One thing that’s unusual from an East Coast perspective is the overt religiosity of Republican politics in Iowa. Caucus time here frequently finds the candidates vying for the role of most ardent defender of religious values — and Christian values voters trying to glean clues about which aspirant God prefers.

No one has been more aggressive — and divinely presumptuous — in his appeal to religious voters than Texas Governor Rick Perry.

In a new TV ad, Perry declares that “some liberals say faith is a sign of weakness. They are wrong. I think we all need God’s help.” That ad concludes: “I’m Rick Perry. I’m not ashamed to talk about my faith. And I approve this message.”

During one speech last week, Perry implied, without quite saying as much, that he felt called by God to run for president. “I have basically been called to serve my country,” he said on Wednesday in Urbandale. “That’s what this election is about. It is not about me. It is about this country.” He added: “Your country is calling you. At a matter of fact, your children are counting on you to answer the call.

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