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Clergy and Community Leaders Express Concerns over Governor's Official Call for Prayer

Date: August 2, 2011

More than 50 Houston-area clergy and community leaders say they are troubled by Govenor Rick Perry's official use of his office to call for Americans to participate in The Response, a day of prayer and fasting and a prayer rally at Houston's Reliant Stadium August 6.  On August 2, they released the statement below, followed by their signatures: 

One of Houston's greatest strengths is its religious diversity.  As part of the Anti-Defamation League's Coalition for Mutual Respect, we are keenly sensitive to the fact that Houstonians may pray differently or not pray at all.  We cherish the fact that we can pray freely in our own way, because our founding fathers wisely envisioned and provided for a nation grounded in the principle of separation of church and state.  This freedom from government imposed religion allows all religions to flourish in our democratic society.  It is with this thought in mind that we express our concern that Governor Rick Perry has called for a full day of exclusionary prayer on August 6, 2011.  This religious event is not open to all faiths, as its statement of beliefs does not represent religious diversity.

Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. His official involvement with the Response at minimum violates the spirit of that duty.  By his actions, 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.  We urge our elected leaders, who have the privilege of representing us, to practice their own religion as they choose without seeking to impose their beliefs on others or using their official offices to divide citizens along religious lines.  They should be role models for all Americans, and can be by honoring and respecting our constitutional freedoms.

            Rabbi Annie Belford
            The Rev. Dr. Guinn Blackwell-Eagleson, United Campus Ministry
            Ghulam Bombaywala
            Michael Y. Chou
            Robert Coberly
            Rev. Mike Cole
            Dr. William J. Cork, Pastor, Seventh-Day Adventist Church
            Rev. Dr. James S. Currie, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Pasadena 
            Rev. Helen P. DeLeon, Pastor in the Presbytery of New Covenant
            Rev. Michael Diaz,Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church
            Rabbi Gideon Estes, Congregation Or Ami 
            Rev. Dr. Nora Fitch
            The Rev. Martha Frances, Retired Episcopal Priest 
            Rev. Bradley Fuerst, Houston Lutheran Campus Minister
            Rabbi Dan Gordon
            Rev. Lura N. Groen, Pastor, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church
            Rabbi Steve Gross
            Rabbi Daniel Horwitz, J.B. Greenfield Chapel of Congregation Beth Yeshurun
            The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
            Shaikh Omar Inshanally, Head Clergy, Islamic Society of Greater Houston
            Rev. Wayne Ivey, Taylor Lake Christian Church
            Dr. Sulekh C. Jain, Past President, Jain Society of Houston
            Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Beth Israel
            Dr. Basheer Khumawala, Islamic Society of Greater Houston   
            Rev. Kristen Klein-Cechettini,Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church         
            Dr. Stephen L. Klineberg, Rice University 
            Rev. Janice Ladd,Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church
            Rev. William A. Lawson, Pastor Emeritus, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church
            Rev. Karin Liebster, Associate Pastor, Christ the King Lutheran Church
            Rabbi David Lyon, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Beth Israel
            Rabbi Mark J. Miller, President, Houston Rabbinical Association
            Rabbi Steven Morgen
            Rev. Dr. Robert G. Moore, Senior Pastor, Christ the King Lutheran Church
            Rev. Dr. Laurey H. Murphy
            R. Marcus Otterstad, Senior Pastor, House of Prayer Lutheran Church
            Rev. John Howard Reed 
            Bishop Michael Rinehart, TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod, ELCA 
            Regina Rogers
            The Rev. David A. Roschke, Senior Pastor, Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church,
            Rabbi David Rosen
            Rev. Samuel Schaal, Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
            Rabbi Deborah Schloss
            Rabbi Jack Segal
            Dr. Aziz Siddiqi, President, Islamic Society of Greater Houston
            J. Michael Solar
            F. Herb Stallknecht, Retired United Methodist Pastor
            Rabbi Seth Stander
            Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stein, Pastor, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
            Rabbi Joshua S. Taub, D.D.
            Pastor Ernie Turney, Senior Pastor, Bering Memorial United Methodist Church
            Rabbi Roy Walter, Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Emanu El
            Pastor John Willmann
            The Reverend Belinda C. Windham, D.Min. Pastor, New Hope Presbyterian Church
            Dr. Susan McPhail Wittjen, Former Moderator, New Covenant Presbytery
            Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu El
            Rev. Rich Wolf, New Hope Lutheran Church
            Rosie Zamora



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