Judge Dismisses Atheists' Suit, Allows Rick Perry to Attend Prayer Event

A Houston judge made a ruling Thursday that would allow Texas Gov. Rick Perry to take part in a prayer and fasting rally next month, dismissing a case brought by a group of atheists.

Judge Gray Miller tossed out the lawsuit Thursday afternoon after deciding that the plaintiffs had no legal standing in their attempt to block Perry from joining The Response, slated for August 6 at the Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for the governor, told ABC News he was pleased with the ruling.

"Governor Perry looks forward to participating in a day of prayer for our nation,” Miner told the network.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation argued in the suit that Perry attending the event would have violated the separation of church and state as laid out in the Constitution.

The group's members, who are atheists and agnostics, claimed Perry's attendance would give the appearance that "the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs and non-beliefs."

Perry defended his right to participate in the event during a public event Wednesday.

"My prayer is that the courts will find the First Amendment is still applicable to governors no matter what they might be doing," he told reporters.

"That what we’ve done in the State of Texas or the Governor’s office is appropriate and no different than what George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or President Truman or President Obama have done with a day of prayer."

The governor, believed to be considering a run for the White House on the GOP ticket, issued a proclamation last month declaring August 6 to be a "Day of Prayer and Fasting for our Nation’s Challenges."

Perry has partnered with the American Family Association and other faith groups to hold the daylong "Response" event. Organizers have not yet revealed in what role the governor will play in the event.

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