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Religious leaders protest Perry's Houston prayer gathering

By Houston Chronicle
Aug. 2, 2011 at 10 p.m.


HOUSTON - Three days before The Response, the Houston prayer event Gov. Rick Perry initiated two months ago, the response has been spirited among those objecting to the governor's participation.

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 people 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."

Signatories include Rabbi Samuel E. Karff, rabbi emeritus of congregation Beth Israel; Shaikh Omar Inshanally, head clergy of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston; the Rev. Lisa Hunt, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church; and Rev. William A. Lawson, pastor emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church.

"We strongly believe this statement, signed by so many of our most respected religious and community leaders, reflects the feelings of many Texans who are concerned that Governor Perry is overstepping his bounds in supporting an exclusionary sectarian religious event," Martin B. Cominsky of ADL said in a press release.

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