The Texas Freedom Network just sent out the following press release.
THOUSANDS SEND MESSAGE TO GOV. PERRY: STOP USING FAITH AS A POLITICAL WEAPON TO DIVIDE AMERICANS
More Than 10,000 Sign Open Letter Calling on Governor to Respect All Faiths and End His Office’s Association with a Hate Group
The Texas Freedom Network today sent Gov. Rick Perry an open letter signed by more than 10,000 Texans and others who are concerned that the governor’s prayer rally in Houston this weekend is more about promoting his political career than faith.
“Gov. Perry leads a diverse state in which not everyone shares the same religious and political beliefs,” TFN President Kathy Miller said. “It’s simply wrong that he would share a stage with extremists who use faith as a political weapon to divide Americans instead of working to unite us in support of our nation.”
The governor asked the American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a hate group, to organize The Response at Reliant Stadium on Saturday. Other organizers and endorsers have a history of using incendiary anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Some have called Oprah Winfrey a precursor to the Antichrist and the Statue of Liberty a “demonic idol.” Another endorser, former congressional candidate Stephen Broden of Dallas, last year suggested that violent revolution might be justified if the 2010 elections didn’t bring the changes he wanted.
The open letter calls on Gov. Perry to make the Houston event “open to speakers and attendees of all faiths, as well as welcoming to people of good will who are not affiliated with a faith tradition.” It also urges him to respect the diverse beliefs of all Texans by ending the association between his office and the American Family Association.
The open letter and signatures are available here. As of 9 a.m. today, the letter included 10,410 signatures.
Gov. Perry has a long history of using faith as a political tool. The year before his 2006 re-election campaign, for example, he and his supporters in the Texas Restoration Project hosted thousands of conservative evangelical pastors and their spouses at “briefings” that promoted the governor and his policies. Lodging and food for attendees were covered by Perry campaign donors whose identities were not made public at the time. Speculation is growing that Gov. Perry will run for the Republican presidential nomination next year.