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Interfaith Alliance of Iowa criticizes Terry Branstad over ‘Response’

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa officials are disappointed in a lack of response from Gov. Terry Branstad concerning a desired discussion with state faith leaders concerning Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s day of prayer for the nation, which Branstad was invited to.

Called “The Response,” the Texas event is day of prayer for the nation, which Perry has characterized as being in a crisis that can be assuaged by the power of prayer.

“Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response,” Perry wrote on the event’s website. “Therefore, on August 6, thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.”

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/connie_ryan_terrell_125.jpgConnie Ryan Terrell

Connie Ryan Terrell, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance, called “The Response” inappropriate because Perry is using his public office to promote a religious event, and desired to speak to Branstad in hopes he would denounce Perry’s day of prayer.

However, the persistent request to meet was ignored, Ryan Terrell said. She started contacting the Governor’s Office to schedule “just a 30-minute meeting with Gov. Branstad” in early June.

“We were put off for several weeks with no definitive answer,” she said, adding a potential meeting date has recently been offered to her organization discuss The Response with Branstad — after it happens.

Ryan Terrell said she could not remember the exact number of times she and faith leaders reached out to Branstad requesting a meeting, but said it was “numerous times.”

The Interfaith Alliance takes the stance that a public official should not use their office to promote an event of any religious background. The Response is a Christian-centric day of prayer.

“We wanted to discuss with Gov. Branstad to make sure he understands (The Response) is disrespectful and inappropriate,” she said. “I don’t want to be in the business of reading the Governor’s thoughts. It’s for him to say what he thinks, but he had the opportunity to speak with faith leaders, and my concern is that the request has not been taken seriously.”

The Governor’s Office said they did not outright resist the opportunity to speak to the Interfaith Alliance.

“With the education summit (starting Monday) and education town halls, July’s schedule has been incredibly packed,” Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said. “We have indicated to them that the governor will meet with them and have it scheduled for next month.”

When asked if Branstad’s and Reynold’s declining to go to Texas was the only comment needed on the subject, Albrecht simply replied, “Yes.”

Ryan Terrell said Friday she has not decided if she will take the Governor’s offer to meet after The Response is over.

“Obviously, I wanted to meet with him before (Aug. 6), but it is still an important conversation to have at any point,” she said.

Perry invited all 49 governors to participate in the day of prayer in Texas and make proclamations for similar days of prayer in their own states. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds declined to do either. Reynolds said a scheduling conflict prevents the two from traveling to Texas.

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