From Secession to Oppression

From my SA:

Anita Perry, wife of Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has taken a bold leap into the national spotlight in recent weeks, assuming a more prominent role in her husband’s campaign and speaking about her Christian faith in a way that resonates with evangelicals, but surprises old friends.


Her public statements this month that she pushed her husband into the presidential ring because she felt he was being called by God caught Bill Miller off guard.“I always viewed Anita as someone who took politics with a gigantic grain of salt. She would rather go to a baseball game for her kid than an inaugural,” said Miller, an Austin lobbyist who hired Anita Perry in the 1990s.

Perhaps a spiritual calling trumped any reservations she may have had about the political game.

In recent years, the Perrys started attending an evangelical megachurch in West Austin. In teary-eyed speech made in South Carolina this month, Anita Perry cast the race in biblical terms, using language common to evangelicals, but off-putting to some secular Americans and those of other faiths.

“God was already speaking to me but (Rick) didn’t want to hear it,” she said.

“He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said, ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush but there are people seeing that burning bush for you,’” she said, referencing the biblical story in which God appears to Moses in a burning bush and directs him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

She also pointed to faith as the reason for attacks by Republican challengers.

“We are being brutalized by our opponents in our own party, so much of that is I think they look at him because of his faith,” she said of her husband.

That remark was mocked by comedian Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show.”

“Yes, no one gets it worse from the base of the Republican Party than evangelical Christians. Or as they are also known, the base of the Republican Party,” Stewart quipped Tuesday.


Her remarks, some believe, were calculated to win over evangelical Christian voters, but longtime friends say the speech came from the heart.


Even if it her words were authentic, they certainly didn’t hurt her husband’s credibility with evangelical voters, who wield significant power in the Republican primary, said D. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., and an expert on faith and politics.

“No Republican has captured the presidency in modern history without the evangelical vote,” Lindsay said.


In Austin, [the Perrys] have been members of the Tarrytown United Methodist Church since the 1990s, but friends say Anita never has been one to proselytize.

“She has always been a quiet Christian, never imposing her faith on others,” said Mica Mosbacher, a Houston philanthropist who has helped raise money for Perry’s presidential campaign.

Likewise, her husband hasn’t been seen as an evangelical for most of his governorship, Lindsay said. Rick Perry always has opposed abortion and gay marriage, but religion did not seem to figure prominently in his policy decisions in Texas, he said.

The Perrys were not big contributors to the collection plate. A San Antonio Express-News analysis of the couple’s income tax returns from 2000 to 2009 showed they gave half a percent of their earnings to churches and religious organizations.

But their 2010 tax return shows they gave $10,000 to Lake Hills, more than three times their previous donation.

At some point, however, the Perrys became more vocal about their religious convictions, said Dave Welch, executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council, an organization that seeks to influence the “God-ordained institution of civil government.”


A week before he announced his run for president, Rick Perry called an unprecedented day of prayer and fasting that drew 30,000 worshippers to Reliant Stadium in Houston, an event that Welch helped promote. Called “The Response,” the rally stuck to prayer, but that didn’t convince skeptics it was not politically motivated.

“It turned out to be a springboard,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. “It is hard to say with a straight face that there was no connection between the two.”


In 2008, the Perrys began attending Lake Hills Church, an evangelical megachurch led by pastor Mac Richard.


On a recent Sunday, Richard delivered a lively sermon through a headset microphone, reading scripture from an iPad. When God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, Richard said, he tested them with hunger and other obstacles. Each time, God came through, parting the Red Sea and raining bread from heaven.


Anita Perry hit that theme in her South Carolina speech, saying that a man approached her husband and told him, “God is testing you because he wants you to know when you are in the White House how you got there.”

God isn’t the only one testing Rick Perry.

After the governor announced his candidacy in August, top evangelical leaders invited him to a private retreat, apparently to vet his personal faith and positions on key moral issues, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Lynn called the primary the most “religion-saturated” in modern history, with three candidates — Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum — declaring that God has called them to run.

In Perry’s case, it was his wife who heard the call first, concluding that her husband was being tapped to save the soul of a country “on the abyss of failure and destruction.”

Lynn finds that rhetoric disturbing.

“The idea that we should be campaigning for public office claiming that God has a special interest is really a dangerous proposition,” he said. “When you make decisions as a political leader, they have to be on the commonly shared values of the Constitution. You cannot govern on the basis of the Bible.”

To evangelicals, however, her words sound right on target.


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46 responses to “From Secession to Oppression

  1. I am anxiously awaiting an autographed version of that poster. Following a president who talked to God worked so well 2000-2008. God save me from your followers.

  2. elizabeth3hersh

    When I hear “burning bush” I immediately think someone’s pubic area is on fire. Also from Sodomia Pictures is this clip of Gaddafi being sodomized by militant rebels:

    Gotta run…it’s God calling me back to the Neiman Marcus web site (yes, again!).

    • my mind would usually go to some type of raging infection if confronted with the phrase ‘burning bush.’ in this case, though, i thought of chimpy. i almost titled the post ‘the burning bush on steroids,’ because i always associate little ricky with chimpy.

  3. jay

    Whenever I see Anita, I remember Rick Perry saying in the first CNN debate he would bring in the White House the most beautiful first lady ever………………………………………………….

  4. John Erickson

    Why does it seem that those who wear their religion most outwardly end up screwing over so many people?

  5. *Gag*

    Religion/Spirituality is so personal. These nuts and cynics cheapen it, whore it, cash in on it.


  6. “We are being brutalized by our opponents in our own party …”

    Hmmm. Kind of like how speakers metaphorically brutalized reproductive rights and non-Christians at your husband’s Response rally?

  7. jeb

    Anita, that voice in your head is not God. For a primer, watch the scene in Pulp Fiction with Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace talking to Bruce Willis’ character, Butch Coolidge in the bar. That’s who the voice is.

    • maybe it’s tinnitus. she should see a doctor. maybe during a break in the next debate, she can ask ron paul. well, if he’s not busy gluing his eyebrows back on.

  8. My pastor has often talked about this tendency to fuss about being persecuted … sometimes, Christians are being attacked for being Christians.

    More often, we get ourselves attacked by acting like jerks.

    The Perrys are the type of people who will use religiosity for their political purposes. Sadly, too many Christians will buy it because he says the right words.

    • when people try to pass themselves off as holier than everyone else, they had better be prepared to get knocked down a few pegs by everyone else. nobody is attacking their religion. they’re attacking their arrogance.

      • Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t walk around saying, “By the way, I’m the greatest preacher you’re ever going to hear! Show up or miss out, ’cause I rock!”

        The only thing remotely like all of this bragging that pols do is when Paul talks about all of his credentials, then says that they don’t count for anything.

        This attention whores disgust me, and they make Christians look bad, though much of that is self-inflicted, since Christians follow these buffoons.

        • and they follow self-aggrandizing televangelists who always make sure to build themselves some cozy mansions and buy themselves some private jets before they get around to stuff like feeding the poor.

  9. For me it’s simple … the more a candidate plays to the religious right, the greater the chance of not getting my vote.

  10. I think she likes the idea of being First Lady of the U.S. a lot better than being First Lady of Texas.

  11. Half a percent. Hmm. Tithe means 10% When they get to the Pearly Gates, they’ve got a lot of splainin’ to do.

    • notice how the wallet opened up more when he started thinking about running for president? it reminded me of mittsie saying he can’t hire an illegal, because he’s running for office. everything is for show, not out of conviction.

  12. He’s just saving the pretzel for the gas jets. Other govs too have had these burning bush problems. Fortunately, Governor Sanford knew the proper procedure in his Argentinian flame situation. In that sort of fire, you can only extingush it with a “class D” unit.

    • you’d think that the wife of a governor whose state has been on fire for much of the time might have picked a phrase other than ‘burning bush.’

  13. gregg

    I watched a bit of her insipid talk to her Christian brothers and sisters on the tube a week or so ago…I was surprised to say the least when one of them said of her; ” Have you not heard of that madwoman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market-place, and cried incessantly: “I am looking for Xanax! I am looking for Xanax!”*

    Someone needs to tell her the damn things are addictive.

    *apologies to Friedrich

  14. “The true spiritual people don’t have to advertise their spirituality. if you are truly righteous, people will know from your actions.” So true, so true! Nonnie: you read my mind this week with your blog. My story, which I wrote on Sunday, but am holding to publish on Thursday night, is my outrage as a Christian against all this crap that people are supposedly doing and saying in the name of Jesus. I can stay silent no more! Thanks for paving the way!

  15. Aw, the poor baby, “brutalized by attacks”…this must be why he sicced his Baptist pastor friend on Mitt for being a Mormon. Rickie knows all about what it’s like to be a victim of religious persecution, after all!

    • you can’t dish it out if you don’t know what it is! by the way, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if going after mittsie’s mormonism was anita’s idea.

      • You know, I think you’re probably right. She sounds like she’s got a fire under her rear end (or maybe a burning bush?) when it comes to the religiosity stuff.

        • did it ever drive you nuts that someone reminded you of someone, but you just couldn’t put your finger on whom? it wasn’t until i read you comment that i realize exactly whom anita reminds me of. are you ready to say oh, hell yeah!!!? piper laurie as the mother in carrie! the voice, the look, and the fanaticism.

          • Ha! As my friends would tell you, I’m usually the mixed-up, out of touch immigrant, so I *love* that I unintentionally prompted an American pop culture reference for you. But you know what….I watched Carrie years ago, and yes! She does remind me of the scary Mom. Now I’ll have to rewatch it, yipes!