Group asks court to bar Perry from Houston prayer rally

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 13, 2011 5:03 PM
Group asks court to bar Perry from Houston prayer rally

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN (Reuters) - A group of atheists and agnostics is suing to stop Texas Governor Rick Perry from participating in his much-trumpeted prayer rally in Houston next month.

The suit says the Republican governor, who is considering a run for president, is officially endorsing evangelical Christianity in violation of the U.S. Constitution by organizing and promoting the event as a state leader and on his official Texas governor's website.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a government and religion watchdog group that says it has 16,600 members, filed the suit on Wednesday in a federal district court in Houston.

A Perry spokesman said the governor is moving ahead with the event, billed as "The Response" and hosted by the Mississippi-based American Family Association, a conservative Christian activist group.

"Governor Perry believes the prayer event will serve as an opportunity for Americans to pray together for our nation," spokesman Mark Miner told Reuters on Tuesday.

"This lawsuit does not affect plans for the event and it will proceed as scheduled."

"The Response" is set for August 6 at Houston's Reliant Stadium.

Last month, Perry proclaimed that day the National Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation's Challenges and invited governors across the country to join him at the event.

The rally is free and open to the public.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)