Published January 08, 2015
LENGTH: 30 seconds
AIRING: On Iowa broadcast and cable stations.
KEY IMAGES: Rick Perry, in a brown barn jacket and dark blue shirt, speaks to the camera as he walks up a grassy hill.
"I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian," the Texas governor says. "But you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school."
He continues, "As president, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again."
ANALYSIS: Struggling for traction in the Republican contest, Perry is gambling that the religious conservatives who typically dominate Iowa's kickoff caucuses will warm to his candidacy if he appeals to them with a socially conservative message. He's also drawing a contrast with rival Mitt Romney — whose Mormon faith gives many evangelicals pause — and Newt Gingrich, who recently converted to Catholicism but has been divorced twice and has acknowledged infidelity in his first two marriages.
But this ad, which attacks President Barack Obama on gay rights and religion, is misleading and inaccurate.
Perry's suggestion that Obama has led the way in banning prayer in public school is factually wrong.
The Supreme Court prohibited school prayer in two landmark decisions in 1962 and 1963, calling it an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. The court has repeatedly reaffirmed restrictions on religious expression in public schools, including a decision banning the posting of the Ten Commandments in school and another prohibiting students from using a school loudspeaker to offer a prayer before football games.
Obama signed legislation earlier this year repealing the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that prohibited gays from serving openly in the military. The legislation was passed by both the House and Senate with the support of several Republicans, and had the backing of several high-ranking military officials including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While many religious conservatives may not support gay rights, it's a stretch to characterize the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell as an Obama "war on religion."
The ad is Perry's second of the campaign on the theme of religious faith. Both ads refer to faith as a factor shared by the nation's past leaders, but neither recognizes that the nation's Christian founders established the country on a constitutional principle that separates church and state.