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Texas Gov. Perry's public day of prayer draws fire from clergy and atheists

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The governor’s actions violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, the group says, because it “gives the appearance that the government prefers evangelical Christian religious beliefs over other religious beliefs and non-beliefs,” says a press release from FFRF.

American politicians historically called for prayer days for the nation without much controversy, but in more recent decades, “rather than uniting, many critics see them as highly politicized and highly partisan,” says Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. Conflicting court decisions are on the books, she notes. “We’re still hashing these things out ... and this kind of case brings all this to the fore and forces us to define more carefully what ‘establishment’ means and what ‘religion’ means.”

The lawsuit also raises concerns that the governor has been working with the American Family Association (AFA), which “promotes a rabid evangelical Christian agenda,” the FFRF statement says.

Another group calls the event a diversion from problems the governor should be focused on solving.

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