Separation of church and city
Rick Perry knows how to party: National Day of Prayer at Houston City Hall
For some, today represents a hungover Seis de Mayo, but for the not-so-lost souls, it's National Day of Prayer. Hundreds of devout individuals gathered this afternoon on the steps of City Hall for a two-hour long ceremony of prayer, song and remarks by Governor Rick Perry.
"Do we have any prayin' people with us today?" Rick Perry announced to the crowd at the beginning of his speech. He reflected on the urgency to pray for the existence of National Day of Prayer before moving to another timely topic: "Everyday we see the frailty of things made with man's hands, we are reminded of our own hands, clasped in prayer," he said, "You know what I'm talking about."
Referring to a section of Matthew Chapter 12, Perry added, "Those things that man built all too often end up in a wet sandy heap." Earlier this week, Perry spoke at a conference sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which he explained the oil rig explosion that caused an ever-expanding oil spill may have been "just an act of God."
The National Day of Prayer falls on the first Thursday of May and has been celebrated as a civic ritual since 1952. The day has received special attention this year due to an April 15 challenge of the event's constitutionality by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin.
President Obama is appealing the decision, accompanied by a national proclamation declaring the nation come together in prayer today.
The program enlisted 14 pastors from around the city, representing Houston's diversity with delegates from such outlets as Vietnamese Baptist Church and Iglesia Rios de Aceita. City Council member Mike Sullivan also spoke regarding the recent politics surrounding the day, promising, "Lord, please have me handcuffed if the law tries to prevent each city council meeting from beginning with prayer."
Mayor Annise Parker was at a speaking engagement with the Houston Airport System during the event.
Despite the wide range of ethnicities, the event was exclusively a Christian one, proving that in Houston, the Christian hegemony is alive and well. In his address, First Baptist Church Pastor Gregg Matte summoned the audience to pray that the President select a future Supreme Court Justice who will "rectify" the current status of abortion law.
Across the nation, such events as today's service at City Hall are organized by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, led by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Such a highly organized religious event, being heavily endorsed by Obama, brings to question issues of Christianity as a state religion, as well as the separation of church and state.
For those who would rather celebrate Jesus from the comfort of their couch, Comedy Central will soon be airing a cartoon based on the popular deity.
But Jesus wasn't the only topic on one guest's mind. As Perry addressed the crowd, a tweet went up on his account, "Announcing UPS conversion to Hybrid Electric Vehicle. Helping make TX air cleaner!" accompanied by a photo of him addressing an audience at a UPS office in Stafford earlier this morning.
Indeed, between renouncing Arizona, threatening to secede and slaying coyotes, the governor is one busy cowboy. Tuesday, Perry joined country music Grammy Award winner Clay Walker at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast in Austin.
Watch the crooner profess his love for the Gov: