Group Says Perry Prayer Day Unconstitutional

A group that says it wants to protect the separation of church and state is suing to stop Governor Rick Perry from leading a day of prayer here in Houston next month. Jack Williams reports.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation filed the lawsuit in Houston Federal Court. Perry has publicly  touted the day of prayer August 6th at Reliant Stadium.  

"As an elected leader, I'm all too aware of government's limitations when it comes to fixing things that are spiritual in nature. That's where prayer comes in and we need it more than ever."

Annie Laurie Gaylor is the president of The Freedom From Religion Foundation and says it's not right for Perry to endorse a
specific day of prayer.

"He has been criticized by many groups, including ours. We asked him to rescind the proclamation and we go no response.
It's been two months of kind of rabid evangelical promotion by the governor's office and we decided we had to go to court."  

Gaylor says it's unfair to groups like hers to have a public official leading a clearly religious event.

"We are a competing group with churches and with the American Family Association and here the governor is preferring them and their branch of Christianity over other religions and over us. That's not right. That's not what was intended by our secular founders." 

A representative from the prayer event, in a written statement, said "This kind of legal harassment is no surprise, but we will vigorously defend the rights of Americans to assemble and pray and we will win."

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...