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Thu July 28, 2011
Prayer Event Poses Risk For Perry, Rising In The Polls
By Shelley Kofler, KERA News
Dallas, TX – As Governor Rick Perry moves closer to deciding on a Presidential campaign, his popularity has shot up in a national political poll.
When the Gallop organization asked likely republican voters last week who they supported for President only Mitt Romney had more support for the GOP presidential nomination. Some 17% backed Romney, while 15% chose Perry.
KERA's Shelley Kofler reports that Perry's star is rising as he plans for a prayer event that carries risk.
In just a little over a week, Governor Perry will host a day of prayer and fasting in Houston's Reliant Stadium, which can seat more than 71,000.
Perry's image dominates the front page of the event website, theresponseusa.com. His videotaped messages says our nation is in crisis and needs God's help.
Perry videotape: With the economy in trouble, communities in crisis and people adrift in a sea of moral relativism, we need God's help.
The August 6 prayer event has drawn sharp criticism because of anti-gay and anti-Catholic statements made by some of the participants.
One group claims Hitler recruited gays because they would use brutality. A San Antonio pastor has called the Catholic Church the Whore of Babylon.
Perry has compared the statements to political endorsements and says he doesn't always agree with the beliefs of those who support him.
In Houston Wednesday the Governor sought to downplay his involvement in The Response.
Perry: I'm going to be there. I may be ushering for all I know. I haven't gotten my marching orders. And I don't get confused. This isn't about me. This is truly about coming together as a state and lifting up this nation up in prayer and having a day of prayer and fasting that's all it is.
Perry also said he's counting on the courts to rule against an organization of atheists. The Freedom of Religion Foundation has filed a lawsuit claiming Perry has violated the constitutional ban on the government establishing a religion.
Perry: The first amendment is still applicable to governors. What we've done in the Governor's office is appropriate and no different from what George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or President Obama have done from the standpoint of a national day of prayer.
One difference with this day of prayer is that it is only includes. Christians.
SMU political analyst Cal Jillson says as a likely candidate for President Perry is flirting with danger.
Jillson: The governor has associated himself with some fairly out-there fundamentalist Christians. When the microphones are there they could easily say something that would be offensive to a lot of people and damaging to the Governor.
Jillson says Perry's original event plans have also fallen a little flat. Perry has invited the 49 other governors but only Governor Sam Brownback from Kansas has RSVP's.