Anita Perry, wife of presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry, spoke with CNN earlier this week about her husband's faith and the spiritual crisis he went through at age 27.
Rick Perry “is more spiritual than people think,” Anita Perry said, “because we tend to take that very privately. When I talk about my faith, I become very emotional. When I talk about my family, I become very emotional. So, it's not something that we blast out there, it's something that we tend to be more private about, and I just think that's everybody's personal choice.”
Before announcing his candidacy for president, Rick Perry led an Aug. 6 prayer rally, called “The Response.” The Houston football stadium where the event was held had about 30,000 people that day.
At the event, Rick Perry said that “the response” of our nation should be repentance. “You call us to repent, Lord, and this day is our response. We give it all to you. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen,” Rick Perry prayed.
Rick Perry also emphasized the non-partisan nature of the event when he said, “He’s a wise, wise God, and he’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party, or for that matter, he’s wise enough to not be affiliated with any man-made institutions. He’s calling all Americans, of all walks of life, to seek him, to return to him, to experience his love and his grace and his acceptance, experience a fulfilled life regardless of the circumstances.”
When Rick Perry speaks to Christian audiences on the campaign trail, he talks more about his “faith journey.” In particular, he talks about 1977, when he was 27 years old and had returned home from the military. He felt “lost spiritually and emotionally, and I didn't know how to fix it,” Rick Perry told students at Liberty University on Sep. 14.
“It was a really difficult time for him. He was really searching,” Anita Perry said.
The lack of structure in his life at that time likely brought about his crisis, Anita Perry believes. Rick Perry had grown accustomed to a structured lifestyle from his time as a Boy Scout, in the Cadet Corps at Texas A&M University, and in the Air Force.
When asked, “how much did God figure into that?,” Anita Perry said, “I think God probably had a big part, but ... I wasn't in on that with him. He searched that with other people. Those people, I'm not sure who all they were, but I think he found the answer he needed.”
Rick and Anita Perry were childhood friends, and married in 1982, five years after Rick’s spiritual crisis.
Rick and Anita Perry identified with the United Methodist Church, a mainline Protestant denomination, until 2007, when they started attending Lake Hills, an evangelical Protestant denomination with a contemporary-style worship service.
Rick Perry has spent most of the last week in Iowa, where the first caucus in the nation will be held in less than two months. He is scheduled to appear in two debates this week, in Michigan on Wednesday and in South Carolina on Saturday.