(CNSNews.com) - A humanist group is criticizing President Bush's call for a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance Friday for Hurricane Katrina victims, accusing him of using religion to deflect from the administration's "poor response" to the victims of the storm.
The American Humanist Association said Bush used "religion as a diversion instead of fully admitting his mistakes and focusing on responsibility and readiness" regarding the Katrina disaster.
"Mistakes were made at every level, but Bush's blunder was that of misplaced priorities, where his desire to invest in preemptive wars outweighed his concern for the safety of Americans," Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA, said in a statement.
"Now, he is using religion as a diversion instead of fully admitting his mistakes and focusing on responsibility and readiness," added Speckhardt.
Mel Lipman, president of the AHA and a constitutional lawyer, blasted Bush for "promoting prayer," saying his call for prayer and remembrance violates the First Amendment. Lipman was referring to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion."
"The U.S. does not have a national religion - our president's role is not the director of faith - a national day of prayer is inherently exclusionary and a violation of the First Amendment principle of church-state separation," said Lipman.
"Government should not be in the business of promoting prayer, and such efforts should never be used as a replacement to taking concrete steps to helping those in need," added Lipman.
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