It was already widely reported that Perry had invited all the nation’s governors and several religious leaders to the prayer event to be held at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Perry officially announced it Monday with a press release about his gubernatorial decree, though the proclamation was issued May 23.
The event already has its own slick website and invites people who register to promise to fast for one day a week leading up to the event. Registered guests can also agree to dedicate some “focused time of consecration in prayer and fasting” during the entire week leading up to the social conservative extravaganza.
Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the governor, known to be fond of Texas barbecue, would be fasting on the day of the event.
In a news release posted on his website Monday, Perry recalled moments in U.S. history when leaders called on Americans to pray (and temporarily stop eating) for the good of the nation, including former Presidents John Adams and Abraham Lincoln.
"Given the trials that have beset our country and world — from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and wars that endanger our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and theaters of conflict around the globe, and the decline of our culture in the context of the demise of families — 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," Perry wrote.
Perry is calling the event an “apolitical Christian prayer meeting.” But it's already fueling lots of political speculation about his possible run for the White House.
The nation's longest-serving governor will be giving speeches in at least four states between now and June 18.
Perry's former speechwriter, Austin-based consultant Eric Bearse, is handling the significant and growing media attention for the event. Asked if Jews, Muslims or other non-Christian worshipers would be invited to attend, Bearse noted the event was free to registered guests regardless of faith.
"It was [Perry's] inclination for the event in Houston to host a Christian prayer service. It was with malice toward none," Bearse said. "It's a Christian service."
Bearse said there would be choirs and singing involved, and the cost of the event, including rental of the giant stadium, was being picked up by the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy organization. He said the planning for the event began in December. It bears noting that Perry didn't start opening the door to a White House run until late last month.
Bearse said both prayer and self-denial of food were, combined, a "common spiritual tradition as people submit themselves to the will of God."