South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will attend, promote and headline a large evangelical prayer rally in North Charleston on Saturday, drawing criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union for mixing church and state. The event, called "The Response: A Call to Prayer for Our Nation," is being held for six hours at the North Charleston Coliseum. Organizers hope to draw up to 10,000 people, according to the Post and Courier of Charleston.
The ACLU of South Carolina filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a description of the taxpayer dollars and resources used for the rally after Haley appeared in a promotional video for the event and sent out an "open invitation" on government letterhead. "The public has a right to know whether any public funds are being expended and how much it costs for our governor to participate in this prayer event," said Susan Dunn, legal director for the ACLU of South Carolina.
The prayer rally suggests Christian dogma is a solution to the nation's "issues." The event's website says "America's issues are not primarily financial, political or moral. Neither does America's hope lie in one leader or institution. Our hope is found in the One who desires for us to turn to Him with our hearts. This is our response -- to call on Jesus on behalf of America, that he might hear our cry and heal our land."
College of Charleston religious studies professor Louise M. Doire told the Post and Courier that Haley's participation in the rally was questionable when "that one voice, one heart and one desire are projected onto all Americans, especially those who are not Christian."
The event is sponsored by the American Renewal Project, an organization based in California that promotes evangelicals having a greater impact in politics.