I agree with the wisdom of almost every thing that Ebert says in this article; but, he's missing a piece of the First Amendment and is confused about another piece.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” U.S. Constitution.
“There are not two sides to the separation of Church and State. There is only this: They must be separated for the health of our democracy.” Roger Ebert.
“Separation of Church and State” is a legal construct that is intended to ensure that government doesn’t get into the religious favoritism and anti-religion business. In the meantime, people, under the “freedom” clause get to say and do pretty much what they like, including advocating an establishment of religion or trying to convince people that they have the one true religion and other contenders should be stomped.
Governor Perry, the other headliners and the 30,000 people that showed up at the “Response” rally on Saturday are a perfect example of how the First Amendment works. They, not a government, organized it. They assembled, spoke and prayed to their hearts content. They may have petitioned the government. The “press” rallied round them or against them, including Mr. Ebert. No laws were passed. No government did anything, just people.
The “Response” rally and how everyone reacted to it, is exactly how things in this country should go. Are they right as to what they want? If their God can help, great, though I don’t think our country’s political disputes are high on the celestial to do list.