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?
Well, we could follow the medieval Christian missionary model: "Join us or Die," but I prefer the modern Christian ideal, which is to merely set a good example in word and deed, and be vocal about our beliefs.
So tempting to hire a crop dusting plane and do leaflet drops.... "think before you pray, god is not real, sorry but he's not"
Freedom of religion means that they can go into their church to pray and that they won't be executed or punished simply for believing what they do. That's all it was ever meant to be. It's not a license to do whatever they want and trample down on all other rights.
If Perry had attended as a private person, that would have been one thing. But he created the whole thing in his position as a government official, endorsed it as a government official and prayed for political improvements. And most importantly it was only a lame show to help his political ambitions. All of those are no-nos.
Since the mid 20th century, the Establishment Clause has also been interpreted to go beyond literally creating laws, but also to favor one religion or over an another and even to promote religion in general. That rally specifically excluded various Christian sects, not to mention non-Christian religions in general.
I agree, it should not have been a government sponsored event. If he wanted to attend a prayer event on his own time, then by all means do, they could even say "we have a special guest in the audience..." But to use his publicly appointed position to promote a religious agenda with State funds... major constitutional violation, don’t care what religious (or non-religious) stance they may support, separation of church and state is there for a reason, can’t be a free nation without it.
Ironically, there are countries with official state religions in Europe that are a lot more free, egalitarian and secular than the US.
That is interesting, but I would still rather live in a place that doesnt have one.
Antarctica? It has no religion. China? Hostile to religion.
As long as you want to live with people and in a place which is free, you will be living with religion.
Did you even watch anything he said? His whole speech was entirely political. He certainly didn't attend as a private person. He attended as governor and a wannabe presidential candidate, and the whole thing came off as state-approved, no matter how it was financed (so easy to use that as a front, given that those groups invest millions in lobbying anyways). He even used government-letterheads and websites to advertise for it. He asked all other governors to attend as well.
There was indeed money used but the ACLU is still awaiting clarification on how much. They filed a request and were buried in 700 pages of whatthe ACLU director called pages of nothing on August 3rd with no definitive answer on the dollars spent.
The governors office says that public funding was negligible.
Negligible is not NOTHING.
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.
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.