The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) is suing Texas governor Rick Perry, and asking courts to keep Perry from attending a prayer event in Houston next month.
Perry has publicly advocated for this event and encouraged people to participate in the event dedicated to prayer and fasting. FFRF argues that the head of a state participating in this event violates the First Amendment clause forbidding an established religion.
In regards to the lawsuit, the FFRF states:
“Perry’s actions as governor give “official recognition” to a devotional event, endorse religion, have no secular rationale, and seek to encourage citizens to pray and non Christians to convert to Christianity.
These actions violate the Establishment Clause by “giving the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs and non-beliefs, including by aligning and partnering with the American Family Association, a virulent, discriminatory and evangelical Christian organization known for its intolerance.”
I think that FFRF is proverbially grabbing at straws. Yes, Perry is in the government, but he is also a person who has a right to have his own beliefs. The First Amendment does say congress cannot establish a religion, but it also says congress cannot limit an individual’s free speech or right to peaceably assemble.
While the constitution does not allow an establishes religion, the following clause says that they also may not prohibit the free exercise thereof.
Saying a person who happens to be in politics doesn’t have a right to participate in religious activities because of the First Amendment is a contradiction to other rights granted in the same sentence within the First Amendment.
I doubt the FFRF seriously plans on winning the suit. I would assume that this is more about principle and gaining attention, however I believe these tactics could backfire.
It’s interesting to me that this organization considers its members free thinkers but they are trying to have someone forced into not participating in something in accordance with his own values. That is simply tyrannical.
I have several friends who are irreligious, and for the ones value liberty, I think they would agree that Perry should have the right to participate and personally endorse this event.