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NY Times: Judge dismisses atheist suit vs. Texas governor’s prayer rally

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Gov. Rick Perry of Texas by atheists opposing his participation in a prayer rally next weekend.

The lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, asked the judge to declare Mr. Perry’s involvement in the event unconstitutional, reports the New York Times’ Manny Fernandez:

In a separate motion filed earlier this week, the group’s lawyers sought immediately to stop Mr. Perry, who is contemplating a presidential bid, from either taking part in the rally or promoting it in his official capacity as governor, arguing that doing so violates the First Amendment’s requirement of separation of church and state.

Judge Gray H. Miller, of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the plaintiffs — the foundation and five of its Houston-area members — had suffered no concrete injury and that the governor’s invitations for Texans to join him in a day of prayer were “requests, not commands.” People offended by the governor’s prayer rally can either not attend, not pray or express their disapproval using their First Amendment rights, the judge said. He dismissed the lawsuit and the motion to stop the governor’s official participation.

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