Rick Perry's Good Christian Message Is Being Packaged by an Atheist

The elaborate campaign rollout will be heavy on prayer

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry is announcing he's running for president Saturday, and he'll do it multimedia-style. Perry's event, in Charleston, South Carolina, will feature a video of a family with two blond kids praying around a table. The narrator reassures the viewer, "No matter what they’re raised to believe, my children should know that faith is none of the government’s business," Politico's Dale Levinthal reports. The funny thing about that is that the video was made by Michael Wilson, an atheist.

Wilson is a conservative activist and blogger for Big Hollywood who's best known for his antics as he promoted his film Michael Moore Hates America, in which he turned the liberal documentarian's confrontational style against him. Wilson tells Politico that he's not an "evangelical atheist," though, and he doesn't mind Perry's faith because the Constitution protects freedom of religion.
Perry will tell the crowd at his announcement:
"The change we seek will never emanate out of Washington... It will come from the windswept prairies of middle America; the farms and factories across this great land; the hearts and minds of God-fearing Americans -- who will not accept a future that is less than our past, who will not be consigned a fate of less freedom in exchange for more government."
Wilson seems to be okay with being excluded from the group of hearts and minds that bring change to America. He probably wouldn't have had much to do hanging out with Perry last weekend either. Perry's presidential announcement comes one week after his explicitly-Christian prayer rally for 30,000 people in Houston, where he asked Jesus to aid those "who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness." James Moore, Texas journalist and author of Bush's Brain, argues that this was Perry's way of distinguishing himself from Mitt Romney, the current GOP frontrunner, by saying "I am not a Mormon." Moore writes, "He's wearing his faith like a power tie while Romney stays quiet as a tabernacle mouse on the topic of religion."
The Hill's Niall Stanage says Perry "will fill the gaping void for a credible candidate from Dixie" in the 2012 lineup. Southern voters will feel they have more in common with Perry, Republican consultant Dave Woodward tells The Hill, and they'll think of the other candidates, "They don’t wear boots! They don't play football! He's one of us!" And that's probably why he's kicking off his campaign in South Carolina with a prayer.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.