Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gov. Goodhair's Prayerfest

by Edd Doerr

Texas Gov Rick ("Gov Goodhair") Perry has invited fellow governors to Houston on August 6 for his "Christians-only" prayerfest. Below are excerpts from a June 13 letter responding to Perry's invitation by a number of Houston clergy -- Lutheran, Methodist, American Baptist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian-Universalist, and others.

"We believe in a healthy boundary between church and state. Out of respect for the state, we believe that it should represent all citizens equally and without preference for religious or philosophical tradition. Out of respect for religious communities, we believe that they should foster faithful ways of living without favoring one political party over another. Keeping the church and state separate allows each to thrive and upholds our proud national tradition of empowering citizens to worship freely and vote conscientiously. We are concerned that our governor has crossed the line by organizing and leading a religious event rather than focusing on the people's business in Austin.

"We also express concern that the day of prayer and fasting at Reliant Stadium is not an inclusive event. As clergy leaders in the nation's fourth largest city, we take pride in Houston's vibrant and diverse religious landscape. Our religious communities include Bahais, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Unitarian-Universalists, and many other faith traditions. Our city is also home to committed agnostics and atheists, with whom we share common cause as fellow Houstonians. ..."

"Our deepest concern, however, lies in the fact that funding for this event appears to come from the American Family Association, an organization labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. ..."

This statement shows that cooperation between humanists and people in traditional religions is both possible and desirable.