Peter J. Smith

Who is Rick Perry? (Part 1 of special report)

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith
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AUSTIN, Texas, August 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Texas governor Rick Perry is getting ready to step onto the national stage and officially announce his intentions to seek the Republican nomination for president of the United States. 

Perry, 61, is set to emerge on a crowded stage of GOP contenders, and many of them are wondering if he will be the “unity candidate” behind whom Republican, fiscal conservative, social conservative, religious, and Tea-Party voters will rally.

Current polls show that Perry’s emergence into the race would put him in direct contention with Romney. A USA Today/Gallup poll found Romney leading by 24 percent to Perry’s 17 percent, and a McClatchy/Marist poll showed Romney leading 21 percent to Perry’s 18 percent. 

Without even having declared yet, the possibility of a Perry candidacy has already shaken up the GOP race. With the spotlight on the Lone Star governor, the GOP faithful are getting a better look at the man who may be the one to challenge President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012.


Growing up Christian

Perry has been an Evangelical Christian since his youth, and often attends Lake Hills Church in west Austin, a church that has a membership of 3000 worshippers.

According to the Telegraph’s Toby Harnden, Perry grew up as the fifth generation of Texans to work the land in Paint Creek, which he described as a place with “the country values of church, family, neighborliness, thrift and hard work that now seem part of a bygone America beyond places like West Texas.” (See full story here)

According to Perry, the three things to do in his hometown were “school, church, and Boy Scouts.” Perry is an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the famously traditional values-centered youth organization.

It’s an honor he hasn’t left behind with his youth: Perry wrote in praise of the Scouts and their principles in his 2008 book, On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for.


Faith in the public square

Upon entering politics, Perry has maintained a record of defending religious expression in the public sphere.

He supported and signed a Texas bill in 2007, the “Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act,” clarifying that students and school employees alike had the right to express religious views in public, and that religious groups had the same right of access to public facilities as secular groups.

Perry advocated giving Texas schools the ability to teach intelligent design theory in addition to evolution.

He has also shown a conservative scientific viewpoint by strongly opposing the theory of man-made global warming, citing the lack of scientific consensus on the root causes of earth’s climate changes. 

But one thing that distinguishes Perry from the typical right-wing politician is his unabashedly public prayer life: the governor has called on Texans to pray and even fast in response to state crises or disasters. 

When wildfires were raging during a drought in Texas this spring, Perry released an official proclamation over the Easter weekend asking people of all faiths to pray for rain for three days, and to pray for firemen and other officials in danger.


The Response

“The Response”, last Saturday’s non-denominational Christian gathering in Houston, was Perry’s idea in December, after he won his third term as governor and before he began publicly courting a run for the presidency.

The event became a Christian invitation to people of all faiths to join in a day of prayer and fasting because the nation was facing a “historic crisis” that “demands a historic response from the church.” 

“We must, as a people, return to the faith and hope of our fathers,” said Perry. “The ancient paths of great men were blazed in prayer - the humility of the truly great men of history was revealed in their recognition of the power and might of Jesus to save all who call on His great name.”

While only 8000 persons had registered in advance for the event at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, over 30,000 participants showed up.

But Perry didn’t stop there: the Texas leader invited all other 49 US governors to participate. Only one accepted in person, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott participated by video.

Perry kept the event apolitical. However, political analysts noted that the event can only strengthen his image among Evangelical voters when he goes campaigning in early-decision states like Iowa and South Carolina.

(Perry’s speech at the Response can be viewed here)


States’ Rights and defending marriage

Perry is increasingly famous for championing the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution, by which states are granted whatever powers are not explicitly reserved to the federal government.

Despite a conservative record on marriage - Perry supported Texas’s 2005 amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman - his 10th Amendment loyalties led to some confusion among pro-family advocates when he indicated that New York’s decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” in June was “their business, and that’s fine with me.”

Perry later clarified that he was not defending same-sex “marriage,” but the principle allowing states to decide without intrusion by the federal government. He added that he supported a federal marriage amendment, which would mean an agreement by 3/4 of the states, to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman nationwide.

The Texas governor also defended Texas’s sodomy law, which the US Supreme Court struck down in 2002 in Lawrence v. Texas


Rick Perry vs. Mitt Romney

Rick Perry may emerge as the GOP’s anti-Romney candidate for another reason: the two men have a rivalry that stems partially from a quarrel over, of all things, the Boy Scouts.

While the Scouts have resisted enormous pressure from homosexual groups and their political allies to incorporate homosexual youth and Scout leaders into their ranks, Romney has argued that the Scouts should admit homosexual Scoutmasters. 

Romney, also an Eagle Scout, had argued in favor of allowing homosexuals or anyone “regardless of their sexual orientation” into the Scouts during a debate with Sen. Ted Kennedy in his 1994 Senate race.

Perry has also accused Romney, as CEO of Salt Lake City’s Winter Olympics, of denying Scouts volunteering opportunities there in order not to offend liberals in Massachusetts, where Romney was poised to run for governor.

Perry wrote in On My Honor that Romney “has parted ways with the Scouts on its policies over the involvement of gay individuals in Scout activities.”

Some supporters said that it was not Romney, but the Salt Lake Olympic committee’s minimum age of 18 for volunteers that was to blame. However, the rule nonetheless marked a huge break from past Olympics where Boy Scouts have enjoyed a public uniformed presence.

Next: Rick Perry’s pro-life legacy.

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Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
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Vatican pressing forward with reform of US feminist nuns: Cardinal Müller

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says the Vatican is pressing forward with plans to reform the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

In an interview published in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said that the reform of the LCWR, which was undertaken after an assessment of the group found serious doctrinal problems, will be carried out with the goal of helping them "rediscover their identity.”

“Congregations have no more vocations and risk dying out," Müller said. "We have first of all tried to reduce hostility and tensions, partly thanks to Bishop Sartain whom we sent to negotiate with them; he is a very gentle man. We wish to stress that we are not misogynists, we are not women gobblers! Of course we have a different concept of religious life but we hope to help them rediscover their identity.”

Moreover, the cardinal said that problems specific to the LCWR are not a reflection of all the women religious in the US.

"We need to bear in mind that they do not represent all US nuns, but just a group of nuns who form part of an association,” Müller said.

“We have received many distressed letters from other nuns belonging to the same congregations, who are suffering a great deal because of the direction in which the LCWR is steering their mission.”

Cardinal Müller's remarks confirmed the assertion he and the Holy See’s delegate to the LCWR, Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, made in an address to LCWR officials in Rome on April 30, that the theological drift the feminist nuns are taking constitutes a radical departure from the foundational theological concepts of Catholicism.

The Holy See “believes that the charismatic vitality of religious life can only flourish within the ecclesial faith of the Church,” Müller said in the address.

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“The LCWR, as a canonical entity dependent on the Holy See, has a profound obligation to the promotion of that faith as the essential foundation of religious life. Canonical status and ecclesial vision go hand-in-hand, and at this phase of the implementation of the Doctrinal Assessment, we are looking for a clearer expression of that ecclesial vision and more substantive signs of collaboration,” he stated.

The LCWR has openly defied the mandate of reform intended to bring their organization into line with basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, the Church, and sexual morality.

Among the CDF’s directives, to which LCWR has strenuously objected, is the requirement that “speakers and presenters at major programs” be approved by Archbishop Sartain. This, Müller has explained, was decided in order to “avoid difficult and embarrassing situations wherein speakers use an LCWR forum to advance positions at odds with the teaching of the Church.”

The LCWR has invited speakers to their Annual Assembly such as New Age guru Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Sr. Laurie Brink, who is particularly noted for flagrantly denying the Divinity of Christ and telling the sisters that to maintain their “prophetic” place in society they need to “go beyond” the Church and even “go beyond Jesus.”

In one of the first public statements of his pontificate, Pope Francis affirmed that the investigation and reform of the LCWR must continue.

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Brian Fisher

Birth mothers: real heroes of the pro-life movement

Brian Fisher
By Brian Fisher
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What does it mean to be brave? Is it the doctor who dedicates himself to improving the health of a third-world nation? Is it the woman who faces her third round of chemotherapy to fight the progression of cancer? Is it the teacher who forgoes the comforts of a suburban school to reach minorities in the inner city? All of these are examples of bravery demonstrated in exceedingly challenging circumstances. And our society longs for stories of bravery to inspire us and fill us with hope.

As someone who works day in and day out with those on the front lines of helping rescue babies from abortion, I’m no stranger to stories of bravery. I see courage every day in the eyes of the men and women who sacrifice their time and energy to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. I see it every time a young mom — despite being pressured by her parents or significant other to get an abortion — chooses LIFE. And perhaps more profoundly than in any other situation, I see it when an expectant mom with no relational support, job, or income chooses to place her baby for adoption rather than abort her son or daughter.

This was Nicky’s situation.

When Nicky found herself pregnant with her boyfriend’s child, her life was already in shambles. During her 26 years, Nicky had already given birth to and surrendered sole custody of a little girl, committed several felonies, lived in her car, lost several jobs, and barely subsisted on minimum wage. So when she met up with an old boyfriend, Brandon, Nicky believed she was being given a second chance at happiness. “Our first year together was beautiful. We were getting to know each other and deciding if we would stay together forever.” Unfortunately, a positive pregnancy test result changed everything.

“When I told him I was pregnant, Brandon sat down on the bed, looked me in the eyes, and told me to ‘get an abortion’.” Nicky says those three little words changed everything for her. “I became depressed living with someone who wanted his child ‘dealt with.’”  Like thousands of women every day, Nicky began searching online for information on abortion, hoping her boyfriend would eventually change his mind. Through our strategic marketing methods, Online for Life was able to guide Nicky to a life-affirming pregnancy center where she received grace-filled counsel. “The woman I sat with was beyond wonderful. She helped me to just breathe and ask God what to do….And so I did.”

Nicky left the pregnancy center that day with a new resolve to choose life for her child, even though she still wasn’t sure how she’d financially support a child. “I was alone with just $10 in my pocket…and without any type of plan for what I was going to do.” So Nicky relied on the support of the staff she met at the life-affirming pregnancy center. With their help and through a chain of fortunate events, Nicky was put in contact with the couple who would eventually become her daughter’s adoptive parents.

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After meeting this couple face to face and coming to terms with her own desperate situation, Nicky conceded that the best thing for her unborn child would be to place her in someone else’s loving home. She told Brandon about her plans and he agreed that adoption would give their child the best chance at a happy and secure future. He even returned home to help Nicky prepare for the birth of their child. “The weeks leading up to my delivery were filled with a mixture of laughter, tears, protectiveness and sadness,” Nicky recalls. But one sentiment continued to be shared with her. “Brave…so brave.” That’s what everyone from the life-affirming pregnancy center to the adoption agency to the birthing center kept calling Nicky. “The nurses kept coming up to me and telling me they were honored to care for and treat someone like me.” After several weeks of preparation, Nicky finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and she made the dreams of a couple from the other side of the country come true.

Nicky’s adoption story continues to be riddled with a strange combination of pain and joy. “I cry every day, but I know my baby, who came out of a very bad time, ended up being loved by people from across the country.” When asked what message she’d like to share with the world about her decision to give up her child for adoption, Nicky responds, The voice of the mother who gives up a baby for adoption isn’t heard. We need to change that.”

To learn more about Online for Life and how we’re helping to make stories like Nicky and her daughter’s story a possibility, please visit OnlineforLife.org.

Author, speaker, and business leader Brian Fisher is the President and Co-Founder of Online for Life, a transparent, metric-oriented, compassion-driven nonprofit organization dedicated to helping rescue babies and their families from abortion through technology and grace.

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New York farmers stop hosting weddings after $13,000 fine for declining lesbian ceremony

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By Dustin Siggins

New York farmers Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were ordered last week to pay $13,000 for not hosting a same-sex "wedding," say they are closing that part of their operation.

"Going forward, the Giffords have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their farm, other than the ones already under contract," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) lawyer James Trainor. ADF represented the Giffords in their legal fight against New York's non-discrimination law.

Last week, the Giffords were ordered to pay a $10,000 fine to the state of New York and $3,000 in damages to a lesbian couple, Jennifer McCarthy and Melisa Erwin, who approached them in 2012 about hosting their "wedding." The Giffords, who are Roman Catholic, said their religious convictions would not let them host the ceremony, but that McCarthy and Erwin could hold their reception on their property.

Unbeknownst to the Giffords, the lesbian couple recorded the two-to-three minute conversation. After declining to hold the reception on the Giffords' farm, on which they live and rent property, the lesbian couple decided to make a formal complaint to the state's Division of Human Rights.

Eventually, Judge Migdalia Pares ruled that the Giffords' farm, Liberty Ridge Farm, constitutes a public accommodation because space is rented on the grounds and fees are collected from the public. The Giffords argued that because they live on the property with their children, they should be exempt from the state law, but Pares said that this does not mean their business is private.

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Trainor told TheBlaze that the Giffords' decision to end wedding ceremonies at Liberty Ridge “will hurt their business in the short run," but that was preferable to violating their religious beliefs.

“The Giffords serve all people with respect and care. They have hired homosexual employees and have hosted events for same-sex couples,” he said.

However, "since the state of New York has essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions," Trainor explained to LifeSiteNews. "No American should be forced by the government to choose between their livelihood and their faith, but that’s exactly the choice the state of New York has forced upon the Giffords."

"They will continue to host wedding receptions," said Trainor.

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