A group of Texas atheists may be suing to stop Gov. Rick Perry's involvement in "The Response," an upcoming day of prayer and fasting, but their efforts have done little to shake the Republican politician's faith and determination. Perry is sticking by his original plans to be involved in the massive Christian event on August 6 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. On Thursday, he appeared on "Today's Issues," a program on the American Family Radio Network, to reiterate the gathering's spiritual importance.
According to CBN News' The Brody Report, Perry told hosts Tony Perkins and Tim Wildmon that the prayer event will be about asking God to forgive all of us “for the sins that we have committed." When asked what he wants the event to accomplish, he says he wants "God's will to be done."
Perry's statements don't just apply to the general public; he believes they apply to him as well, explaining that he wants, “God helping me, guiding me, giving me direction.” Below, listen to the complete interview:
Reaction to Perry's involvement in the event has been diverse. On the Houston Press' web site, one commenter wrote:
...the state is sanctioning something entirely defenseless: talking to imaginary beings, hoping that they might hear your thoughts and then take action to help you. It's primitive, and has no place in a modern world.
What if he were to declare "Texas' Imaginary Friend Day", and play up the idea that we all have an imaginary friend and that it's ok to talk about him and talk to him.
While skeptics will surely find offense in the event, evangelicals will likely welcome it. Below, find Perry's official endorsement of "The Response":
Perry is an unabashed conservative who very clearly has no problem being public about his faith. His endorsement of a Christian prayer event, in itself, is certainly newsworthy (especially considering the response). But, bigger questions surround the governor's possible intention to throw his hat into the 2012 presidential race. Politico sheds further light on his potential candidacy and his related comments about the role of faith in his political career:
We noted a Houston Chronicle report yesterday that Rick Perry told business leaders in May that he believed that he’d been placed in the governor’s office “in this place at this time to do [God’s] will.”
...Just a few days ago, Perry suggested on the Salem Radio Network’s “Janet Mefferd Show” that the grassroots interest in him as a presidential candidate might be a sign of something bigger.
“It’s been an incredible outpouring,” Perry said. “And I can tell you that has given me the calmness in my soul that, you know, God sends messages through a lot of ways and through a lot of messengers.”
While Perry seems to believe his decision should be based on God's direction, there are also practical concerns that govern any campaign in its infancy (i.e. does he have enough support to wage a viable run for the presidency). National Journal has more:
Speculation about Perry has been fueled by reports that the governor and [Dave] Carney, [Perry’s political strategist], have called an array of GOP officials across the country, including in the pivotal early states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Carney acknowledged the calls began in earnest after the Independence Day holiday, but he said they are a genuine attempt to gauge Perry’s level of support should he decide to run—not a thinly veiled attempt to put together a campaign...
...As a governor of the country’s second-largest state with an enviable job-creation record, he would immediately become one of the field’s strongest candidates.
Whether Perry will launch a bid for the presidency is still up in the air. If he does decided to jump into the race, though, his willingness to speak so openly about the need for faith in public life will surely make him an appealing candidate to many on the right.