This is Protestant Christianity 101. It is only controversial because a number of news outlets have selectively quoted Rick Perry or taken him out of context. The Secretary of Energy stated that Donald Trump is in office because God wants him there. Secretary Perry said the same was true for Barack Obama and other leaders.
This is not a wild Christian interpretation. It is theologically accurate. Romans 13:1-2 states, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
The word “authority” is exousia, which is a Greek word used by multiple authors in the New Testament for “one who has the authority to rule or govern,” according to the Dictionary of Biblical Languages. See also Luke 12:11.
In other words, while we flipped the lever or circled the bubble for the leader we want, this is all part of larger unseen cosmic scheme. A lot of people don’t like to think about it because it makes them feel like they are a puppet with God pulling the strings. But then they have a view of total free will and I’m a Calvinist. We have free volition, which is different from will. We get to act or refrain from acting in our daily lives, but as we choose where to plant our feet, God has provided the path.
There’s no reason to dive deep into the theological waters here other than to note this — it is a long held view within Christianity that our leaders are appointed by God. Both Paul and Peter compelled Christians to pray for their leaders even as their leaders were executing Christians.
The more remarkable thing about this mini-controversy is that so many in the media and political left acted as if this was unknown, fringe, or misstated. It is actually mainstream Christianity and that the media and many political activists did not know that reveals what a secular bubble they are in.
On top of that, we need to acknowledge that this would not be a controversy except that the media chose to selectively quote Rick Perry to turn it into a clickbait story. The controversy first arose by members of the press who chose to mischaracterize Rick Perry and suggest he was insisting we all had an obligation to support Trump because God appoints our leaders. He was not saying that at all and specifically did not say that.
But that would not have generated controversy and consequently would not have generated clicks.