Governors Should Reject Perry Prayer Invitation, Secular Coalition Says

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Secular Coalition for America urged the nation’s governors to reject an invitation from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to attend an explicitly Christian August 6 prayer gathering in Houston where Perry says the nation must “call upon Jesus to guide us” and ask for “God’s forgiveness, wisdom and provision.”

“The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country’s real-world problems,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, the national lobby for secular and nontheistic Americans. “Our nation’s governors represent Americans of all beliefs, not simply Christians. We urge all elected officials to reject Governor Perry’s invitation to attend this explicitly Christian platform for theocratic grandstanding that does nothing to offer substantive solutions to our country’s problems. By its own description, this event privileges Christianity over other religions and beliefs.”

On the website for “The Response,” Perry writes that “There is hope for America, and we will find it on our knees … [a]s a nation, we must come together, and call upon Jesus to guide us.” The site describes the event as a “non-denominal, apolitical Christian prayer meeting” that has adopted the statement of faith of the Christian extremist organization American Family Association, which states, in part, “We believe that there is one God. … We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. … We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.”

The Secular Coalition is urging all its supporters to contact their governors and ask that they stand up for all Americans, regardless of religion or worldview, by rejecting Perry’s invitation to this divisive, extremist-sponsored event and ask elected officials to work on solutions to substantive problems that face all Americans.

“Calling upon all Americans to embrace Perry’s personal belief system is an insult to the millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity, as well as the millions of secular Americans who contribute to society without pushing their views on others,” Faircloth said. “Religion should be a private matter, especially for elected officials in a secular government. Rather than lament that our nation’s challenges are insurmountable and ask that all Americans turn to an evangelical version of Christianity for solutions, our governors should instead focus on finding real-world solutions to real-world problems.”

Perry, who is rumored to be considering a run for president, earlier this year issued an official proclamation urging Texas residents to pray for rain as a solution to the state’s drought and wildfires. Last year, he claimed the Gulf oil spill might have been “just an act of God” that could not have been prevented.

The Secular Coalition for America is a 501(c)4 organization that serves as the national lobby for atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secular Americans. Composed of 10 diverse member organizations, SCA works to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. For more information, please visit www.secular.org.

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