Gov. Rick Perry & The Response: The Merits, Precedents & Arguments Against- Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols

Gov. Rick Perry and The Response: The Merits, Precedents and Arguments Against

Gov. Rick Perry & The Response: The Merits, Precedents & Arguments Against

Gov. Rick Perry initiated a day of prayer and fasting called The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis. It will take place this Saturday at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

We here at Shades of Grace have long advocated prayer for our nation – and special days when we assemble together in prayer and fasting for America. We support Gov. Perry and his courage to call for such a day this Saturday.

Consider just a few of the crises in the headlines:

  • record tornadoes
  • damaging floods
  • devastating drought
  • fires burning out of control
  • financial crisis
  • terrorism

America’s young people stand to inherit a nation that is bankrupt financially, socially and morally. The problems we face are beyond our ability to solve. We must call upon God in fasting and prayer.

Separation of Church and State?

Although no taxpayer dollars are being spent at this event, many still assert the event is a violation of the separation of church and state.

Gov. Perry’s Involvement Is Not a Departure from History

Throughout history – going all the way back to the first president of the United States – there have been presidents and governors who called the nation to pray.

(You can read the original proclamations from a few such leaders in America’s Founders and Presidents: Proclamations for Public Fasting and Prayer.)

Since 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through America’s  history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.

In modern history, when President Truman announced the surrender of the German Army, he called for a day of prayer. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer.

About The Wall of Separation

Jefferson penned the phrase “wall of separation between church and state” to reassure the Danbury (CT) Baptist Association that because of separation of church and state, the government would never interfere with their public religious expressions. For 150 years, federal courts followed Jefferson’s intent and attached his separation metaphor to the Free Expression Clause of the First Amendment, thus consistently upholding public religious expressions. However, in 1947, the Supreme Court reversed itself and began applying the phrase to the Establishment Clause instead, thus causing federal courts to remove rather than preserve public religious expressions.

The proof is abundant that this was not Jefferson’s intent. For example, two days after Jefferson wrote his separation letter, he attended worship services in the U. S. Capitol where he heard the Rev. John Leland preach a sermon. (As President of the Senate, Jefferson had personally approved the use of the Capitol Building for Sunday worship services.) The many diaries of Members of Congress during that time confirm that during Jefferson’s eight years, he faithfully attended church services in the Capitol. In fact, he even ordered the Marine Band to play the worship services there. Jefferson also authorized weekly worship services at the War Department and the Treasury Building.

And on December 23, 1803, Jefferson’s administration negotiated – and the Senate ratified – a treaty with the Kaskaskia Indians that stated “the United States will give annually for seven years one hundred dollars for the support of a priest” to minister to the Indians (i.e., federal funds for Christian evangelism!) Jefferson also signed presidential documents, closing them with the appellation, “In the Year of our Lord Christ.” There are many similar surprising facts about Jefferson that are fully documented historically, but that have been ignored for the past 50 years.

Throughout his public career and two terms as President, Jefferson pursued policies opposite that of the wall the modern Supreme Court has erected and attributed to him. Courts and pundits would have us believe that Jefferson routinely pursued policies that violated his own “wall of separation.”

In The Mythical “Wall of Separation,” Daniel Dreisbach writes:

Jefferson’s wall, as a matter of federalism, was erected between the national and state governments on matters pertaining to religion and not, more generally, between the church and all civil government. In other words, Jefferson placed the federal government on one side of his wall and state governments and churches on the other. The wall’s primary function was to delineate the constitutional jurisdictions of the national and state governments, respectively, on religious concerns, such as setting aside days in the public calendar for prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving…

President Jefferson had been under Federalist attack for refusing to issue executive proclamations setting aside days for national fasting and thanksgiving, and he said he wanted to explain his policy on this delicate matter. He told Attorney General Levi Lincoln that his response to the Danbury Baptists “furnishes an occasion too, which I have long wished to find, of saying why I do not proclaim fastings & thanksgivings, as my predecessors [Presidents Washington and Adams] did.” The President was eager to address this topic because his Federalist foes had demanded religious proclamations and then smeared him as an enemy of religion when he declined to issue them.

Jefferson’s refusal, as President, to set aside days in the public calendar for religious observances contrasted with his actions in Virginia where, in the late 1770s, he framed “A Bill for Appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving” and, as governor in 1779, designated a day for “publick and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.”

How can Jefferson’s public record on religious proclamations in Virginia be reconciled with the stance he took as President of the United States? The answer, I believe, is found in the principle of federalism. Jefferson firmly believed that the First Amendment, with its metaphoric “wall of separation,” prohibited religious establishments by the federal government only. Addressing the same topic of religious proclamations, Jefferson elsewhere relied on the Tenth Amendment, arguing that because “no power to prescribe any religious exercise…has been delegated to the General [i.e., federal] Government[,] it must then rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority.” He sounded the same theme in his Second Inaugural Address, delivered in March 1805:

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the constitution independent of the powers of the general [i.e., federal] government. I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them, as the constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

These two statements were, in essence, Jefferson’s own commentary on the Danbury letter, insofar as they grappled with identical issues. Thus, as a matter of federalism, he thought it inappropriate for the nation’s chief executive to proclaim days for religious observance; however, he acknowledged the authority of state officials to issue religious proclamations.

Jefferson’s “wall” was erected between the federal and state governments on matters pertaining to religion.

If Jefferson’s letter is to be used today, we should be well informed as to its context.

In “The Separation of Church and State,” David Barton writes:

Earlier Courts had always viewed Jefferson’s Danbury letter for just what it was: a personal, private letter to a specific group. There is probably no other instance in America’s history where words spoken by a single individual in a private letter – words clearly divorced from their context – have become the sole authorization for a national policy. Finally, Jefferson’s Danbury letter should never be invoked as a stand-alone document. A proper analysis of Jefferson’s views must include his numerous other statements on the First Amendment.

For example, in addition to his other statements previously noted, Jefferson also declared that the “power to prescribe any religious exercise. . . . must rest with the States” (emphasis added). Nevertheless, the federal courts ignore this succinct declaration and choose rather to misuse his separation phrase to strike down scores of State laws which encourage or facilitate public religious expressions. Such rulings against State laws are a direct violation of the words and intent of the very one from whom the courts claim to derive their policy.

One further note should be made about the now infamous “separation” dogma. The Congressional Records from June 7 to September 25, 1789, record the months of discussions and debates of the ninety Founding Fathers who framed the First Amendment. Significantly, not only was Thomas Jefferson not one of those ninety who framed the First Amendment, but also, during those debates not one of those ninety Framers ever mentioned the phrase “separation of church and state.” It seems logical that if this had been the intent for the First Amendment – as is so frequently asserted-then at least one of those ninety who framed the Amendment would have mentioned that phrase; none did.


The Anti-Defamation League has asserted that the event is not open to people of all faiths. However, everyone is invited. No one has been excluded.

The American Family Association is serving as host, therefore many have labeled the event and those involved as “intolerant.”

Over 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. The United States has a strong heritage in the Christian faith. Prayer is in the mainstream of America. Recognizing the Judeo-Christian faith of this country is in line with our heritage.

The intolerance seems to be on the part of those who want to prevent Christians from gathering together to pray.


Atheists have been up in arms over the event and Gov. Perry’s involvement. (A judge dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation that sought to stop Gov. Perry’s involvement.)

I don’t understand the alarm from their perspective.  If they don’t believe in God, or our prayers to Him, why are they so afraid of us praying?

I believe they are afraid because they fear God will hear our prayers and respond!

Your Involvement

Wherever you are this Saturday, I encourage you to participate in this day of fasting and prayer.

If you can travel to Houston, that’s great! (Click here for event info.) However, if you are unable to travel, the event will be broadcast on The Response website. Or if you live in Texas, perhaps you could attend via simulcast as many churches across Texas will be showing the simulcast.

I strongly encourage you to read Why The Response? This page presents the basis for the event — a strong societal, Biblical and historical case for The Response.  Examples of historical precedent are also provided on this page. Highly recommended reading!

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Additional Resources


Separation of Church & State: What the Founders Meant

The separation of church and state: Where did this phrase originate? Was it always meant to prohibit expressions of religious faith in public settings as many claim today? Discover the answers to these questions and the Founding Fathers own words and intents.

Author: David Barton


Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion

An essential resource for anyone interested in our nation’s religious heritage and the Founders’ intended role for the American judicial system. Original Intent combines hundreds of quotes from primary sources with the author’s exposition on hot topics such as revisionism, judicial activism, and separation of church and state. A substantial appendix encompasses full texts of the founding documents, biographical sketches of numerous Founders, and extensive reference notes.

Author: David Barton

Shaping History Through Prayer And Fasting

The times we are living in are scary, to say the least. The world is unstable. Global politics are volatile.  We’re uncertain about what will happen tomorrow, and we feel helpless to do anything about it.Yet what we are facing isn’t new.  History is spotted with similar crises.  And what did people do about them? The only thing they could do—they prayed! Discover with Derek Prince how your prayers can change the world.







Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Shades of Grace will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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