Responding To ‘The Response’: AU And Allies Offer Alternative To Perry Prayer Rally

I’m happy to report that I have survived the weekend in Houston and “The Response.”

I’m happy to report that I have survived the weekend in Houston and “The Response.”

In case you missed it, “The Response” was a fundamentalist Christian rally put on last Saturday at Houston’s Reliant Stadium by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and the ultra-right-wing American Family Association. Americans United has been speaking out against this excessive government entanglement with religion for over a month now.

Late last week, I headed down to the Lone Star State with Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn, where he gave a delightful speech to a crowd of more than 300 people about why Gov. Perry was out of line. (Watch Lynn’s speech below.)

Lynn’s address kicked off the “Family, Faith & Freedom Celebration,” which was put on by Americans United, the Houston AU chapter and the Texas ACLU to send a message to Perry that government officials shouldn’t be sponsoring an exclusionary prayer-fest.

At our celebration, we heard from a Humanist leader, a Hindu, an imam, a Baptist minister, a rabbi, a Unitarian pastor and, of course, my boss, Barry Lynn. (Special thanks to Dr. Michael E. Rutledge, whose Mt. Ararat Baptist Church hosted the event. You can see my live tweets from the celebration here.)

Our message was sent out all across the nation through the news media and online resources. Lynn appeared on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O'Donnell and “Hardball with Chris Mathews,” CNN’s “The Situation Room,” CBN News, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS and NPR’s “Weekend Edition.”

He also had comments in The Washington Post (Twice! Here and here.), the Associated Press, Bloomberg News , Reuters, the Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times, the Austin-American Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the American Independent, and others.

Our message was also publicized on local TV stations, including the Fox affiliate, Austin’s Your News Now and other local affiliates.

I think it’s safe to say Perry, through some channel or another, heard our message. Whether he cares about what we have to say is a different story. We think he should, because there are plenty of Americans, including many Christians, who are appalled by the governor’s actions.

As the Rev. William Lawson said in his speech at the Family, Faith & Freedom Celebration, Perry should be thinking “he’s hit a foul ball.”

I must say, it was a wonderful to see people come together to share in America’s religious diversity and stand up for church-state separation. At least Perry’s shenanigans gave us a chance to share our message with the rest of the country.

I’ll bet Perry didn’t see THAT coming.

Check out some of the news coverage and Barry’s speech, below. You won’t be disappointed.