Earlier today Houston-based U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller threw out a lawsuit seeking to prevent Governor Rick Perry from participating in a prayer rally he helped organize. The group that brought the suit reacted with disappointment.
"The judge did not say that what Governor Perry is doing is Constitutional," said Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the non-profit organization of atheists and agnostics that brought the First Amendment suit.
Prior to the hearing, the governor defended The Response, described by its organizers as an apolitical Christian prayer meeting, saying "my prayer is that the courts will find that the First Amendment is still applicable to the governor."
According to Barker, the judge's ruling did not touch on the merits of the case--whether or not the Governor's endorsement of a Christian prayer rally is constitutional. Rather, it shut the door based on a flawed understanding of who is "injured" by the governor's endorsement of The Response and therefore may bring a suit.
"Of course, we think that if we got into court we would prevail on the merits," said Baker.
The Response is scheduled for August 6 at Reliant Stadium in Houston. It is being co-hosted by Governor Perry and the American Family Association, an advocacy organization that promotes conservative Christian values.
Baker says his organization will most likely appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.