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Responding to The Response

I almost forgot that Rick Perry’s Prayerpalooza, also known as The Response, is this weekend. Fortunately, some other folks are more on the ball than I am about this.

On Tuesday, more than 50 Houston-area religious and community leaders disseminated a signed statement drafted by the Anti-Defamation League expressing “deep concern” about a prayer rally “not open to all faiths,” while the Houston GLBT Political Caucus and related organizations announced a Friday rally at Tranquility Park to protest the event. The groups that represent gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals accused the American Family Association and other sponsors of the prayer event of hatred toward the GLBT community.

The ADL statement followed a June letter from the Houston Clergy Council that criticized the governor for excluding non-Christians, partnering with an anti-gay group and blurring boundaries between church and state.

“Governor Perry has a constitutional duty to treat all Texans equally, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity,” the ADL statement reads. “His official involvement with The Response, at minimum, violates the spirit of that duty.”

You can see the letter and all of the signatories here. If you agree with the spirit of that letter, then this is the event for you.

In a celebration of diversity, inclusion, and unity, the ACLU of Texas and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) welcome the Rev. William Lawson and the Rev. Barry Lynn as these two leaders join us for an evening call to action for the public good, while recognizing the vital importance of upholding the separation of church and state.

The event called “Family, Faith and Freedom” will be held Friday evening August 5 and will be open to the public. Details on the venue and time are forthcoming.

Additional speakers will include a wide range of religious and non-religious leaders from the Houston community. It will take place the evening before “The Response,” a Christian event to be held at Reliant Stadium. The ACLU of Texas has requested that Gov. Rick Perry and other public officials disclose the amount of taxpayer dollars and other state or local government resources used to promote the prayer event, “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis,” set for August 6.

“Gov. Perry’s decision to sponsor a ‘Christians-only’ prayer rally is bad enough. That he turned to an array of intolerant religious extremists to put it on for him is even worse,” said Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “This event unites us in our conviction that government should have no favorite theology and that it must always strive to ensure that all citizens – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and others – are full and equal partners in the public square.”

“Americans of many faiths, and of no faiths, love their country and want to see it prosper,” said Terri Burke, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas. “Government promotion of an exclusive Christian event implies that our government views certain types of people as more caring about the well-being of our country than others, and also implies that our government views Christianity as the only way to approach the challenges that our society faces. We don’t see it that way, and thought somebody ought to host an event that welcomes all faiths and traditions.”

Here’s information about the venue and time of the event:

What: Family, Faith and Freedom event
Where: Mount Ararat Baptist Church, 5801 W Montgomery Rd., Houston, TX 77091
When: Friday, Aug. 5, 7 to 9 p.m.

Here’s the church’s website, and here’s a map to its location. A list of speakers is here. If you can’t make it to that one, here’s an alternative:

LGBT Texans and allies from around Texas and other states will gather at Tranquility Park Friday evening at 7:00 pm to rally against hatred against the LGBT community. The rally was organized largely in response to the American Family Association’s (AFA) hosting of a prayer event at Reliant Arena the following day. AFA is recognized as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Another recognized hate group, Westboro Baptist Church, will also be in Houston to protest various events in the City.

“The primary existence of AFA is to demonize GLBT Americans and oppose equality.” said Houston GLBT Political Caucus president Noel Freeman. “This is a group that refers to us as Nazis, claims the Holocaust was caused by the GLBT community, and supports the eradication of people living with HIV. There is no place in Houston, in Texas or in our great nation for hate.”

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus will be joined by other organizations, including the GLBT Community Center, Equality Texas, Houston Stonewall Young Democrats, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Human Rights Campaign, Healing Out Loud, and Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church. State Representative Garnet Coleman will keynote a program that will feature anti-hate messages from political, religious and family groups.

“All members of the community and our allies are welcome to join us in rejecting hate from Houston.” Freeman said. “Together we can show hate groups that we will never give up on our mission of making this world a safe, caring, respectful place for everyone, and that masking hate with religion is never acceptable.”

Here’s the statement the Caucus put out in June about The Response and the more despicable characters that will be participating in it. You can’t go wrong by attending either of these protests. And note one more thing, from the Chron story:

Reliant Park officials have said they planned a “small arena configuration” the would accommodate about 10,000 people.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were more people at the counter-events than at the main event? You can help make that happen. PDiddie, Harold, Forrest Wilder, Equality Texas, Hair Balls, and the Trib have more.

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