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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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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