(Christianity Today) From media mavens to grassroots activists, conservative Christian leaders are heaping praise on presidential candidate Rick Perry, an early but important show of support from a vital GOP constituency.
Initially unimpressed with the 2012 presidential field, some of these evangelicals now herald Perry's late entry as the second coming of Ronald Reagan.
Like Reagan, they say, Perry is a big-state governor, a staunch conservative and, significantly, a fellow Christian.
Perry, in turn, has suffused his campaign with religion, building on strategies honed for years in Texas politics.
He has huddled with social conservatives at a Texas retreat, hosted a high-profile Christian prayer rally in Houston and recited his prodigal-son spiritual testimony at the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University.
On Tuesday (Sept. 20), Perry said his Christian faith includes a "clear directive" to support Israel, a view shared by many evangelicals, who believe God gave the land to the Jewish people.
Early returns suggest the Texas governor's efforts are paying off, particularly among elder evangelical statesmen:
-- Donald E. Wildmon, founder and former head of the American Family Association, is endorsing Perry. The Mississippi-based AFA organized and spent $600,000 to finance Perry's prayer rally, called "The Response," and later directed its 30,000 participants to a new Christian voter-registration campaign. (Read more)