Secular Group to Protest Georgia Governor's Drought Prayer Service

A secular group said Friday it would protest Gov. Sonny Perdue's planned prayer service intended to ask for relief from the Southeastern drought, saying the rally violates the principle of separation of church and state.

Perdue's office announced Wednesday that it had sent out invitations to leaders from several faiths for the service, set for Tuesday outside the state Capitol.

"The problem is not that they are praying for rain, it's they are doing it in our name," said Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethought Society, which seeks to educate the public about the separation of church and state. "We didn't elect that guy as a preacher. He has no right to make a religious statement on behalf of Georgians."

A Baptist, Perdue has several times mentioned the need for prayer — along with water conservation — as the state's drought crisis has worsened. Over the summer, he participated in day of prayer for agriculture at a gathering of the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon, Ga.

The Southeast has been suffering from an intense drought in recent months that has threatened supplies of drinking water.