U.S. District Judge Gray Miller dismissed a federal lawsuit on Thursday that sought to prevent Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry from taking part in a planned evangelical Christian prayer rally he initiated in Houston.
Miller ruled the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) lacked standing to sue because the plaintiffs had not been coerced into attending the rally.
FFRF plans to appeal to the ruling.
“Nobody would have trouble seeing the injury if a governor aligned himself with a radical Muslim group and used his office to call all citizens to a daylong prayer to Allah rally,” FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement. “This event is no different.”
The group filed a legal complaint on July 13, asking 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.
The complaint said 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.”
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 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 Perry’s prayer rally.