The rally was seen as one of the biggest tests of Mr. Perry’s political career, coming as he nears a decision on whether to seek the Republican nomination for president. While the event will be sure to help Mr. Perry if he tries to establish himself as the religious right’s favored candidate, it also opens him up to criticism for mixing religion and politics in such a grand and overtly Christian fashion.

In many ways, the rally was unprecedented, even in Texas, where faith and politics have long intersected without much controversy — the governor, as both a private citizen and an elected leader, delivering a message to the Lord at a Christian prayer rally he created, while using his office’s prestige, letterhead, Web site and other resources to promote it. Mr. Perry said he wanted people of all faiths to attend, but Christianity dominated the service and the religious affiliations of the crowd. The prayers were given in Jesus Christ’s name, and the many musical performers sang of Christian themes of repentance and salvation.

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