The organizers of a Houston prayer rally featuring Gov. Rick Perry are now using the event's registration list to influence the 2012 elections.
Twelve days ago, Gov. Rick Perry helped promote and spoke at at The Response, a prayer and fasting event at Reliant Stadium advertised as "apolitical" that elevated Perry's national profile days before he kicked off his campaign for president.
Today, Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, the group that hosted the rally at Perry's request, sent out an email to those that had registered for the event promoting Champion the Vote, an initiative "to mobilize 5 million unregistered conservative Christians to register and vote according to the Biblical worldview in 2012."
Champion the Vote is an initiative of United in Purpose, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization based in San Martin, CA, that describes itself as promoting the "traditional values of our founding fathers." On Champion the Vote's website, the organization expresses hope that its registration drive will ensure that "Christians will decide the 2012 elections."
No candidates are endorsed in either the email or on Champion the Vote's website.
Organizers estimated that nearly 30,000 people attended the rally and thousands more watched it on television or online. Critics charged that Perry's involvement violated the separation of church and state and took issue with anti-gay and anti-Muslim views of leaders with the American Family Association.
In the weeks leading up to the rally, Perry and the event's organizers insisted there was no political aspect to the rally.
"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," Perry said on a July conference call to pastors.
On the same call, Jim Garlow, a California pastor involved in the event, went a step further.
"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...," Garlow said.