11/21/2011 08:58 am ET Updated Jan 21, 2012

Jesus on the Jumbotron - Excerpted From Adios Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush

On August 6, 2011, he was billed as just Rick Perry from Austin, Texas. He didn't want it to look too obvious that he was using his office, the state's image and authority to promote his particular brand of religion. It was kind of hard to hide, though. The 32,000 people in Houston's Reliant Stadium knew they were hearing from the governor of Texas. His title may have been absent from the three giant TV monitors hanging behind him on the stage but Perry was the second most important person in the room, (the other one, Jesus, was invisible; well, to most people). Playing as the opening act for the messiah was okay with the governor. The lord was just a bonus on this day for Rick Perry. Jesus wasn't on the Jumbotron; the man from Paint Creek was and while Jesus discreetly gathered up souls Perry was secretly looking at the sea of faces and envisioning legions of voters to take him to the promised land.

The Response: A Day of Prayer for a Nation in Crisis was a chance for Rick Perry to strut his Christian stuff and it became the opening gambit in a primary campaign that was designed to rely on what was described by analysts as "dog whistle politics." Although not yet formally a candidate at the time, the governor was doing more than being an evangelical exhibitionist. He was sending simple messages to GOP primary voters that he was not a Mormon. He might as well have hung a banner from the stadium ceiling that said, "Rick Perry: 2012 - Not a Mormon." The early frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president, Mitt Romney, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religious faith that many, many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians view as a cult. Rick Perry was setting up the Republican Primary as his Neon Jesus versus Mitt the Mormon. "How," he seemed to be asking, "can we take seriously as a candidate a man whose religious beliefs require him to wear long underwear year around?" (Look it up, people. Not time to explain here).

"He's a good man, I think, Romney is," one prayer rally worshipper said. "But I just can't vote for a Mormon. They got a story I can't believe. The Bible tells us all there is to know about Jesus. Anyway, don't use my name in your story."

In a few dozen interviews, Perry's people sounded ready to follow him through whatever economic or cultural desert he could find, (or create after he was elected). As Christian bands jumped for Jesus, the devout raised their arms in the air like prayer antennae better tuning in to their god. A youth pastor with spiked hair, who had traveled hundreds of miles in a van with his group of teens, stood with his head tilted skyward. The hands of about a dozen young people were placed on his body as if he were an amplifier to more efficiently send their pleadings heavenward. A few worshippers lay on the floor flopping their arms and legs while others closed their eyes and danced in delirium to a beat unheard by non-believers. Parents, meanwhile, sent their toddlers to be watched over at Reliant Stadium's Jose Cuervo Family Area, where they were not, one hopes, taught to count, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!" For what was believed to be the first time in the big football venue's history, beer was not for sale. When that news came unto reporters, they were "sore afraid."

Rick Perry had arrived on this big stage in a football stadium for reasons other than his faith. He had built a political career with relentless campaigning, hard right conservatism, and a government power structure that was filled with thousands of appointees who were unfalteringly loyal to his career and conservative political agenda. Texas history had been made when the governor was reelected three times after he had succeeded George W. Bush. Perry ran the state on a protocol that demanded reductions of already austere budgets and the privatization of any government service where there was money to be made by a corporation or one of his lobbyist friends. Although he had denied every inquiry about whether he intended to run for president, Perry was convinced that what he had done in Texas, or had done to Texas, had built a platform for a national campaign. He had gone from a state representative from a small rural community to Texas agriculture commissioner and then Lieutenant Governor before he took over as governor for the departing president-elect Bush. Perry had never lost an election and had become the longest-serving governor in Texas history.

The Texas governor did not think his political achievements were pure luck. Everything to Rick Perry is providential and he was standing before the fervent crowd of Christians in Houston because he was being moved by the spirit, and, according to his wife Anita, summoned by god to run for president of the United States. Perry's faith raises interesting questions about him as a politician and a man. As he was introducing himself to America as a potential president, he used his Christianity to define his character. But few of his friends or associates recall religion being integral to his personality as he moved up the political ladder in Texas government. Most descriptions of Perry have always included "regular guy" and "likes to have fun," which might be code for partying behavior when he was younger but can't be mistaken for outwardly devout. Nonetheless, here he was, stepping into the glare of TV lights to introduce himself as an unwavering Christian, committed to converting all non-believers, before he launched a more formal effort to win the GOP nomination for president.

Organizers insisted that Perry was participating in a strictly religious event, but The Response was about as apolitical as a candidate who drops out to spend more time with his family. It was an agreed-upon fiction. Before Perry came to the stage, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, compared the U.S.' situation under President Obama to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany, but he said this in a very loving and forgiving Christian way. Dobson, whose radio show potentially reaches hundreds of millions around the globe, has been using his organization since 1977 to affect conservative political change. He is paranoid about the future of heterosexual marriage and is convinced the messages about diversity are really "designed to promote the homosexual agenda." This was red-letter Republican dogma. By playing the three-note chord of gays, Nazis and Obama, Dobson sneered at claims The Response had nothing to do with politics.

The presumed election of President Obama in October of 2008 had prompted the least reverend to write "A Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," which was clearly designed to frighten Christians into rising up against liberal oppression. Dobson's dark warning to the future predicted an Obama administration would pay mandatory bonuses to gay soldiers and order a gay curriculum in every American school. Boy Scouts and guns were going to be banned; prime time and daytime television were to be rife with explicit pornography (which would free up more disposable income for a lot of families paying for porn subscriptions), Tel Aviv was to be destroyed by a nuclear bomb, Christian school groups and adoption agencies would be illegal, and health care would disappear for all Americans. Full frontal irony, then, that trying to provide health care has been Obama's biggest political curse. Clearly, this preacher needs Prozac. James Dobson was making the Mayans' prediction of 2012 being the end of time look like an optimistic vision.

And this was just the opening act.

The governor, though, kept trying to sell his apolitical nonsense, if not to the right wing conservative crowd, then to the 300 journalists and the TV cameras sending his image onto satellites for broadcast. As convinced as he is that god thinks like a Republican, Perry suggested his deity doesn't vote in Republican primaries.

"He is a wise, wise god," the governor said. "He is wise enough not to be associated with any political party, or for that matter, he's wise enough not to be affiliated with any man-made institution."

He's also apparently wise enough to avoid Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and Buddhists. The sponsors of The Response said that all faiths were welcome to the god gala but, well, they didn't really mean it. The American Family Association (AFA) spent a million dollars to rent the stadium, and they weren't investing in anything other than creating more Christians and forcing their belief system into the institutions of the U.S. government. The AFA has such a long record of vitriolic attacks on gays and lesbians and non-Christian religions that the Southern Poverty Law Center had categorized the organization as a hate group along with Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan. Donald Wildmon, AFA's founder, his employees and publications, have claimed that, "Jews favor homosexual rights more than other Americans," deftly smearing two groups of people with one brief declarative sentence, and that "homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine, and six million dead Jews." Obviously, Wildmon and his minions teach religious fealty and not history since under Hitler gays were, in fact, rounded up, made to wear a pink triangle, and, eventually, killed by poison gas. Bryan Fischer, who is in charge of issues and policy analysis for the AFA, once wrote that welfare caused black women to "rut like rabbits." Wildmon's son Tim, who is AFA's president, told the Texas Tribune that Jews, Muslims, atheists, and all non-Christians would "go to hell" if they did not accept Jesus Christ as their saviors. Perry supporter Robert Jeffress, a pastor in a Dallas mega church, seemingly holds the same belief regarding Mormons; he described the religion as a cult when introducing Perry to a values voters' convention in Washington, D.C. He did not back away from his assertion, either, and went on a media tour to push his idea. Perry never moved to denounce Jeffress but said he disagreed with his characterization of Mormonism as a cult. The Texas governor did not say he thought Mormons were Christians.

Going to the prayer rally scared the hell out of at least one Jewish reporter. "Yeah, they had a circumcision pat down to get in here," he joked. "Was kind of nice. I went back through a second time so they could be sure about me."

There wasn't actually much funny about Rick Perry's prayer gathering, (well, except for the long lines at concession stands buying cheesy nachos, peanuts, popcorn, and hotdogs even though it was billed as a day of prayer and fasting). The unnoticed was what became unnerving. By attending the event, Perry had aligned himself with a radical religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), which is built upon a concept called "Dominionism," and amounts to a coup de god. Dominionists are convinced they have an obligation to serve god by taking control over all of the institutions of government and daily life in order to prepare the earth for the return of Jesus. According to the teachings of their living prophets and apostles, god lost control of the earth when the devil tempted Adam and Eve and the only hope for humankind is to wage warfare against the demons running governments, churches, schools, and probably also your favorite corner pub. NAR is conducting what it refers to as a Seven Mountains Campaign to take over American culture by defeating the demons in charge of arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. The business thing might be right; there is something demonic about the price of an iPad or a gallon of gasoline, and polling suggests that many liberals would rejoice if Dominionists got Jersey Shore cancelled.

As Rick Perry looked out across the dancing, swinging, swaying, and chanting people arrayed from about the 40 yard line to the Houston Texans end zone (which is otherwise rarely occupied), the people at his side, two leaders of the Dominionist movement, were pleased by his presence. Alice Patterson, who is one of the apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, had been traveling Texas since 2002 trying to convince voters that the Democratic Party was composed of "an invisible network of evil comprising an unholy structure, which was unloosed by the biblical character Jezebel." Forrest Wilder, writing in The Texas Observer, indicated that Patterson claims to have seen these Democratic demons around the ankles of Jezebel during a 2009 meeting of prophets in Houston. She saw "Jezebel's skirt lifted to expose tiny Baal, Asherah, and a few other spirits. There they were, small, cowering trembling little spirits that were only ankle high on Jezebel's skinny legs." Sure, you're thinking, "tiny Baal beneath a lifted skirt?" But that's just too easy.

The African American minister standing just to Rick Perry's left on the stage, C. L. Jackson, joined Patterson in her exultations. Jackson, who Perry embraced before he left the stage, is not one of the NAR's apostles but is spending his time trying to convince other African Americans that this Christian movement must infiltrate government and they need to be a part of that effort. Jesus just isn't coming back until all of the protestant religions have been united, abortion and homosexuality are eliminated, and all Jews are converted to Christianity, all of which makes Jesus seem kind of high maintenance. According to extensive research and reporting conducted by Rachel Tabachnick and Frederick Clarkson of the Talk to Action website, at least eight of the planners of The Response were apostles in the New Apostolic Reformation movement to prepare the world for the End Times. But there is much work yet to do for NAR. Jews won't convert easily and the Demonic Dems keep fighting for a woman's right to choose and equal rights for people born with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. It's going to be a while before there will be nothing left for anyone to do but find a place to sit and wait for Jesus.

As awareness increases of Perry's alignment with the New Apostolic Reformation, Jewish voters will likely be troubled. The Texas governor is embracing a theology that envisions its fulfillment of prophecy with the conversion of Jews to Christianity and the destruction of Israel in the Battle of Armageddon. He was not questioned about the Dominionists when he made his first campaign to trip to New York to give a speech about Israel. The language he used was rife with political insensitivities and blamed the Obama administration for "appeasement" of the Palestinians. Perry said that he favored continued construction of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and that as a Christian he had what he described as a "directive" to protect and support Israel. The terminology was an inexact expression of an evangelical belief that Israel's fate is connected to the return Christianity's messiah at the end of time. Perry, consequently, supports the Dominionists who want to convert all Jews. At the same time, Perry expresses support for Israel, which the Dominionists and evangelicals envision being destroyed as part of the fulfillment of prophecy.

Robert T. Hughes, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Religion at Messiah College in Pennsylvania, said the Texas governor's position is impossible to intellectually reconcile. "These fundamentalists like Perry, who appear to be supporting Israel, in fact don't, because the theology calls for the full destruction of all Jews who don't believe. That's the script they believe in. It always surprises me that the state of Israel welcomes these fundamentalists as friends because they aren't Israel's friend. They are about Jesus. Everybody else gets annihilated in the end."

Israel may exercise caution with Rick Perry but he is the prophet that the New Apostolic Reformation has envisioned to take over the "mountain" of government. Perry loves them, too, but not just for their rockin' radical Christianity. Tabachnick describes this movement as a kind of religio-political hybrid with Prayer Warrior Networks in all 50 states, and that's probably a part of what gets the spirit to moving in Perry. In secular terms, that's a pretty healthy GOTV, or "get out the vote," operation. The prayer networks are direct conduits to church congregations and ministries all across the country.

"I believe it's [Perry's and other politicians' interest in NAR] because they've built such a tremendous communication network," Tabachnick told The Texas Observer. "They found ways to work that didn't involve the institutional structures that many denominations have. They don't have big offices, headquarters. They work more like a political campaign."

President George W. Bush's political strategist, Karl Rove, made effective use of religious groups to win re-election in 2004. The Bush campaign organized churches and ministries and urged them to use their membership directories to register voters and get their souls to the polls on Election Day. The general assumption, when approaching certain denominations, is their vote will be conservative, so if they vote, they're probably voting Republican. The challenge for Republicans with Christian voters isn't persuasion; it's motivation. In 2000, the Rovian construct of "compassionate conservatism" left these voters cold, and hundreds of thousands stayed home. In 2004, Rove used gay marriage and abortion as issues to motivate Christian voters, and their numbers helped Bush in swing states like Ohio. Although The Response said all the right things about there being nothing political about its assembly of worshippers, the signup list of more than 30,000 attendees got an email a few weeks later from Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association (AFA), the event's sponsor.

"Today, I want to introduce you to Champion the Vote, a friend of AFA, whose mission is to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012," Wildmon wrote.

Even a small percentage of that number of voters can turn a presidential election. These people are not going to cast their primary ballots for a Mormon, and Michelle Bachman (plus being a female, she has a more "traditional" role to play, according to NAR) didn't make it to Houston for The Response. Champion the Vote is pushing attendees from The Response to register and talk to other Christians, get them to register, too, and then vote for a candidate with a Biblical approach to government. (Any idea who best fits that description for the New Apostolic Reformation?)

There is always something unsettling to people without religion when they see a crowd of worshippers demonstrating their faith in a great public exhibition. As Rick Perry and the religious leaders stood before the podium and the cameras, the rapt, glassy-eyed look on the faces of so many in the audience suggested scenes from one of the History Channel's black and white films from pre-war Germany. The description may be harsh but the perception was unavoidable, and certainly more on point than Dobson's slander of Obama. A creepy kind of Christianity emerges, which may be why one of Jesus' apostles taught that god did not want anyone to pray in public. The practice was denounced in Matthew, 6:5-7, a long, long time before anyone had ever thought of launching a presidential campaign by having a prayer rally in a football stadium.

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you they have their reward. (This, reward, presumably, is not the presidency). But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

Obviously, there was nothing secretive about The Response or Rick Perry's involvement in turning Reliant Stadium into a public prayer palace. There were websites and video promotions and email campaigns and numerous marketing efforts by the New Apostolic Reformation. Maybe Perry had an oil lobbyist find them a loophole or two in their Bible so they could pray publicly without sin.

The rampant hypocrisy made an uglier mess than the Texans football team's defense usually did when Peyton Manning visited that stadium. The governor of Texas and his prayer pals at The Response might have widely proclaimed they are in favor of religious tolerance but the goal is one, gigantic Christian family running the world. They say they don't hate Jews or Muslims; they are simply sad for non-believers and are praying for them to see the light and convert, which the apostles think is inevitable. If Reliant Stadium had been filled with Muslims on prayer rugs, though, the tolerant Christians would have been parading in protest outside, regardless of the 100-degree Houston heat.

At a news conference the day before the prayerapalooza, members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations made a tenacious grasp at the abundantly obvious. "If it had been a Muslim governor, head of state, and he elected to have Muslim prayer, and opposed bringing other people in, that would have been a big issue," said Mustafa Carroll of CAIR, a comment to which most observers responded, "Duh, this is Texas."

The prophets, apostles and followers of the New Apostolic Reformation have operated as if they were invisible from the scrutiny of the general culture. They resist any attempts to label their endeavors and dismiss suggestions they are making progress with their plans to infiltrate the seven "mountains." In fact, the mainstream media have almost universally failed to notice the movement or its importance in religion and politics. After Michelle Goldberg of Salon wrote about Dominionism and the NAR, CNN's anchor Wolf Blitzer and analyst Jack Cafferty admitted they had never heard of the term, what it meant, or the NAR, which likely indicated that the hundreds of journalists at The Response had little idea of what was transpiring right in front of their notebooks: Rick Perry was firmly aligning himself with a Christian reform movement whose leaders have told the governor they see him as a divine prophet to take over the government for god and lay the foundation for Christianity to become the planet's only religion. They actually do want to take over the world. Jesus is still coming, apparently, but not until Rick's work is done.

"I like him," a large prayer rally woman said between her loud exhortations of "Amen!" "I think he's a good Christian man who can get our government back to god."

Perry was so focused on the adoring throngs of worshipers at Reliant Stadium that he didn't notice the suffering people he was elected to serve. If he were more closely adhering to the scripture of the faith he was parading as the guiding force in his life, the governor might have facilitated policies to help the disenfranchised in his state. Instead, he had made life more difficult for the unfortunate, whom he has barely ever seemed to notice. A little more than 5 miles distant at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston, police estimated that 100,000 people showed up for free school supplies, immunization shots, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) had expected about 25,000 and was forced to close the doors on most of the needy families waiting in the morning sun. Regardless, 60,000 pounds of food were distributed as well as nylon backpacks for carrying school supplies and vouchers for haircuts and immunizations. Even in the energy capital of America, which Rick Perry claims is booming, school administrators and a few generous oil companies knew there was great need and organized the clinic and the distribution of school supplies.

Fortunately, additional help was expected to arrive for everyone in financial trouble. Just back down the road at the godathon, Governor Perry was praying to improve the situation of those enduring hardship. He had tried the same thing to end the drought but temperatures continued to rise in Texas toward hellish levels. The air conditioning bill the good Christians paid for the use of Reliant Stadium would have likely changed the course of many lives if the money had been spent instead on the needs of the poor just down the road. The million dollars to rent the stadium for The Response would have certainly eased the troubles of every one of those families turned away from the school supply and food giveaway at the convention center.

Instead, they got Perry's prayers and lamentations.

"Our hearts do break for those who suffer," he said, "those afflicted by the loss of loved ones, the pain of addiction, the strife that they may find at home, those who have lost jobs, who have lost their homes, people who have lost hope."

Celebrants did not appear to be speaking in tongues, though Perry's did sound forked. During the course of his decade long administration, the governor of Texas has been more accomplished at praying in public than helping those in need. In both his personal life and government policy, Rick Perry has shown virtually no interest in giving or providing services to assist his constituents who have "lost hope." He completely ignores the teachings of Jesus and his instructions to assist "the least of these brothers and sisters."

Hughes, the religion professor at Messiah College, finds the Texas governor's public image regarding the poor to be hypocritical. "Rick Perry really bothers me," he said. "If he were truly a Christian, he wouldn't be worrying about gay marriage and the other issues that motivate the evangelicals he's trying to enlist. What has he done as governor, for the poor, the dispossessed? I cannot think of even one fundamentalist leader who has in any meaningful way stepped up in behalf of the poor. They never put poor people or the sick or dispossessed at the center of their agenda. It seems like the louder they talk about Jesus the less they do for the poor. That's what I find very disturbing about Rick Perry."

And there is an abundance of clues Perry does not notice the poor.

The best evidence comes from his federal income tax returns. In his three most recently reported filings from 2007 to 2009, Perry's charitable giving to his church ranges from paltry to non-existent when compared to his income. In 2007, his adjusted gross income, due to a lucrative real estate deal, was $1,092,810; his donation to his church that year was $90. The next year, the governor's earnings totaled $277.667 and his gift to his church rose to $2,850, which remains the most he has ever given during his ten-year term. He must have been unsettled by sharing that much of his money because in 2009, when he reported earning $200,370, Perry's charitable contribution to his church was listed as $0. His cumulative adjusted gross income over nine reporting years is $2,694,253 and his sum for church giving is $14,293.

The figures paint the picture of a publicly religious man who stopped reading the Bible before he got to 1 John, 3:18, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." Mitt Romney's Mormon church requires that their congregants "tithe" 10 percent of their annual earnings, which might be another reason Perry wants people to understand he's not a Mormon; he's not giving away 10 percent to a church. Perry's donations reach just over a half of one percent (.53%) of his accumulated yearly income during those nine reporting years. When he gave, the governor also did not miss a chance to make the most of a deduction. Clothing and household items donated to Goodwill were listed individually on his gifts to the charity (with Perry's liberal assessment of their value). The deduction reached $30,768.

Hope and faith are more politically useful to Rick Perry than charity.

The governor's charitable spirit appears as little as that "tiny Baal" one of the NAR apostles saw under Jezebel's skirt. Perry's personal disposable income is also much higher than the average Texas taxpayer's because he does not have similar monthly obligations. He has no mortgage payment. In fact, since 2008 when a Texas terrorist threw a firebomb at the mansion and destroyed the historic structure, Perry has been living in a $10,000 a month mansion taxpayers rent for him in the hills of West Austin, which includes a subscription to Food and Wine magazine. The Perry family does not pay utility bills, property taxes, nor do they need to purchase food, home insurance, buy gasoline, or make car payments. The governor's six figure annual incomes don't get stretched quite as thinly as the lower wage earners he remembers in his prayers.

The manifestations of Rick Perry's true attitude toward the less fortunate is much more profound and harmful in his government policies. Texas is no place to be if you are poor, unemployed, elderly, or in need of health care that you cannot afford. His philosophy is best articulated by an opening monologue from a movie Blood Simple, which was filmed in Texas by Ethan and Joel Coen. The character Loren Visser, played by the late actor J. T. Walsh, is explaining how whining about problems does nothing to fix your situation.

"And go ahead, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, watch him fly. Now in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else, that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas. And down here, you're on your own." Any poor, sick kid in Rick Perry's Texas can testify to that fact.

But Perry still turns to Jesus to help him get elected. During one reelection campaign he sat on a golden throne in the church of Pastor John Hagee in San Antonio. Perry's custom-made Luchesse cowboy boots (about $2,000 per pair, one named "Freedom," the other called, "Liberty"), were shining in front of him as Hagee urged his TV congregation and the 5,000 assembled in his gigantic sanctuary to get out and vote. Hagee, round in the face and square in his thinking, issued a dire warning to the 90 million people who are exposed to his broadcast ministry.

"Listen to me," he said. "I'll tell it to you plainly. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ and seek his forgiveness through his blood you are going straight to hell with a non-stop ticket."

Perry didn't flinch. From his ornate perch in the church's throne on a red carpet, he was comfortable with the fact that there aren't a lot of Muslims or Jews in Texas. Christians tend to choose the Republican Party's nominees, and also winners on Election Day. Hagee had condemned to eternal oblivion less than one percent of the state's electorate. Perry could live with that, which was proven by the Houston prayer rally.

"There's nothing he said that I could really disagree with," Perry told reporters. "My Christian faith teaches that the way to heaven is through Jesus Christ."

"So Jews and Muslims are going to hell?" The question came from a Jewish reporter.

"I said I don't disagree with Pastor Hagee," Perry answered.

Perry might be a little light in his Luchesses on public policy and his interpretations of the Bible but there is something politically and personally calculated about his religious fervor. When his behavior suggests that he believes Jews and Muslims are bound for hell in a gasoline suit designed by Jesus, Perry might be making another kind of statement. "My sins are not big sins. I'm a good Christian man. I'm not like they say I am. Don't believe what you hear. I'm godly and spiritual." Is he overcompensating for something by spiritually thumping his chest like Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard?

There is, of course, the possibility that Perry, like many politicians, suffers the additional sins of vanity and ego. His motivation for seeking public office has never been clear. Does he like the attention and the accumulative power? His political career has been marked by opportunism for himself and the wealthy individuals and corporations that have provided him financial support. Each time Perry has acquired a higher office, he has used his influence to add to his power structure and benefit his associates, which raises the essential question of what he might do if elected president. Rick Perry has a vision that has very little to do with the principles he espouses in the public forum.

And he has left a record that can be used to predict a troubling future for America under a Perry administration.

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