An Interfaith Response to Governor Perry’s “Response”

A bunch of us affiliated with the Coalition of Mutual Respect signed a statement of concern. Read it here.

One of Houston’s greatest strengths is its religious diversity.  As part of the Anti-Defamation League’s Coalition for Mutual Respect, we are keenly sensitive to the fact that Houstonians may pray differently or not pray at all.  We cherish the fact that we can pray freely in our own way, because our founding fathers wisely envisioned and provided for a nation grounded in the principle of separation of church and state.  This freedom from government imposed religion allows all religions to flourish in our democratic society.  It is with this thought in mind that we express our concern that Governor Rick Perry has called for a full day of exclusionary prayer on August 6, 2011.  This religious event is not open to all faiths, as its statement of beliefs does not represent religious diversity.

Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. His official involvement with the Response at minimum violates the spirit of that duty.  By his actions, Governor Perry is expressing an official message of endorsement of one faith over all others; thereby sending an official message of religious exclusion and preference to all Texans who do not share that faith.  We believe our religious freedom is threatened when a government official promotes religion, especially one religion over all others.  We urge our elected leaders, who have the privilege of representing us, to practice their own religion as they choose without seeking to impose their beliefs on others or using their official offices to divide citizens along religious lines.  They should be role models for all Americans, and can be by honoring and respecting our constitutional freedoms.