Despite the growing interest in his running for president, Texas Gov. Rick Perry told pastors today that his prayer rally in Houston next month will not be a political event.
Perry spoke to pastors from around the country in a conference call regarding The Response, a daylong prayer and fasting event planned for Aug. 6 at Reliant Stadium.
"I know there are people, critics, that say this is just some political event," Perry said. "Well it's not that. This event is not about supporting some organization...It's going to be very simple...It's just a time to call out to god and that's it and lift Jesus’ name up on high."
Event organizers on the call stressed that the event is designed to be entirely religious. They said attendees will be encouraged not to wear political shirts or bring political signs to the event.
"This is not an issue of who's going to be our president...It absolutely has nothing to do with that at all. it's about making Jesus king...," said Jim Garlow, a California Pastor.
Organizers also made clear that they hope the event’s impact will reach far beyond Texas. Louis Cataldo, one of the program coordinators, said the proceedings will be simulcast on "the Internet and satellite television." Groups large and small are expected to gather to watch the event at hundreds of remote locations, he said.
"We think the stadium will capture the imagination of the nation," Cataldo said.
Cataldo said one of the goals of the event is to embolden government officials across the country to make similar calls for prayer in their communities.
Garlow said Perry’s involvement in the event is key to its historic nature.
"We have not seen historically a governor call other governors to a national prayer before that I'm aware of," Garlow said. "Even if only 1 or 2 other governors respond, at least this governor had the courage to ask other governors to respond. That's critical."
Perry conceded some assume there are "other motivations" behind the event. Perry is widely expected to announce whether he’s running for president soon after the event.
"I can't control that," Perry said. "We can't control that. We're just going to pray. We're just going to get on our knees and pray right there in Reliant Stadium."