I have several friends on Facebook who are devout Christians and will occasionally post statuses reflecting such. This one was posted not too long ago, copied verbatim:
I am proud of Gov. Perry in Texas standing up for prayer for our American Leadership. A seven hour praying crowd of 30,000! Wonder what this country would be like if all of the State leaders held prayer like that?
I know what's going to be discussed in regards to this, but I can't help but ask what your opinions are. I firmly believe in separation of church and state, but how can that happen when prayer rallies are being held by politicians?
Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said that state involvement was negligible, but included the prayer proclamation itself and invitations to governors and officials. Perry’s security detail will also accompany him to the event.
Stephen: What I read said no taxpayer dollars. I agree with you that every dollar is a breech. I have a tremendous amount of faith in the ACLU to make life hell for a little while if they find that public funding was used for this thing.
The reason this was against the establishment clause is that the stadium is publicly subsidized (to the tune of 650,000 a year) and he used a public position to access media outlets to promote it.
When I first heard the story, I was inclined to agree with you, but I eventually came to the same conclusion as Steve and Stephen above me.
If you search 'prayer' on the official website for the governor's office, you can see quite clearly that he is using his position as governor to promote prayer events.
@ Kris: I agree that this is an issue, he should not be promoting prayer events on anything with an official seal.
I want to make it clear that I'm not a fan of this guy, as I stated in my first post, I'm against pretty much everything that he is for. He likes prayer in school, wants to teach intelligent design, is against same sex marriage etc..I'm also a big fan of the first amendment, so as far as I'm concerned he can think, pray, and say pretty much whatever he likes, as long as he's not using state funding to do it, or writing any of it into law.
"Perry did attend as a private person"
He is an elected official 24/7 and serves the people. He was also on the record. I would also assume that he brought his publicly funded protection service and the event required on-site publicly funded emergency services. In that case public money was spent and it does not fall under the right to assembly per se. As for the freedom of religion, it should not apply to public servants in a secular government as it violates the separation of Church and State.
Being elected to an office does not, and I think, should not trump constitutional protection. They can worship anyone or no one as loudly as they like, as long as they aren't writing their religious views into law.
I don't begrudge these guys their protection detail, there are a lot of crazies out there.
Emergency teams should be on site for any sizable gathering, christian rally, science lecture, or football game. As long as those services are provided at the same cost and quality to all such gatherings, their presence at a prayer rally doesn't bother me in the slightest.
The only issue, I think, are state dollars specifically used to support this event. Stephen contends that state dollars were used, and that would be a clear breech. The use of government letter heads and websites is also a clear breech.
Public servant - private rights is something you give up in favor of confidence of the people. They are supposed to be 100% impartial, working for the public good and their whole constituency. Seems to be an idea somewhat lost in Texas where the village idiot seem to always hold office... ;)
As far as I recall there is only specified a separation of Church and State, not Sport and State or Science and State. Thus no government money is supposed to be spent in or near a Church. As I read it the separation also applies to politics/politicians and Church, your mileage may differ.
I agree that total impartiality is an excellent ideal, but I don't think it is realistic. It would be nice if they sought to represent their whole constituency, they don't, they seek to represent their core base. They don't give up personal rights except where their oaths specifically state that they must, none of those oaths abridge their freedom of religion. Texas does seem to have an affinity for nitwits.
These services wouldn't have been offered near a church, but at a stadium with a gathering of tens of thousands of people. As long as the law providing those services doesn't specify what type of gatherings they ought to be there to support, and they are in fact present for all sizable gatherings, I don't see an issue.
Emergency services are there to prevent loss of life, as long as those same services are equally available to everyone at that stadium at all gatherings then their presence here shouldn't be an issue.
I guess the spirit of the law is broken while the letter of the law is followed. Still seems like a piss poor excuse to me who sees it from the outside...
Which part? Constitutional liberties are necessarily granted for every citizen of the U.S., I don't feel politicians should be forced to cede those rights, except when absolutely necessary for security. That most of our politicians are terrible examples of the human condition is our own damned fault, we elected them.
The emergency services thing is more about sanctity of life than church and state. I think most of us can agree that while we may not like or even respect each others beliefs, we do respect each others right to have them, and to keep having them, and not to suffer irreparable harm while having them.