AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage has taken up a call by fellow Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas to proclaim Aug. 6 a “Day of Prayer and Fasting for Our Nation.”

LePage issued the proclamation on June 6, mirroring the language of Perry’s, which was also issued on June 6.

A LePage spokesman said the governor signed the proclamation “as a courtesy in response to a request that came in from the governor of Texas.”

The proclamation quotes Ben Franklin and former Presidents John Adams, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who all led the nation in prayer at various times.

“Given the trials that have beset our country and world … it seems imperative that the people of our nation should once again join together for a solemn day of prayer and fasting on behalf of our troubled nation,” reads the proclamation.

The global economic downturn, natural disasters, terrorism, wars and “the decline of our culture in the context of the demise of families” are cited as troubles facing the country.

Perry, who plans to host a day of prayer and fasting in Houston on Aug. 6, has stirred controversy and at least one lawsuit questioning his separation of church and state, based on the use of a state website for promotion.

The purpose of the event, according to the website, theresponseusa.com, is to combat the country’s struggles.

“We believe that America is in a state of crisis,” it reads. “Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles.”

In Maine, more than a dozen House Republicans have signed on to a statement of support for the event and LePage’s proclamation.

“There are a lot of issues that this country is facing that we haven’t faced in years, and I think it would behoove us to go to a sovereign god to have support and assistance and guidance as we progress ahead,” said Rep. David C. Burns, R-Whiting, who has signed the statement of support.

Burns said he doesn’t see the call to prayer as conflicting with the separation of church and state.

“This isn’t picking a particular religion … (it’s) looking for divine guidance, and most people in this country believe in divine guidance,” he said.

The event – called The Response – is labeled non-denominational and apolitical but is sponsored by the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based conservative evangelical group.

According to its website, the event has adopted the American Family Association’s statement of faith.

The association was listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group in 2010 because it promoted “known falsehoods” and “demonizing propaganda,” according to news reports.

Since 1952, Congress has designated a National Day of Prayer, observed on the first Thursday in May.

 

MaineToday Media State House Writer Rebekah Metzler can be contacted at 620-7016 or at: [email protected]