Court rules on behalf of Texas prayer rally at Reliant Stadium
A Houston federal court judge dismissed recently a lawsuit that was filed by a group of agnostics and atheists, which sought to prevent Gov. Rick Perry from sponsoring a prayer rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.
Houston Judge Gray Miller dismissed the suit because he said the complainants lacked legal standing to object to Perry’s role in the event, and failed to sufficiently prove that they would suffer injury if the prayer meeting pushes through.
In his decision, Miller noted that the complainants could simply decide not to attend the prayer rally if they felt bothered by it or feared that it would cause them harm.
The lawsuit was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who in their complaint expressed feelings of exclusion, and for this reason, sought an injunction.
Miller said in his decision, “The governor has done nothing more than invite others who are willing to do so to pray,” according to the AP.
The prayer rally is scheduled for August 6, which Perry declared to be “a day of prayer and fasting for our nation,” the WSJ said. The governor said the proclamation falls within his free-speech rights. “States often issue proclamations recognizing that citizens may choose to commemorate particular events through prayer.”
The FFRF said it may appeal. Kay Staley, one of the residents of Texas who is among the plaintiffs told the AP, “I think the governor needs to keep his religion out of his official duties.” She said she will attend the prayer event to protest.
Perry, an evangelical Christian, compared his role in the event to President Barack Obama’s participation in the National Day of Prayer. He told the AP, “My prayer is that the courts will find that the First Amendment is still applicable to the governor no matter what they might be doing, and that what we’ve done in the state of Texas, or what we’ve done in the governor’s office is appropriate. It’s no different than what George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or President Truman or President Obama have done.”
The FFRF also filed a case to prevent Obama’s participation in the National Day of Prayer, an event for people of all faiths, earlier this year. However, last April an appellate court dismissed the lawsuit saying that the FFRF failed to provide proof that the president’s proclamation of the event had caused them harm.