South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is promoting and participating in a June 13th Christian prayer rally called “The Response: a call to prayer for our nation.” She regrettably is following in the footsteps of former Texas Governor Perry who back in 2011 was a keynote speaker at similar event bearing the same name and attended by 30,000. Governor Haley’s involvement in this event is not only deeply insensitive to many of her constituents, but violates the spirit if not the letter of the Constitution.
According to The Response web-site,
America is now in such a state of crisis . . . and the root is not to be found in political agendas, economic doldrums, crime rates, or terrorist threats, as many believe. Our country is in crisis because we are a people who are no longer honoring God in our prosperity or humbly calling on Him in our predicaments. The Response is committed to activating a return to prayer by those with contrite hearts, to provide witness that the Church is taking a stand for righteousness and asking God for His mercy on the land we love.
It further states that although “… everyone is welcome to come and join us in prayer, the focus of the prayer will be unashamedly Christian. The only name that will be lifted up will be the name of Jesus Christ.” ADL supports every American’s right to pray and follow the religious beliefs of his or her choosing, including Governor Haley’s. But the founding fathers knew that the best way to protect these fundamental rights is to make sure that our elected officials and representative government would not impose one religion over another or any religion at all. Governor Haley was elected to lead a religiously diverse constituency. But her official participation in The Response and encouragement of others to attend this event are deeply divisive. It conveys a distinct message to non-Christians that they are outsiders. Such official actions that divide Americans along religious lines are not a productive way to address our nation’s problems. The genius of the First Amendment is that religion in all its diversity has thrived in America because government is required to keep its distance from it. Governor Haley would be wise to follow this essential principle by reconsidering her participation in The Response. As a 501(c )(3) non-profit organization, the Anti-Defamation League does not support or oppose candidates for political office.