Texas Gov. Rick Perry today held The Response prayer rally, an event he organized with the the American Family Association, a group with a history of intolerance toward gays and lesbians, Muslims, Native Americans and progressives.
Along with Gov. Perry and Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, the event drew speakers from the extreme right, including James Dobson and John Hagee, whose statements about Catholics and Jews led John McCain to reject his endorsement in 2008.
People For the American Way's Right Wing Watch exposed the extreme views of the American Family Association and many other participants in The Response in the weeks leading up to the rally. Right Wing Watch's research can be found here.
"Gov. Perry and Gov. Brownback, as Americans, are free to worship however they like with whoever they like," said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. "But it is troubling that both are willing to partner with, and lend credibility to, people like John Hagee and the American Family Association at such a high-profile event.
"The AFA has claimed that gays and lesbians are responsible for the Holocaust, that Native Americans deserved to be driven out of their lands, and that Muslims have no First Amendment rights. John Hagee has called the Catholic Church the 'great whore' and claimed that God sent Hitler to kill the Jews. It's absolutely stunning that a man who is considering running for president of the United States is not only appearing with these extremist figures, but giving them a national stage on which to promote their views.
"If Gov. Perry wishes to bring Americans together, lifting up voices of intolerance and division is not the way to do it."
Yesterday, People For the American Way's African American Ministers in Action, a nationwide network of African American clergy, also urged Perry to denounce the divisive rhetoric of the AFA .