Perry’s Prayer Protested

The Texas governor's event was sponsored by the anti-gay American Family Association

As expected, Gov. Rick Perry’s super-sized prayer event in Houston was protested on Saturday by folks who oppose the American Family Association, a group that has been militant in its opposition to LGBT rights in recent years. The Texas governor – and predicted presidential candidate – created “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” for folks to worship God in a public venue. He also endorsed the event as a way to solve the country’s problems.

During the event, the politician sounded more like an Evangelical minister. He was joined by Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association (AFA) who has actually gone on the record to say that homosexuality should be criminalized. This is 2011, folks. And these are the sorts of friends Gov. Perry rubs elbows with (and accepts donation from). The Southern Poverty Law Center says the AFA is one of the country’s leading anti-gay groups. They call it a “hate group.”

It gets worse.

One of the event’s organizers was also Jim Garlow, a pastor with San Diego’s Skyline Wesleyan Church who has hosted the Exodus International ex-gay conference “Love Won Out.” Yep, these folks believe that with enough prayer gays can turn straight. It’s a dangerous movement that’s gaining plenty of momentum in the press lately. Activists have even criticized NPR recently for reporting on ex-gays with legitimacy. Truth Wins Out called the recent report “inadequate.”

None of this stopped Perry from drawing crowds estimated to top 30,000. It also inspired LGBT-friendly churches around the country to host alternative prayer events, including the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Houston.

Gay rights group GetEQUAL also attended the event – to protest, reports the Dallas Voice. “For awhile we’ve been pretty quiet,” Daniel Cates, regional coordinator for GetEQUAL told the paper. “I think that with events like this and events like the Rainbow Lounge [raid in Fort Worth], people are waking up.” He added: “We’re not anti-prayer or anti-religion. We’re anti-the-state-getting-involved-in-religion.”

Interestingly, the Westboro Baptist Church – the people who like to show up with signs that say “God hates fags” at pride events and military funerals alike – also protested the event.

Here’s a clip of Perry speaking on Saturday: