Yesterday we took the opportunity of Rick Perry’s recent speech at Liberty University to revisit his appearance on last year on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in which he went into depth about the “supernatural events” (mainly rain or lack thereof) that have driven his life.
If the governor’s visit to Liberty is any indication, the affinity that he displayed with the Religious Right in his TBN appearance is still going strong. Before Wednesday’s speech, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. gave Perry a rousing welcome, defending the governor for his controversial effort to require that girls in Texas recieve HPV vaccinations and calling Perry’s secession talk “gutsy.” Brian Kaylor of EthicsDaily, a publication of the Baptist Center for Ethics, reports that the ties between Perry and Falwell are even closer than what is being reported. Falwell was scheduled to take part in one of televangelist James Robison’s leadership summits, at which Religious Right leaders urged Perry to enter the race. While Falwell “could not make it,” Liberty University’s Vice President Johnnie Moore participated. Kaylor reports that Moore and David Lane, who organizes state-based “restoration” projects, were behind Perry’s appearance at Liberty:
Organized by Texas evangelist James Robison, the June meeting was a follow-up to a September 2010 meeting as Robison and other conservative Christians plotted to bring political revival and change to the 2012 elections.
Liberty’s chancellor, Jerry Falwell Jr., son of Liberty’s late founder, was scheduled to attend but could not make it.
Robison led a similar effort prior to the 1980 presidential election as he sought to defeat then-President Jimmy Carter. That effort culminated in an August 1980 rally in Dallas with then-Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan as the key speaker.
On Wednesday, Falwell introduced Perry at Liberty by talking about how much he “admired” Perry for “having the guts to say things that weren’t exactly politically correct, like when Governor Perry hinted that Texas might secede one day from the Union.”
Falwell also recounted saying several months ago – before Perry joined the presidential race – that “it was too bad” Perry was not running for president.
Falwell also said that Perry’s trip to Liberty was organized and made possible due to the work of religious-political organizer David Lane and Liberty’s vice president for executive projects, Johnnie Moore. Both Lane and Moore have been part of Robison’s group.
According to Perry, Lane and Robison inspired him to lead “The Response,” a prayer rally held last month at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Numerous other individuals in Robison’s group were key leaders in planning the event, which thrust Perry into the national headlines just days before he officially announced he was running for president.
Perry’s support among conservative evangelicals is one of the key factors to his rapid rise to the front of the Republican presidential primary polls.
His speech at Liberty University on Wednesday, his private meetings with Christian leaders in June and August, and his prayer rally in August demonstrate Perry’s efforts to mobilize conservative Christians and receive their support as he seeks to be what Robison and his group say they are hoping for – a new Ronald Reagan.