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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Consider this part of the First Amendment in connection with the following New York Times headline and lead: “Texas Governor Draws Criticism on Prayer Event.”

“AUSTIN, Tex. – When Gov. Rick Perry invited fellow governors to join him on Aug. 6 for ‘a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation,’ some speculated that he was trying to raise his national visibility for a possible presidential run.

“‘Absolutely not,’ said Mr. Perry, a conservative Christian who described the event, to be held in a Houston stadium, as an ‘apolitical Christian prayer service’ to provide ‘spiritual solutions to the many challenges we face in our communities, states and nation.’

“Whatever the goals, his plan has drawn strong protests from advocates for the separation of church and state, who say an elected leader should not be leading what looks to be, in effect, an evangelical Christian revival. Gay rights groups are also objecting because Mr. Perry placed the event in the hands of conservative religious groups that not only oppose gay marriage but also stridently condemn homosexuality.”

This inevitably raises the question as to whether such extremist advocates of separation of church and state would not also object, if, in going to church, Gov. Perry either said the word “amen” to prayers, or if he sang hymns.

Then came the New York Times’ ill-famed support of the deadly disease-spreading sodomy lobby, with the following:

“Gay rights groups are also objecting because Mr. Perry placed the event in the hands of conservative religious groups that not only oppose gay marriage but also stridently condemn homosexuality.”

(That these religious groups also condemn bestiality, polygamy, polyandry, incest, necrophilia and pedophilia is not mentioned by the Times.)

“‘I have followed religion and politics closely for 35 years, and I have never seen a governor initiate and lead this kind of Christians-only prayer rally,’ said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

“In a letter to Mr. Perry, Mr. Lynn called on the governor to cancel the event, which he described as ‘a sectarian gathering that excludes millions of Americans.’”

This Barry Lynn announcement is a suggestion that this Christian rally will exclude non-Christians – a contention which is Mr. Lynn’s latest ridiculous claim.

“Similar concerns were voiced by other Washington groups, including the Secular Coalition for America, which represents atheists, and the Interfaith Alliance, which said Mr. Perry was misusing religion for political purposes.

“Here in Texas, Kim Kamen, an executive with the American Jewish Committee, said the event felt exclusionary. ‘There are many houses of worship here in Texas, not just Christian churches,’ said Mrs. Kamen, who lives in Dallas. ‘As the leader of our state, we hope that he will bear that in mind.’”

Why on earth would the usually astute American Jewish Committee make the incredible suggestion that the governor of Texas is unaware of any houses of worship in Texas other than Christian?

The Times also reported:

“Mr. Perry rejected the accusations of exclusion. ‘It is Christian-centered, yes, but I have invited and welcome people of all faiths to attend,’ he said in an email on Friday.

“David Lane, an evangelical political organizer from California who has gathered national support for the prayer day, said, ‘Nobody’s imposing anything on people of other faiths.’

“The Human Rights Campaign in Washington, a gay rights organization, accused Mr. Perry of ‘aligning with groups that, on a daily basis, seek to demonize’ gay and lesbian people.

“Leaders of the American Family Association and of the International House of Prayer, a co-sponsor of the event, describe homosexuality as a moral blight. The family association, for example, links public acceptance of homosexuality to what it calls the ‘increasing ungodliness and depravity assaulting our nation.’

“Mr. Perry brushed off the assertions against the organization.

“‘The A.F.A. is a group that promotes faith and strong families, and this event is about bringing Americans together in prayer,’ he said in his e-mail, adding that ‘I have made it clear that I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman.’”

That statement will probably ensure the strong opposition to Gov. Perry of many of this nation’s homosexuals, as well as the polygamists, polyandrists and other alternative sexual orientations.

But for the vast majority of American voters who are sexually normal – Perry’s stand raises continued hope that he will run for president.

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