The New York Times reports that a federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed against Gov. Rick Perry of Texas by a national group of atheists seeking to block his participation in and promotion of a Christian-centered prayer rally next weekend.

Judge Gray H. Miller, of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that the plaintiffs — the foundation and five of its Houston-area members — had suffered no concrete injury and that the governor’s invitations for Texans to join him in a day of prayer were “requests, not commands.” People offended by the governor’s prayer rally can either not attend, not pray or express their disapproval using their First Amendment rights, the judge said. He dismissed the lawsuit and the motion to stop the governor’s official participation.

What a load of hooey and poor judicial reasoning that undermines the wall separating church and state. The damage clearly occurs to all people who are made to feel as outsiders by the head of state government. It is absolute nonsense when the judge says that no one is commanded to go. Citizens doing business with the governor are clearly forced to attend the prayer event in precisely the same way employees are coerced into attending company picnics or the boss’ annual Christmas Party. Sure, you can technically say no, but at what cost?

That the judge doesn’t understand the concept of soft religious coercion shows that he is woefully out of touch with the way things work in the real world. We applaud the courageous group behind the lawsuit, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and hope they appeal the shortsighted ruling.