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What the Constitution Says About Rick Perry's Public Faith

Texas Governor Rick Perry and his prayer rally friends invited everyone to an event in Houston.

by Bob Kerstetter

Texas Governor Rick Perry and his prayer rally friends invited everyone to an event in Houston to seek the presence of God during troubling times. The US Constitution clearly allows this, saying “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The US Constitution very clearly prohibits the government from legislating any religion as mandatory. It also prevents the government from silencing religion—private or public. That is the whole voice of the US Constitution as it relates to religion and government. From a constitutional point of view, in the US, all people can fearlessly practice their faith or no faith. The US Constitution supports religious pluralism.

This protection from government imposed religion and government suppression of religion applies to all people—private citizens and elected politicians. Politicians, including Texas Governor Rick Perry, are permitted to practice their religion—or no religion—privately or publicly—with the same freedoms as other individuals.

While the Houston rally invited everyone, because the Texas governor and his prayer rally friends are Christian the Houston event naturally had a Christian feel, as compared to, for example, the faith of Shinto.

When in Japan we clap and bow as a sign of respect before entering a Shinto shrine. While this does not make us Shintoists—Shinto means “the way of the Gods”—neither does it make us particularly at home in a Shinto shrine. But that is okay. We still stand with our friends in Japan during their time of need. Likewise, it is okay for the Houston event to be Christian in tone. It is okay for non-Christians to accept this—not tolerate it, but accept it—feel a little uncomfortable and attend.

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