A Rally To Respond to Governor Perry’s “Response”
A modest crowd rallied at the State Capitol in protest of “The Response” prayer and fasting event in Houston initiated by Governor Rick Perry. The Travis County Democratic Party hosted the gathering Saturday afternoon in Austin.
“Thank you for being here and for not being there,” State Representative Elliot Naishtat (D-TX) told the crowd.
Naishtat scolded Governor Perry for partnering with the Mississippi-based American Family Association which is hosting the event. The group has been in the spotlight for its controversial views on issues such as gay rights. Many people at the event said the organizations involved gave the impression that the prayer event was aimed at a narrow audience.
“Governor Perry would do well to focus on the ideals that unite not divide Americans,” Rep. Naishtat said.
J.C. Nichols, an Austin resident that attended the rally, said he disapproved of Governor Perry’s role in organizing a religious event as a government leader.
“Jesus very clearly said that you can go off and pray and you don’t have to have others watch you or pray loudly to get others attention,” Nichols said.
Nichols, like the majority of the crowd, were not happy with Mr. Perry’s potential run for the GOP presidential nomination. Rally-goers held signs criticizing the recent budget cuts to education and Medicaid that were made during the 82nd State Legislative session this summer. One sign read “Billions in corporate tax breaks paid for by school kids.”
The speaker line up rolled out Democratic state politicians Rep. Mike Villarreal (San Antonio), Rep. Dawnna Dukes (Austin) and others including U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett and a few community spiritual leaders.
Rev. Jim Rigby from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church fired up the crowd. He described “The Response” event a type of Christianity that is exclusionary and out-of-step with the needs of the poor and weak.
“We are becoming first in almost every misery index you can find,” he said. “That’s the wrong direction.”
In all, the couple of hundred protesters appeared more interested in protesting the Governor’s policy decisions than the Houston event.