Back in October, when Gov. Rick Perry (R-Tex.) was attempting to retool his presidential campaign after a few bad debate performances, Republican media strategist Alex Castellanos warned about the negative-ad assault to come. “Perry won’t just go negative,” he told Politico. “He’ll make your television bleed and beg for mercy.” Three ads this month have my television begging, all right.

Perry hits three targets in a spot released yesterday on repealing ObamaCare. He smacks front-runner Newt Gingrich for supporting a coverage mandate. He whacks Mitt Romney for implementing such a mandate in Massachusetts. And he punches President Obama, “who forced it on the entire nation.” As attack ads go, this one is pretty tame, especially when you compare it to Ron Paul’s action-adventure, grab-you-by-the-throat style.

Perry turned up the heat a bit in a smiley-faced ad released last week touting his faith and how it guides him. “Now some liberals say that faith is a sign of weakness,” he says to the camera. “Well, they’re wrong.” He concludes, “I’m Rick Perry. I’m not ashamed to talk about my faith. And I approve of this message.” I’ve never been comfortable with folks who flash their faith like bankers who flash their cash. But I’m happy Perry is a man of faith and is proud of it. I just wish he and others who wear their faith on their sleeves were willing to consistently live up to the universal theme of all faiths: compassion for all people.

That’s why Perry’s new ad implicitly questioning the president’s faith — not to mention going after gays under the cloak of religion — is all kinds of irksome.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, 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.

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. I’m Rick Perry and I approve this message.

“Don’t be fooled by the anti-gay language,” said Brent Childers of Faith in America, a nonprofit working to counter religion-based bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. “It is obvious Gov. Perry doesn’t believe full human dignity should be afforded gay and lesbian people but that is not really the message behind this ad. Perry is hoping to gain favor with religious social conservatives by alleging President Obama stands against the Christian faith. Christian teaching contains a great number of guidelines on how Christians should treat others. I’ve yet to find a passage that would condone the type bigotry, prejudice and animosity that Gov. Perry is promoting with his ad.” Amen.

Obama has not, nor will he ever, declare a war on religion. To assert otherwise is to perpetuate the pernicious lie that the president is some sort of rogue “other,” a closet radical (of the Muslim variety, to be exact) hellbent on destroying the United States from his desk in the Oval Office. The scary thing is that there are far too many people who believe this garbage. Unfortunately, there will be plenty more where this came from. The primary campaign hasn’t even begun and I’m already begging for mercy.