On behalf of its 700 Texas members, the 16,500-member Freedom From Religion Foundation has called on Texas Gov. Rick Perry to disassociate from a prayer conclave August 6 at the Reliant Stadium in Houston and to rescind his prayer proclamation calling Aug. 6 a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for our Nation’s Challenges.” The Response: A Call to Prayer for a National in Crisis, although privately sponsored, was initiated by Perry.
The homepage of the website bears his open invitation as governor to “fellow Americans” to join him and other “praying people asking god’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation. There is hope for America. It lies in heaven, and we will find it on our knees.”
Perry has invited the 49 other governors and other public officials to participate in this “non-denominational Christian prayer and fasting” event to deal with “financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters.” So far, only one governor apparently has agreed to appear, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. At the Response’s website, Perry wrote: “As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”
The event, self-described as “a non-denominational, apolitical Christian prayer meeting,” has adopted the American Family Association’s statement of faith,” which, among other things, calls the bible the “only infallible, authoritative Word of God,” and talks about “the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ” and his “virgin birth, His sinless life, His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory.”
“As governor you represent not only Christians but atheists and agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, and other minority religious views. Your initiation of the prayer gathering in your official capacity, unabashedly promotes not just a religious event but a Christian event, sending an official message of endorsement of Christianity and of exclusion to many of your constituents,” wrote Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
“Nothing fails like prayer,” she added. “Our membership believes not in useless prayer, but in good works and action. We believe in public officials taking responsibility for the actions or inactions which have led to such crises. Prayer is the ultimate political copout. Prayer is what politicians fall back on when they don’t want to offer true leadership.”
FFRF called on Perry remove himself as an endorser of the event and to “stop misusing your public office to inappropriately inveigh and exhort your constituents to pray.”
The Houston Clergy Council in mid-June issued a statement condemning Perry’s proclamation of prayer and fasting, noting the American Family Association’s anti-gay and anti-Muslim record, and saying, “We ask that Rick Perry leave the ministry to us and refocus his energy on the work of governing our state.”
FFRF, which has taken the lead in challenging the National Day of Prayer, noted in its letter to Perry that his prayer proclamation misleadingly implied that the U.S. founders had prayed during the Constitutional Convention. There was no such prayer, which is “no surprise, as our U.S. founders wisely adopted an entirely godless and secular Constitution, whose only references to religion in government are exclusionary.”
Please contact Gov. Perry, Gov. Brownback and your own governor to express your objection to government-sponsored prayer revivals. About 15 percent of Americans are nonreligious, and even the most non-denominational prayers will never include us!
Gov. Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711-2428
Phone: (512) 463-2000
FAX: (512) 463-1849
Web contact form here.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
Office of the Governor
Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave., Ste. 241S
Topeka KS 66612-1590
You may also wish to contact your own governor’s office to ask that your governor not to attend Gov. Perry’s event or issue prayer proclamations entangling religion and government.