The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas announced Wednesday they would be partnering with Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) to host an alternative to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s prayer rally in Houston.
“Gov. Perry’s decision to sponsor a ‘Christians-only’ prayer rally is bad enough. That he turned to an array of intolerant religious extremists to put it on for him is even worse,” said Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“This event unites us in our conviction that government should have no favorite theology and that it must always strive to ensure that all citizens – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and others – are full and equal partners in the public square.”
The event, called “Family, Faith and Freedom” be held Friday evening August 5, one day before the start of the “The Response,” an evangelical Christian prayer rally in Houston.
Perry proclaimed August 6 as a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for our Nation to seek God’s guidance” and invited governors from across the nation to join his Christian prayer summit at Reliant Stadium. The website for the prayer summit says that Americans “must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles” because “some problems are beyond our power to solve.”
The Christian prayer rally has drawn criticism from a number of sources.
In early July, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow showed a series of clips of evangelical Christian preachers who are participating in Perry’s prayer summit. One preacher participating in the event has said that the stock market in Japan fell because the emperor had sex with a “sun goddess” demon. Another has proclaimed that Lady Liberty is actually a “demonic idol” meant to distract Americans from Christ.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent Perry from taking part in the evangelical Christian prayer rally he initiated.
The legal complaint asks the federal court to declare unconstitutional Perry’s organization, promotion and participation in the event because it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
It says Perry’s active participation in the event violates the U.S. Constitution by “giving the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs and non-beliefs, including by aligning and partnering with the American Family Association, a virulent, discriminatory and evangelical Christian organization known for its intolerance.”