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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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