Rick Perry is the longest-serving governor of Texas. After an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, he announced in June 4 that he is again joining the presidential race for 2016. Who is Rick Perry and what should Christians know about his faith?
Perry is a fifth-generation Texan whose family has stayed in the Lone Star State even before the Texas Revolution. He grew up attending a Southern Baptist and a Methodist church, the only two churches in his small hometown of Paint Creek.
In the 1980s, he and his wife Anita moved to Austin and they began attending Tarrytown United Methodist Church, the church attended by George W. Bush when he was still governor of Texas. The couple and their children were active in that church until they transferred to Lake Hills Church, a megachurch in Austin, in 2007.
In 2014, Perry reaffirmed his commitment to the Christian faith when he asked to be baptized again, this time in Little Rocky Creek - the same creek where the first Republic of Texas president Sam Houston was baptized - in an intimate ceremony with family and close friends.
"Gov. Perry has a deep and abiding faith in God," spokesman Felix Browne said, confirming Perry's baptism in the historic creek. "Like many people of faith, the governor wished to reaffirm his commitment in a way that holds great personal meaning."
Perry is known to be openly vocal about his faith. In 2011, when Texas was suffering from drought, he called for three days of prayer for rain through an official proclamation that says, "I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas."
He was criticized for proclaiming the days of prayer when, three months later, the drought worsened such that one town in Texas considered recycling urine into drinking water.
In 2011, he publicly defied the 1962 Supreme Court ruling that disallowed organized prayer in public schools when he participated in a prayer led by a Baptist pastor during a student assembly in an East Texas public school. The prayer was for the 9/11 attacks. Later on, he said he had no problem not following the Supreme Court ruling.
Perry has strong views supporting marriage and the protection of the unborn child. In 2006, he supported an amendment that bans same-sex marriage in Texas. In 2003, he signed the Prenatal Protection Act, which includes fetuses in its definition of the early stages of human life. In 2005, he signed a legislation that requires women below 18 years of age to get parental consent before going through abortion. And in 2013, he signed a bill that prohibited women from having abortions if they are more than 20 weeks pregnant.
Perry, who used to work as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, has gained the support of Army veterans including "Lone Survivor" Marcus Luttrell, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Thornton and, just recently, wife of the late "American Sniper" Chris Kyle, a highly decorated Navy Seal who is considered to be the deadliest sniper in American history.
Having known Perry and his wife for several years, Taya Kyle describes the couple as "good" and "humble" people, saying the governor's character, humility and support for veterans has drawn her to Perry's camp.
A 2011 New York Times article said of Perry, "Few political figures in America have so consistently and so unabashedly intermingled their personal faith and their public persona, peppering speeches with quotations from Scripture, speaking from the pulpit at churches, regularly meeting and strategizing with evangelical Christians and even, in one recent speech, equating public office with the ministry."
According to Perry, he already knew when he was 27 years old that he was called to the ministry.
"I've just always been really stunned by how big a pulpit I was going to have. I still am. I truly believe with all my heart that God has put me in this place at this time to do His will."