for hpv — might have been a good idea though the religious right hated it, but do you think the fact that his chief of staff Mike Toomey was a lobbyist for Merck (which makes Gardisal) might have had anything to do with it? The profits would have been astronomical.

    There’s his environmental record (abysmal) his opposition to an equal pay act –and then his highway idea which would have been a humongous land grab.

    And what do you make of the fact that probably everybody running for President thinks God approves?

  • It very much bothers many of us Christians. Its dangerous, its presumptuous, and we doubt its sincere. After all, any sincerely religious candidate must think God isn’t opposed to their running, right? Is Perry calling them liars, or does he think God just likes a huge field of candidates?

    I believe Perry is trying to appeal to a tiny percentage of people for whom that is effective speech, and he’s hoping the rest of us will roll our eyes and ignore it.

  • The web site wiped out my attempted post, so I’ll try again…..Even some Texas Democrats are pretty embarrassed by the joke of an indictment that will drag on like a toothache but ultimately lead nowhere. It’s banana-republic tactics, where political foes try to find ways to put each other in jail if they can’t win on election day.

    The rest of your post tells me more about your political views than it does about whether Perry was a good or a bad governor.

  • Tracy, that’s silly. It’s possible that a person can be wrong about something without being a liar. You could have a full field of candidates, all of whom sincerely believe that God wants them to be president. Obviously, no more than one of them can be correct, at least for that election cycle, but that hardly makes the rest of them liars if they truly believe what they’re saying.

    Mistaken, yes, but lying? Not necessarily.

  • Perry manifests many of the dangers of religion:

    “God told me to run”
    – Rick Perry

    Dear Rick,
    Didn’t God tell you to run last time, too? When you lost?
    So your God is playing with you in the same way a little kid plays with a turtle – he picks you up and puts you back at the starting line.
    And you worship this childish halfwit?

    If God wants you to be president, why doesn’t he arrange it?
    Doesn’t God know that throwing this whole thing to a vote might be dicey – as it was last time?

    And if you fail at making it the presidency are you ready to admit you were wrong? Either you were wrong about God’s plan, wrong about God’s timing, wrong about God’s instructions or wrong about God’s very existence.

    And if God wants you to be president, are you ready to do his will?
    “Execute Homosexuals” – God (Lev. 20:13)
    “Execute my enemies in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    I hope your God is just lying to you again.

  • Well no, Perry using his veto power to defund a department in order to effect a change of leadership was a joke. It just got worse from there.

    Its not even the worst part of his governorship. Using public resources as a piggy bank for his buddies ranks far higher on the list of faults. Using public resources to fund a demonstration of sectarian discrimination also factors high among his faults.

  • Mistaken? Possibly.

    Megalomaniacal? Far more likely.

    Willing to use god to further their political ambitions? Perish the thought!

    I would assume, jack, that if god is telling anybody anything, that voice would be unmistakable. And in little ricky’s case, he claimed this the last time he ran for president. It wasn’t true then, was it, unless you postulate only that god told him to run, but didn’t promise him a win.

    And I sincerely doubt it’s true now. But it is convenient.

  • @Tracy,

    “..Perry is trying to appeal to a tiny percentage..for whom that is effective speech..he’s hoping the rest of us will roll our eyes and ignore it.”

    The crisis in America right now is the growth of Evangelical Politics.
    Since it can’t be outlawed it must be argued against, browbeaten and laughed off the stage.

    Rick Perry is a man proud of his ignorance, and proud of the source of his ignorance: Evangelical Creationist Christianity.

    Another man with such high godly self-righteousness and self esteem was George Bush – The most ignorant presidential debacle this country ever produced.

    These knuckleheads think Christian philosophy is an exercise in humility.
    But no, Christianity soaks believers in a warm bath of self-righteousness and delusions of grandeur – with God on your side, any humility or criticism is an insult to your god’s power.

    “With God all things are possible”
    Wrong! God obstructs. Blasphemy is where you find progress.

  • A “private” baptism ceremony — that his campaign just happened to circulate among the media in hopes that every evangelical (ie the GOP base) voter will find out. “Preparation for the rigors of the campaign” indeed.

  • Long ago, God made his choice as to who was going to rule over all meek mankind on earth…. his son, Christ Jesus, who is King of God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44; Isaiah 11:1-9).

    The time left for man to rule over man, to his detriment, is short (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, signs of living in the last days of a wicked era), since God’s kingdom will soon replace all of man’s governments and rule with perfect love, righteousness and justice.

  • Perry is gong after the Christian vote. Christians having been daily attacked and offended for their beliefs by the current administration. Perry will probably strike a chord with many voters. The current environment appears to be going from bad to worse morally and spiritually. This will probably continue unless God decides to intervene. It would seem that we are in the last days, but God only knows. What matters more than who is in office is whether or not we are prepared for the next life. Our eternal welfare is what is infinitely more important. We need to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord if we have not done so. To turn away from sin and follow Him. There is great peace for those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God Bless

  • Mbomba chose me to do His work at this moment in time. Vote for me for President. Your Creator has deemed it.

  • You don’t respond to a governor who uses his veto power in that manner by indicting him. Criminalizing one’s political foes is the way banana republics behave. Apparently, Texas Democrats have imported south-of-the-border political tactics.

    Maybe Larry’s their political advisor….that would explain it.

  • All that’s happening, Ben, is that in some places in the country, political rhetoric has returned over the past couple of decades to its messy norm….with everybody and their uncle or aunt saying that God is with them and all the rest. There is nothing particularly new or alarming about it. It’s much like in Old Testament times, where everybody claimed to a prophet so they could get a hearing from the people, but most of them obviously were atrociously wrong.

    It’s not pretty, but it’s a part of the American political landscape, at least in some regions of the country.

  • Atheist Max, it sounds like you have a gargantuan chip on your shoulder against this supposedly imaginary god you struggle against.

    It also sounds like you’re in the throes of the mother of all mid-life crises.

  • “Since it can’t be outlawed it must be argued against, browbeaten, and laughed off the stage.” (Atheist Max)

    This statement tells us more about Max than about “it.”

  • I agree it was a politicized joke between a governor with no sense of propriety and an opposition party getting fed up with him. Nobody has clean hands in that one.

    Again, it wasn’t even the worst abuse of power in Rick’s governorship. There are so many better examples of indictable offenses by Perry that slipped by. There are far worse things to pillory Perry on other than that indictment.

  • The Great Cthulhu demands that I run for president. The blood of many sacrificial victims will flow in the ensuing months, assuring my eventual election to Chief Executive.

    Vote for me and await the mighty judgment of he who sleeps beneath the sea in his glorious city R’lyeh

    Ph’nglui Mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

  • Ajax kleenex cheerios? Oh, oh, Durex!!! Fanta tang pepsi coca cola alleve!!

    Sony Samsung Nintendo!!! Sony Samsung Hyundai!!!

  • Rick Santorum said that his participation in the Presidential election was absolutely by God’s design. It was never Senator Santorum’s intention to run. He said that his presence in that arena was to stimulate the conversation and to address certain issues that were important to him. God’s reasoning is His and often we are simply asked to obey His direction without understanding why we are there. Only the Lord knows why Rick Perry has been called to be a candidate in 2016. And truly that is between Rick Perry and his God – and none of our business.

  • We need someone with leadership experience …Rick Perry is that someone .Doesn’t anyone care about our National Debt?Doesn’t anyone care about how many people are out of work? He has the experience he was the Governor of Texas for 14 years,and the 12th largest economy in the world that had a balance budget under his command for 14 years..He is the strongest candidate on border security ,after all The Governor sent the National Guard to help enforce our laws,and the people of Texas was more that happy to pay for it. He’s a Patriot,ex-military, Believes strongly on the Constitution of the United States of America. He Loves to shoot and ride motorcycles,he’s is as America as apple pie.Please join the Rick Perry supporters so we can start getting our Country Back..