Perry, religious leaders gather to pray for 'comfort and justice'
Interfaith service at state Capitol produces calls for a measured response09/13/200
By WAYNE SLATER / The Dallas Morning News
AUSTIN - Flanked by religious leaders of a dozen faiths, Gov. Rick Perry called upon God for "comfort and justice" Wednesday at a midday prayer service at the Capitol.
"He listens and he comforts," the governor told about 300 people gathered at the Capitol's south steps. "May God bless this America that we love."
One after another, representatives of various religious groups offered brief prayers for the victims, their families and the nation's leaders in the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attacks.
"As we struggle through this blinding cloud of rage, anger and fury," said the Rev. Davidson Loehr of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, "let us pray that we will have wisdom so that in our desire for swift justice we do not, ourselves, commit acts of injustice."
Standing next to each other were Rabbi Kerry Baker and Imam Safdar Razi Amir Ali, a representative of the Muslim community in Austin.
The Muslim cleric denounced the attacks and said the perpetrators would be punished.
"People are your brother," he said. "Even those who are Jewish."
Rabbi Baker of Congregation Kol Halev offered a prayer "for all persons who are in grief, but especially the families and friends of those who have lost their lives."
Others – including a Buddhist, a Baptist, a Catholic and a member of the Bahai faith – joined in a united expression of grief and prayer in the wake of the tragedy.
People in the crowd carried American flags. Students from a nearby Catholic school held a sign that said: "Pray for Peace." Spontaneously, the crowd broke into a chorus of "God Bless America."
"It is appropriate that we have come together in a place such as this to draw strength from one another and to join together in silent prayer," said Jim Mayfield, senior pastor at Tarrytown United Methodist Church in Austin.
Mr. Perry said Texans should guard against misplaced criticisms or attacks against any group.
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