Sure, Gov. Rick Perry’s key advisers may be laying the groundwork in Iowa for his increasingly likely presidential campaign and leading Religious Right activists might be privately rallying behind that possible campaign … but just because he is also organizing a massive public prayer rally with dozens of Religious Right activists doesn’t mean that his “The Response” event is in any way a political event:
American Family Association sponsors the Response, a national prayer event planned for Reliant Stadium in Houston on August 6. Donald E. Wildmon, founder and Chairman Emeritus of AFA, said those who oppose the event are wrong.
“The Response is an open event. Anyone who wants to pray to Jesus for a nation in crisis is welcome to attend. Next, The Response is a prayer event, not a political event,” Wildmon says. “No political candidates will be speaking. Finally our critics say The Response violates the separation of church and state. The event will be held at a public stadium which has no connection to a religious body.”
Doug Stringer, founder of Somebody Cares America and president of Turning Point Ministries International, is serving as the National Church and Ministry Mobilization Coordinator for The Response. When he was asked to serve, he admits he was initially reluctant to join forces with Perry. But after discussing the event with other leaders was satisfied that there was no political agenda.
“I didn’t want to officially be a part of The Response if there was any inkling that this would be anything political or that preaching pontificators would use this as an agenda for their individual denominations or political aspirations,” Stringer says. “But the governor said it’s going to stay pure. You can’t buy your way or influence your way to the platform.”
So does that mean that Gov. Perry, the man who is responsible for the entire event and is serving as its public face, will be not be speaking at the event? Or does it mean that he will speak because he is not going to be a political candidate running for office?
Or, more likely, does it merely mean that Perry is going to remain coy about his plans until after the prayer event and then use it as a launching pad for his presidential campaign?