Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas incumbent Gov. Rick Perry says he agrees with the Christian belief that non-Christians will be condemned to hell, prompting a rival in this week’s gubernatorial election to declare the Republican “doesn’t think very differently from the Taliban.”

Perry said in a report in the Dallas Morning News that he agreed with the Christian principle as stated by Cornerstone Church pastor John Hagee that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.

“If you live your life and don’t confess your sins to God almighty through the authority of Christ and his blood, I’m going to say this very plainly, you’re going straight to hell with a nonstop ticket,” Hagee said during a 90-minute service in San Antonio in which Perry was introduced to the megachurch’s congregation.

Asked if he agreed with Hagee, Perry told the Dallas paper, ” In my faith, that’s what it says, and I’m a believer of that.”

“I don’t know that there’s any human being that has the ability to interpret what God and his final decision-making is going to be,” Perry said later. “That’s what the faith says. I understand, and my caveat there is that an all-knowing God certainly transcends my personal ability to make that judgment black and white.

“Before we get into Buddha and all the others, I get a little confused there. But the fact is that we live in a pluralistic world but our faith is real personal. And my Christian faith teaches that the way is through Jesus Christ,” he said.

“He doesn’t think very differently from the Taliban, does he?” Kinky Friedman, an independent candidate for governor, told the Morning News.

“Being obsessed with who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell is kind of a pathetic waste of time,” he said.

Another independent, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, disagreed with Perry, opting for a multi-path religious belief.

“There are many ways to heaven. We’re all sinners, and we’re all God’s children,” she told the Morning News.

Chris Bell, a Democrat, called himself a Christian, too. But he said God is the only one who came make such decisions.

“I’m a Christian,” he told the paper. “Rick Perry certainly is entitled to his beliefs, but when you’re in public office, you need to respect people of all faiths and denominations.”

Perry said the acceptance of Christ is what his faith teaches, and he could not abandon that any more than anyone can pick which of the Ten Commandments to follow.

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