AUSTIN, Texas Texas Gov. Rick Perry has invited the nation s governors to join him in a prayer day to seek God s guidance to deal with the problems facing America.

The day for prayer and fasting is planned for Aug. 6 in Houston and is sponsored by the American Family Association, a Christian advocacy group. The organization s website says the event is intended to be a non-denominational, apolitical, Christian prayer service.

Perry s invitation comes on the heels of his announcement that he is considering a run for president. He is a strong advocate of the Christian conservative wing of the Republican Party. He has attended numerous Christian events as governor, and was an early adopter of tea party rhetoric.

This invitation, though, has attracted national attention.

Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel, Perry said in a statement.

Titled, The Response, the event is scheduled to take place at Reliant Stadium. On the website dedicated to the event, organizers said America is in the midst of a historic crisis.

We want the presence, power, and person of Christ to fill our nation and turn the hearts of millions to righteousness, peace, and joy in him, the group s website gives as a mission statement. We want to see real change across our nation that only our God can perform.

In his invitation to the other 49 governors, he urged them to also proclaim Aug. 6 a day to pray for unity and righteousness.

We simply want to humbly ask our creator to intervene on behalf of our people and nation, and ask for His blessing and healing power to transform our lives, Perry said in the letter.

Michigan s Gov. Rick Snyder has already said he won t be attending. The Republican governor said his schedule was too busy.

The Secular Coalition for America issued a statement urging governors not to attend the event.

The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country s real-world problems, said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the lobbying organization for secular and nontheistic Americans. We urge all elected officials to reject Governor Perry s invitation to attend this explicitly Christian platform for theocratic grandstanding that does nothing to offer substantive solutions to our country s problems.

Others were already planning protests.

Those people are not going to do anything except preach hate, said Ray Hill, a Houston gay rights activist who s planning to protest the event. And some of my people will die because of that hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the AFA as an anti-gay group, but KHOU 11 News political analyst said the organization might be instrumental if Perry decides to officially jump into the presidential race.

He is probably trying to establish himself with a core Republican constituency, Bob Stein said. And clearly the evangelical and the religious vote is very, very important.

The AFA said Perry had come up with the idea for the event back in December, way before he had said he was considering a bid for the White House.

This is not a political event, said Eric Bearse, a spokesman for the AFA. This is about gathering people together men and women of faith to simply pray for the country.

Read or Share this story: