Texas Governor Rick Perry has proclaimed a day of prayer scheduled for August 6, 2011. The prayer rally will be held in Houston's Reliant Stadium with a capacity of 71,000. According to Perry's proclamation,
Given the trials that have beset our country and world – from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and wars that endanger our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and theaters of conflict around the globe, and the decline of our culture in the context of the demise of families – it seems imperative that the people of our nation should once again join together for a solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation.
In times of trouble, even those who have been granted power by the people must turn to God in humility for wisdom, mercy and direction. In the spirit of the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, Verses 15-16, I urge a solemn gathering of prayer and fasting. As those verses admonish: "15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly… 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly…" As Jesus prayed publicly for the benefit of others in John 11:41-42, so should we express our faith in this way.
Perry has asked the governors of the other 49 states to participate in his explicitly Christian prayer event.
Separation of Church and State Issues.
Perry makes numerous references to biblical text in his proclamation and on The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis website. Responding to Perry's use of public office to promote his religious agenda, Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United For Separation of Church and State wrote the governor, saying:
To be blunt, you have overstepped your constitutional bounds. I am a Christian minister and would like to remind you that it is not the job of government officials to call people to pray, recommend that they fast or prod them to take part in other religious activities. That job belongs to me and my fellow clergy. We are capable of doing it without government ‘help’ or interference. We are offended when you attempt to usurp our role.
The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country’s real-world problems,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, the national lobby for secular and nontheistic Americans. “Our nation’s governors represent Americans of all beliefs, not simply Christians. We urge all elected officials to reject Governor Perry’s invitation to attend this explicitly Christian platform for theocratic grandstanding that does nothing to offer substantive solutions to our country’s problems. By its own description, this event privileges Christianity over other religions and beliefs.[…]
“Calling upon all Americans to embrace Perry’s personal belief system is an insult to the millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity, as well as the millions of secular Americans who contribute to society without pushing their views on others,” Faircloth said. “Religion should be a private matter, especially for elected officials in a secular government. Rather than lament that our nation’s challenges are insurmountable and ask that all Americans turn to an evangelical version of Christianity for solutions, our governors should instead focus on finding real-world solutions to real-world problems.”
Campaign by Extreme 'Imprecatory Prayer Warrior' Gordon James Klingenschmitt.
Via the Conservative Action Alerts newsletter, Gordon James Klingenschmitt urged religious conservatives to counter the Secular Coalition For America's campaign by sending faxes to governors demanding that they participate in Texas Governor Perry's "Response" prayer event, characterizing it as "an attack on our Religious Freedoms." Klingenschmitt is an extremist member of the Christian right who regularly engages in "imprecatory prayer" (see below).
Through his ministry, The Pray in Jesus Name Project, Klingenschmitt urges his followers to spend $20 to $179 to have his organization fax all 50 governors, with options to fax all members of Congress as well.
Klingenschmitt was charged with disobeying an order and kicked out of the Navy for attending a political rally in front of the White House in March 2006 dressed in his Navy uniform, a violation of military regulations.
He is also the defendant in a lawsuit brought by Mikey Weinstein, a former military attorney who worked in the Reagan White House and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, over imprecatory prayer. Imprecatory prayers are forms of biblical curses for death and harm to persons who are perceived to be ungodly enemies. These prayers may have incited those participating in the prayers to act out. Klingenschmitt and the late Jim Ammerman, the founder of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, allegedly had their followers engage in imprecatory prayer against Weinstein and Americans United's Rev. Lynn.
In October 2009, it was reported by the Dallas Morning News that:
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said he wants Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, to "stop asking Jesus to plunder my fields … seize my assets, kill me and my family then wipe away our descendants for 10 generations."
The suit also asks the court to stop the defendants – Klingenschmitt and Jim Ammerman, the founder of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches – from "encouraging, soliciting, directing, abetting or attempting to induce others to engage in similar conduct."
Weinstein, 54, said his family has received death threats, had a swastika emblazoned on their home in New Mexico, animal carcasses left on their doorstep and feces thrown at the house.
Weinstein, who is Jewish, said the harassment started several years ago when he began protesting Christian proselytizing at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy. Weinstein started his foundation shortly after that to battle the influence of extremist evangelical Christians in the armed forces.
Klingenschmitt attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, but per a ruling by the Court of Appeals for the 5th District of Texas at Dallas, the case is moving forward again.
Klingenschmitt was a leader in Janet Porter's "May Day" prayer rally last year that caused her to lose her radio networks due to the Christian dominionist nature of the rally. He recently joined up with Porter again to "Stand for Israel."
The former Navy Chaplain told Dave Pakman earlier this year that exorcisms are an effective method of treatment for homosexuality.