Federal Court Denies Petition To Bar Texas Governor From Prayer Rally

Originally published on July 28, 2011 1:20 pm

Update at 3:10 p.m. ET. Court Issues Ruling:

Saying that the Freedom From Religion Foundation did not have standing to sue, U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller threw out the lawsuit.

Our Original Post:

Today, a federal court heard arguments from a group that wants it to issue a restraining order to stop Texas Gov. Rick Perry from sponsoring a prayer and fasting rally planned for Aug. 6 in Houston.

As we reported last month, Perry, a potential presidential candidate, called on his fellow Americans and his fellow governors to join in him in "asking God's forgiveness, wisdom and provision for our state and nation."

As soon as the event was announced, it was controversial. Some organizations complained that it violated boundaries between government and religion, while others complained that it was a Christian-only event.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation brought the suit against Perry, because they say his "proselytizing actions brazenly cross the line between government and religion."

"Government must not take sides over religious matters," said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a statement. "The gubernatorial office, contrary to Gov. Perry's ambitions, is not a ministerial pulpit. He was elected governor, not pastor-in-chief."

FFRF objects to the fact that back in June, Perry issued a proclamation declaring Aug. 6 a "Day of Prayer and Fasting for our Nation's Challenges." They also object to robocalls being placed across Texas with Perry urging them to head to Reliant Stadium for the rally.

FFRF argues that five of their Texas members "feel excluded and demeaned by the Governor's promotion of this Christian prayer rally."

Perry for his part defended the event, telling the AP, that it was like President Obama's participation in the National Day of Prayer.

"My prayer is that the courts will find that the first amendment is still applicable to the governor," the governor said.

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