A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit against the Texas’ governor for his coordinating and being an advocate for a prayer rally that the group says violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
Gov. Rick Perry, 61, declared that August 6th be a day of prayer and fasting and invited governors from across the nation to be with him in Houston on this special day.
His office calls the celebration a “non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer meeting hosted by the American Family Association,” a organization that believes “a culture based on Biblical truth best serves the well-being of our country.”
The governor’s proclamation itself does not mention AFA or Christianity. It cites moments in history when leaders turned to prayer, such as in 1787 when Benjamin Franklin urged for prayer in an address before the Constitutional Convention.
Regardless, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit on behalf of members residing in the state, accusing the governor of providing official recognition to a religious event.
According to the foundation, the governor is “giving the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs” and that “non-believers are political outsiders.”
In their 19-page complaint, the foundation seeks an “injunction prohibiting Governor Perry’s further involvement in the scheduled prayer rally, as well as an injunction against future uses of official indicia of the State of Texas in promoting and proclaiming the establishment of religion.”
A spokesperson for Perry told ABC in response to the lawsuit that the governor believes the rally is “an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God.”
Gov. Perry is the longest-serving governor in Texas history, chair of the Republican Governors Association, and a potential 2012 presidential hopeful.