Republican Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina recently promoted a Christian prayer rally, The Response: South Carolina, on June 13.
Haley appears in a video (below) inviting "everyone of all ages, of all ethnic backgrounds" to come to South Carolina to "pray that we get strengthened, to pray that we remember we're not in charge and to pray for peace."
Haley claims the event has nothing to do with government or politics, but directs viewers to The Response: South Carolina website, which states: "As a nation, we must come together to call upon Jesus to guide us through the unprecedented struggles we face today, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we have so richly enjoyed."
Haley's office also sent out an invite letter to pastors. One of those pastors, Neal Jones, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia in South Carolina, wrote a response Op-Ed in The State:
I had assumed that this event was for all people of faith, but then I read on “The Response” website that “this is a time for Christians to come together to call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles.” So I’m guessing that Unitarian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, pagan and Baha’i South Carolinians are not invited to the North Charleston Coliseum, to say nothing of humanists, atheists, agnostics, skeptics or free thinkers. I realize that the majority of South Carolinians do call themselves Christian, but hey, the rest of us are South Carolinians, too.
Gov. Haley certainly has the right to pray, and every citizen in this state has the right to pray, but when she lends her name and her title to the call for a day of prayer, she is officially sanctioning religion, and in this case, a particular religion at that. The principle of separation means that our government is neutral in regard to religion. It neither promotes nor opposes any religion … at least it is not supposed to.