June 13, 2011; Source: Houston Chronicle | Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn't hold back when it comes to using his connection to faith to advance his political standing, even a possible presidential bid. But when it comes to giving back he's incredibly tight-fisted.
Perry, who the Houston Chronicle says "has never been shy about putting his faith on display," gave less than $15,000, or about a half percent of the $2.68 million he earned between 2000 and 2009, to churches and religious organizations. According to the newspaper, during much of the same period Americans "averaged gifts of nearly 1.2 percent of their income to churches and religious groups."
Michael Lindsay, incoming president of Gordon College and author of “Faith in the Halls of Power," says the amount of Perry's giving shows that "biblical teachings don't seem to weigh very heavily on the governor's action." One of the reasons Perry's religious giving is coming under attention now is because of a proclamation he issued last week for a national day of prayer and fasting that angered many because of its extremely pro-Christian focus – including the suggestion that Jesus can "guide us through unprecedented struggles" – and the fact the event is being sponsored by the nonprofit American Family Association (AFA), a group that has come under fire for advocating against gay rights.
The prayer gathering, which is scheduled to take place in Houston on Aug. 6, a week before the Republican straw poll in Iowa, "just automatically raises deep questions for thoughtful citizens about what is he up to," said the Rev. William K. McElvaney, a retired Dallas-area United Methodist minister and professor emeritus of preaching and worship at Southern Methodist University.—Bruce Trachtenberg