Updated 07/18/2011 11:51 AM
Atheists speak out against Perry prayer event
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Gov. Rick Perry plans to lead the nation in a day of prayer and fasting next month during an event dubbed The Response.
However, atheist groups in Texas and nationwide say the governor should work harder on fixing the ills of the state instead of wasting his time on prayer.
Joe Zamecki doesn't believe in a god. Nor does he believe Gov. Rick Perry should be spreading the gospel in the name of government.
"I don't care if he is Christian or Baptist or Mormon or Lutheran. I don't care," Zamecki said."Those things do not matter and shouldn't matter and shouldn't be a part of his job."
Zamecki is the state director of American Atheists Incorporated. The national group was founded by the late Madelyn Murray O'Hair, who successfully ended prayer in school in a landmark 1963 Supreme Court case.
Now, the group has another fight on their hands—Gov. Perry’s effort to lead a seven-hour prayer event at Reliant Stadium in Houston Aug. 6. The governor has invited other state leaders and even the President to join him.
"The Texas government right now is having such problems that if our governor can't solve them or even address them or own up to his responsibility with them, I don't think a prayer is going to help," Zamecki said.
Gov. Perry, who has still remained ambiguous about a 2012 presidential run, says Texas’ needs may be beyond the boundaries of government.
"As an elected leader I'm all too aware of government’s limitations when it comes to fixing things that are spiritual in nature, and that's where prayer comes in, and we need it more than ever," he said.
On the website for The Response, Gov. Perry states, "as a nation, we must come together, call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles."
Zamecki says doing the work of the people should be done inside the State Capitol, not behind a pulpit.
"We don't need to gather for prayer to establish government issues, government protocol or to convince our governor to do his job," he said.
According to Perry, The Response will move forward as protestors plan their opposition to denounce what they say is a violation of church and state.
Zamecki’s group and others plan to demonstrate during the event.
The American Atheists also tell YNN the event's co-sponsor, The American Family Association, is considered a hate group by their members.
The AFA openly denounces same-sex marriage and gay rights.
Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is made up of atheists and agnostics, is suing over the event saying it violates the constitutional ban on the government establishing a religion.