CHARLES CITY, Iowa - Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged churchgoers today to ignore the "politically correct police" who believe separation of church and state does not allow for faith to be present in the public arena, telling the churchgoers they are "biblically charged" to take their faith into the public sphere.
"In the world today, we get often told - particularly people of faith - that you leave your faith at the door or on the steps of a public arena, as those that I refer to as the 'politically correct police' who say you can't bring your faith into public arena," Perry told the crowd of nearly 90 Methodists at the First Wesleyan Church.
"You will be criticized. Do not be intimidated," Perry said. "Somebody's values are going to decide the issues of the day. Whatever they may be, whatever policies are being discussed in city council meeting or on the school board or at the state capitol or in our nation's capital. Somebody's values are going to be installed, if you will. The question is going to be, whose values? Is it going to be those of us of faith or is it going to be somebody else's values?"
Perry's charge was a repeat of a similar message he spread at two church services last Sunday in Waukee. Perry never mentioned his presidential campaign, nor did he discuss President Obama waging a "war on religion," a claim the Texas governor has made in recent weeks on the airwaves and speeches in Iowa. Instead, he relayed Bible passages such as Isaiah 6:8, which reads "Here am I, Send me."
At the conclusion of his speech, Pastor Denis Bachman thanked Perry "for taking a stand" for people of faith and told the group of worshipers to take note of the marquee outside the church, which reads: "We're not afraid to say Merry Christmas around here."
The church service was sprinkled with singing of hymns, gospel readings, and a performance by nearly 20 children donning birthday hats while singing "Happy Birthday Jesus" at the beginning of the hour of worship. Later on in the service, the pastor suggested Santa Claus did not exist, but much to the relief of older churchgoers, the children did not seem to notice the pastor's message.
The Texas governor attended but did not speak at an earlier church service at the nondenominational Clear Lake Evangelical Free Church.
After the two church services, Perry feasted on a lunch of fried chicken from the buffet at Dave's Restaurant and greeted diners at the small restaurant. Perry topped off his meal with a dessert pudding and a turnover.
Perry will hold a meet and greet in New Hampton and a townhall in Decorah this afternoon.