WATCH: Atheist group files federal lawsuit seeking to stop Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer

Gov. Rick Perry

Speaking of violations of the separation between church and state, Houston’s Fox 26 reports that the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to put the kabosh on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s day of prayer at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Aug. 6. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims to be “the nation’s largest explicitly atheist/agnostic membership group,” previously has argued that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. “The answers for America’s problems won’t be found on our knees or in heaven, but by using our brains, our reason and in compassionate action,” says the Foundation’s Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister. “Gov. Perry’s distasteful use of his civil office to plan and dictate a religious course of action to ‘all citizens’ is deeply offensive to many citizens, as well as to our secular form of government.”

Read the full lawsuit here. The group’s press release, along with Fox 26’s report, is after the jump.

—  John Wright

RICK PERRY DAY OF PRAYER UPDATE: Oprah, the Antichrist and sex with demons

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been calling high-level Republicans in New Hampshire to discuss his possible entry into the GOP presidential race (does anyone still think he’s NOT running at this point?). As we’ve reported, Perry is also scheduled to speak at the annual dinner of a New Hampshire group that promotes “ex-gay” therapy. And it just so happens that Perry’s top adviser, Dave Carney, sits on the editorial board of one of New Hampshire’s leading daily newspapers. Gee, whom do you think they’ll endorse?

Meanwhile, Perry has picked up another right-wing speaking engagement, at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in September, where he’ll appear with equally nutty GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. (Could this engagement be a preview of a Bachmann-Perry GOP ticket in 2012? Let’s hope so.) The Austin American-Statesman reports on Perry’s trip to the school founded by deceased anti-gay bigot Jerry Falwell:

Perry will address a school convocation on Sept. 14, about five weeks after he plays host to the Response, a Christian prayer and praise meeting in Houston’s 75,000-seat Reliant Stadium. Perry tapped the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group, to organize and pay for the Houston event.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said there is no concern that the two events would lead voters to pigeonhole Perry as a one-note candidate who appeals only to social and religious conservatives.

“The governor is a man of faith and doesn’t shy away from talking about it,” Miner said.

Perry doesn’t shy away from talking about his faith, and he doesn’t shy away from associating himself with religious folks who are, quite simply, batshit fuckin’ crazy — people like Mike Bickle and C. Peter Wagner, who’ve both now endorsed Perry’s Day of Prayer in Houston on Aug. 6. Bickle believes Oprah Winfrey is the precursor to the Antichrist, and Wagner believes Japan is possessed by a demon who had sex with the country’s emperor. Seriously.

Via Right Wing Watch, below is video of Rachel Maddow’s report last week on Bickle, followed by video of Wagner’s explanation from 2009 of his emperor-demon sex theory.

—  John Wright

Task Force: Perry’s Day of Prayer ‘a profoundly harmful act’ that ‘demeans our common humanity’

Last Wednesday we called attention to the fact that only one LGBT group had issued a statement condemning Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer, funded by the gay-hating American Family Association. We also said we had reached out to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force but received no response. However, a spokeswoman for NGLTF says she never received our email because it was caught by her spam filter. In any case, the Task Force has now joined the handful of other LGBT groups that have issued statements since then. Here’s the statement that was sent over today from the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director for NGLTF:

“A designated hate group is the primary backer of Gov. Rick Perry’s so-called Day of Prayer. How exactly does this help heal our nation? It does nothing to foster a much-needed sense of community, peace and well-being. What it does do is fuel discord and division at a time when many people are hurting. The AFA has taken extreme positions that make our families more vulnerable to violence, bigotry and economic distress. This is not an act of love; it is a profoundly harmful act. This event as planned demeans our common humanity and makes a mockery of the principles of fairness and faith.”

—  John Wright

Truth Wins Out, GetEQUAL Texas join list of LGBT groups condemning Perry’s Day of Prayer

Wayne Besen

Truth Wins Out, which fights anti-gay religious extremism, has joined the list of LGBT groups — which already includes the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, the Houston GLBT Poltiical Caucus and National Stonewall Democrats  — that have issued statements condemning Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer funded by the American Family Association.

“This opportunistic and divisive publicity stunt unwisely marries politics and fundamentalism at the expense of our nation’s unity,”  Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen said in a press release today. “This offensive event should be immediately canceled. If not, we will consider organizing a counter action to mobilize the masses who believe in a free and diverse nation that celebrates pluralism.

“It is time the Republican Party is held accountable for its partnership with one of the most insidious groups in America,” Besen added. “The American Family Association’s inflammatory rhetoric is dangerous, and it is unconscionable that Perry and the GOP are embracing such a fringe organization. Is this what the modern GOP stands for?”

GetEQUAL Texas has launched a petition calling on Perry to exclude the AFA and other anti-gay hate groups from the Day of Prayer. Sign the petition by going here.

“Having the AFA host this event only tells LGBT persons of faith that they are not welcome at this event which is in direct conflict of our Governor’s duty to represent all Texans,” GetEQUAL Texas states. “By signing this petition, we are demanding that Governor Rick Perry do his duty by excluding the AFA and any other hate group from this event as these groups go against the very fiber of the American spirit and Texas values.”

TWO’s full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Gov. Perry’s Day of Prayer linked to Uganda bill calling for execution of gays

(From “Protest of Rick Perry’s Prayer Event” on Facebook.)

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. The Human Rights Campaign is calling on members to write letters to their governors asking them to decline Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s invitation to a Day of Prayer at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Aug. 6. The Day of Prayer, dubbed “The Response,” is being bankrolled by the American Family Association, designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition, HRC notes that David Lane, who’s listed as fundraising director for the Response, played a major role in last year’s recall of three Iowa state Supreme Court justices who ruled in favor of major equality. HRC also says the Day of Prayer involves leaders associated with the International House of Prayer and Lou Engle’s TheCall, which “played an active role in supporting anti-gay sentiment in Uganda, where legislation under potential consideration would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death in some circumstances.” HRC’s full press release from Wednesday afternoon is after the jump. To take action, go here.

2. Also issuing a statement Wednesday about Gov. Perry’s Day of Prayer was Michael Mitchell, executive director of National Stonewall Democrats: “If there is a worse partner than the American Family Association for Texas Governor Rick Perry’s day of prayer event, I certainly can’t think of one,” Mitchell said. “As a certified hate group hell-bent on rolling back every bit of progress lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have made, this is certainly not going to be an uplifting event for LGBT Texans, especially those of faith. Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations seem to be getting the best of him. Rather than organize an event worthy of all Texans, he has chosen to ally himself with the deep pockets of the AFA. Let’s hope the 49 other governors he has invited turn down their invitations. We would urge all Texans who care about the rights of LGBT people to steer clear of this event.”

3. Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, acknowledged in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that one of the purposes of the Response is to pray for an end to the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in American society:

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, rejected the label of “hate group” and characterized his organization’s position on homosexuality as representative “of a lot of people who have traditional values.”

“They want somebody to speak for them,” he said. “We try to do that. We are reaching the Christian community with the truth about what is going on in our country.”

He acknowledged that a stated purpose of the August prayer event initiated by Perry – to pray for an end to the “debasement of our culture” – refers to the increasing acceptance of homosexuality by American society.

—  John Wright

Time to raise hell over Perry’s decision to partner with anti-gay hate group for ‘day of prayer’

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Dungeon Diary

So if our governor participated in a Ku Klux Klan rally most Texans, (I said “most”) would be outraged. A call for his resignation would ring so loudly the state Capital dome would shatter. Why? Well the KKK is a hate group plain and simple.

So where is the outrage that our governor plans to participate in a “day of prayer” with another recognized hate group, the AFA? The American Family Group has long been a bastion of anti-LGBT rhetoric and is now recognized for what it is, a “hate group” by the SPLC. This is the same organization who tracks other hate groups like the skinheads and KKK throughout the nation. The AFA and its activities fall well within the definition of a hate group and as such our governor should have nothing to do with them. Instead Rick Perry is touting his participation in a “day of prayer and fasting”.

I sincerely believe we need to be vocal in disapproving this outrageous action by our state’s governor. The AFA has a history of defaming LGBT Americans as well as Jews, Muslims and other minorities. Start writing those letters!

—  admin