Rick Perry Faces Federal Lawsuit Over Day of Prayer

Jul 13, 2011 7:06pm

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz and Gina Sunseri report:

Texas Governor Rick Perry is facing a federal lawsuit as a state/church watchdog group consisting of atheists and agnostics attempts to block his involvement in the Day of Prayer and Fasting organized for Aug 6.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a watchdog group consisting of 16,600 members, filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District Court of Texas to keep the religious event from occurring, arguing it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The legal complaint says the plaintiffs are “nonbelievers who support the free exercise of religion, but strongly oppose the governmental establishment and endorsement of religion, including prayer and fasting, which are not only an ineffectual use of time and government resources, but which can be harmful or counterproductive as a substitute for reasoned action.”

Perry released a video for the event, officially called “The Response,” earlier this week, calling on Americans to “make plans to be part of something even bigger than Texas.”

“Gov. Perry is looking forward to the Aug. 6th prayer event. He believes it will serve as an important opportunity for Americans to gather together and pray to God, seeking his wisdom and guidance as our nation navigates the challenges before it,” Catherine Frazier, deputy press secretary for Perry, told ABC News.

"We expected this kind of legal harassment, but the right of Americans to assemble and pray has been established for over 200 years. We are confident we will be victorious,” Eric Bearse, spokesman for The Response, told ABC News.

Perry has invited President Obama, the nation’s governors and religious leaders to join in the event at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on Aug. 6.  More than 6,000 participants have registered thus far.

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