Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy called on Texas Governor Rick Perry to refrain from using his public office for sectarian purposes. The statement came in response to the Perry’s call for governors around the country to join him in prayer and fasting this summer as part of an event called “The Response.” The statement follows:
Governor Perry’s call for governors around the country to join him in prayer and fasting this August raises serious concerns about his commitment to the boundaries between religion and government. It has been my experience that when elected leaders invoke religion in this way, it almost always has more to do with furthering a political agenda than a religious one.
Faith has played an important role in the life of our nation in terms of creating an atmosphere for positive change. Almost without exception, those opportunities have come from religious leaders who felt no need to create entanglements between their mission and the government.
Governor Perry has every right to pray or fast in private or with others. However, when he uses his public office in any way to promote a sectarian event, he has crossed a line that the framers of our Constitution did not want crossed for the good of both religion and government. I hope Governor Perry knows that religion is even better served when a government official like him responsibly addresses the pressing issues faced by the people of his state rather using his government office to call people to a prayer meeting. The sound that is needed is not a loud one that reverberates in heaven, as the governor suggests, but one that covers the earth as people in need sigh with relief when their burdens are lightened and their needs are met.
At the very least, I would hope that Governor Perry publicly confirms that no government funds or resources are now or will be in the future used to further this spiritual rally.
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.