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Rick Perry's prayer rally causes national stir

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July 15, 2011

Texas Governor Rick Perry

By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN, Texas: Governor Rick Perry is heading an upcoming event in which citizens are invited to pray and fast for the state of the nation. The event, titled "The Response: A call to prayer for a nation in crisis," has renewed the public discussion over separation of church and state in America. It is scheduled to take place August 6th at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

The event’s website explains its purpose: "America has been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. The youth of America are in grave peril economically, socially, and, most of all, morally. There are threats emerging within our nation and beyond our borders beyond our power to solve...There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.."[1]

Governor Perry told an MSNBC reporter on Thursday that more than 6,000 people are planning to attend so far, including Kansas governor Sam Brownback. The rally's invite list includes all of the nation's governors, Obama administration officials, and the members of the Texas State Legislature.[2]

While Perry's prayer rally has inspired and motivated many, it has caused quite a stir with others. The Wisconsin based Freedom from Religion Foundation has filed Federal suit in attempt to stop Perry from speaking at the event. The organization claims “Gov. Perry's distasteful use of his civil office to plan and dictate a religious course of action to 'all citizens' is deeply offensive to many citizens, as well as to our secular form of government."[3] In a previous landmark case the Foundation lost the battle to prevent violation of the First Amendment's guarantee to freedom of state sponsored religion. An appellate court ruled that Obama’s recent observance of a National Day of Prayer, which was established in 1952, was just as no harm was proven.[2]

Much concern has also been raised over some of the sponsors of the event. One such sponsor is the American Family Association-who controversially have called for the boycott of companies who provide benefits to same-sex couples. Others are simply concerned that the Governor is using the rally as a distraction from the state’s budget crisis.[4]

Opposition to the event has not inhibited Gov. Perry. His Deputy Press Secretary issued the following statement on Wednesday: "Gov. Perry is looking forward to the Aug. 6th prayer event. He believes it will serve as an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God, seeking his wisdom and guidance as our nation navigates the challenges before it. The pending litigation does not affect plans for the prayer event to move forward as planned."[3] Perry has made several public statements in which he clearly communicates his conviction even in the face of the national attention he has received. Ultimately, citizens will have to wait until August 6th to see how the conflict amongst the Governor and his critics plays out.[2]

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