Secular Group to Protest Ga. Governor's Prayer Rally for Rain

ATLANTA (AP) _ A secular group says it will protest Governor
Perdue's upcoming 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.

Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethought Society said last night, ``The problem is not that they are praying for rain, it's they are doing it in our name. We didn't elect that guy as a preacher. He has no right to make a religious statement on behalf of Georgians.''

The society seeks to educate the public about the separation of
church and state.

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.

Perdue, a Baptist, has enjoyed strong support from Georgia's
Christian conservatives.

The Southeast has been suffering from an intense drought in
recent months that has threatened supplies of drinking water.
Georgia has been locked in a battle with Alabama and Florida over
how much water should be sent downstream from the state's dwindling

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