Rick Perry Deals With Criticism Over Prayer Rally

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s prayer and fasting event slated to be held in Houston later this summer is drawing criticism from advocates of separation from church and state and gay rights organizations.

Earlier this week, Perry called upon U.S. governors, fellow Texans, and people from all backgrounds and Christian denominations to join him August 6 for a “solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation” at Reliant Stadium.

Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has attacked the governor’s involvement in “The Response” prayer event, which he compares to a “fundamentalist Christian revival service.”

In a letter to Perry, Lynn urged the governor to cancel the event or sever his ties to “a sectarian gathering that excludes millions of Americans.”

Lynn took issue with the The Response’s Christian statement of faith, which was adopted from the American Family Association, the main organization partnering with Perry to host the rally. He also found fault with a description found on the event’s website that says all those in attendance will be there “to proclaim Jesus as Savior and pray for America.”

“With all due respect, Gov. Perry, I must remind you that you were elected chief executive of the state of Texas – not its chief pastor. What you are proposing is not an inclusive event that welcomes all people,” wrote Lynn.

Perry defended the inclusivity of the prayer rally in an e-mail Friday.

“It is Christian-centered, yes, but I have invited and welcome people of all faiths to attend,” said the Texas governor, according to The New York Times.

Perry is also drawing criticism over his association with groups that have spoken out against gay marriage. American Family Association, which is funding the prayer rally, is known for its activism efforts to protect traditional marriage in the public square, including calls to boycott business that promote the homosexual agenda. Other leaders of The Response have also taken a stance against gay marriage in the past.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based gay rights organization, charged Perry with “aligning with groups who, on a daily basis, seek to demonize LGBT Americans.”

Perry responded to the assertions made about AFA, stating in his e-mail that AFA is “a group that promotes faith and strong families, and this event is about bringing Americans together in prayer,” the NY Times reported.

“I have made it clear that I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman,” he added in the e-mail.

The Response will be free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas has confirmed that he will attend.

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