Quit Christian prayer rally, religious leaders urge Texas governor

NEW YORK (JTA) — Sixteen rabbis are among the more than 50 Houston religious leaders who signed a letter asking Texas Gov. Rick Perry to reconsider participating in a Christian prayer rally.

Rick Perry, a potential Republican presidential candidate, plans to host "The Response" on Aug. 6 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium. In a commercial featured on the rally’s website, Perry "calls on Americans to pray and fast like Jesus did, and the Israelites did in the book of Job," as a solution to the "economy in trouble, communities in crisis, and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism."

The Response is sponsored by the American Family Association, a Conservative Christian advocacy nonprofit founded in 1977 as the National Federation for Decency. The rally follows the association’s statement of faith, which includes that the Christian Bible is "the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God."

In the letter, the leaders criticize Perry for calling for "a full day of exclusionary prayer. … This religious event is not open to all faiths, and its statement of beliefs does not represent religious diversity."

The rabbis who signed are members of the Anti-Defamation League’s Coalition of Mutual Respect, a group of U.S. interfaith leaders who promote education and respect among religions and ethnicities.

"By his actions," the letter says, "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."

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