- (Photo: American Atheists)
American Atheists, one of the country's biggest secular groups, put up a new billboard in Texas Monday morning slamming Texas Gov. Rick Perry for saying that prayer can solve America's gun violence.
"His solution to school shootings? Prayer," the billboard reads. The secular organization's ad refers to comments the former GOP presidential candidate made back in January responding to President Barack Obama's push for stricter gun control.
"As a free people, let us choose what kind of people we will be. Laws, the only redoubt of secularism, will not suffice. Let us all return to our places of worship and pray for help. Above all, let us pray for our children," Perry said then.
America suffered a particularly violent year in terms of mass shootings in 2012 – on Dec. 14, a 20-year-old shooter massacred 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., including 20 children. The incident rocked the nation and left many Americans wondering what, if anything, can be done to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Conservatives and liberals have clashed over what the proper solution would be, with gun advocates warning that any restrictions on firearms would be an infringement of the 2nd Amendment.
American Atheists were especially critical of Governor Perry's suggestion to focus on prayer rather than new gun legislation.
"Rick Perry's statement is out of touch with reality," American Atheists President Dave Silverman said, according to Raw Story. "Prayer does not solve problems, rather it masks them. Asking Americans to pray to solve the violence problem is an admission of administrative impotence. Playing the God card is not a valid substitute for real action."
Next to the Perry billboard is an ad featuring former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee, which reads "Amend the Constitution to (what I say are) God's Standards."
The ad refers to Huckabee's 2008 GOP presidential campaign comments:
"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."
Earlier in March, AA had to apologize for misquoting former Alaska governor Sarah Palin in another billboard in Texas. The quote attributed to Palin read:
"We should create law based on the God of the Bible," with a sign to "Go Godless Instead," beneath her photo.
What Palin really said, however, was that America's founding fathers "would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments" (emphasis not Palin's) as opposed to "should."
Gov. Perry has not yet responded to the ad.