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Is Government Backed Prayer Our New Answer To Problems?

Is Government Backed Prayer Our New Answer To Problems?

 

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is looking for a little divine intervention — and she’s willing to use the power of the governorship to get it.  In the midst of a record heat wave and drought, she’s sanctioning a statewide day of prayer, asking for God to let the waters fall.

It’s yet another example of political figures using their elected offices to legitimize and sanctify religious activities, hoping that a direct line to a deity’s ear might fix problems the elected official believes is simply beyond his or her control. Just recently, a Pennsylvania mayor held a three day prayer fest meant to help the city look for guidance on how to better cooperate and solve their problems.  And of course Texas Governor Rick Perry will throw a prayer session for pretty much anything — from rain to possible conversions.   Florida Governor Rick Scott said he was praying for rain last month, although he didn’t launch an actual public event in order harness the power of prayer.

But does advocating prayer as an answer, and requesting public support, violate the ideas of the separation of church and state?  It may become a bigger question as more and more leaders are turning to prayer as a first line of defense in the face of trying times.

And, although it may be happening with much more frequency, rain-prayer, even pushed by the state government, isn’t entirely a new thing.  In 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia brought 100 people to the capital to “…very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm,” as he put it.

I guess when state governments are looking at such dire budgetary shortfalls, prayer is much more fiscally responsible than seeding clouds.

Related Stories:

Pastors Encourage Harrisburg Mayor’s Public Prayer and Fasting

Texas Governor’s Prayer Summit Intended to Convert Non-Christians

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photo credit: Sakurai Midori

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211 comments

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12:00PM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

This is a clear violation of the separation between church and state (a principal that has been understood by our nation since its founding). The government, nor any of its officials acting in their official capacity, can no more officially endorse religion or belief in a god or gods, than they can officially promote the idea there are no gods.

10:33PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

Separation of church and state,remember the wisdom of the founding fathers!Pseudo religious bigotry is an apology for grevious injustice and trampling of human rights all over the US and many parts of the world.No one has the right to tell others what to believe about God and or Spirit.Here in Canada little children were abused by Priests and teachers in the name of a Christian God.Most of the land we stand on was stolen from aboriginal people in the name of this same God/Bible these hypocrites purpound to invoke.

5:26PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

If the pollies are christian then it is natural that they should pray and ask other christians to also pray along with them for rain , peace whatever. so what is the big deal? it is not hurting anyone and it will very likely help many when the prayers are answered by God.

12:32PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

According to the constitution, our government is not to be in the business of making laws about religion. It does not abridge anyone's right to engage in it, whether individually or corporately, and it does not specify that elected officials cannot engage in religious activities in the course of duty. The phrase "separation of church and state" is a johnny-come-lately, not part of the original laws of the land.

10:28AM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

Government backed religion is THE problem...one of the biggest in the modern world.

Freedom from religion is the only way humanity can truly be free.

Praying does nothing but console the individual doing the praying...it's the equivalent of modern day 'slacktivism'...supplication is no substitute for direct action as that is the only thing that actually gets things done.

6:22PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Getting past the human bitterness we see spilled out here -- prayer's only futile if it's left untried. It's also a good exercise in humility for political persons, an acknowledgment that their class doesn't have the ultimate answers... and an indictment for anyone believing that humanity's essential problems can be solved by gestural fiat from high office.

The separation of church and state is not the separation of the office-holder from his or her conscience and beliefs, it's the separation of powers that command the lives of individual persons. The gate between church and state may be traversed freely by individuals. Why would this be a problem? It's not putting anything down anyone's throat. It might offend a few people, but we can't all walk on eggshells just because they get testy...

8:46AM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

One more time......1-2-3-GO.....SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!!
In America we have freedom of religion. The government's only responsibility is to protect freedom of religion not promote religious beliefs. Some people of faith think that freedom of religion means they can use the government to cram their version of religion down the throats of others. The government should represent all of us, not just some of us, without the constraints of endless religious viewpoints. Government should protect freedom and not enact laws based on religious beliefs. If your opposed to abortion, don't have one. If your opposed to same sex marriage, then marry the opposite sex. If your opposed to gambling, then don't gamble. If you don't like your neighbor, then mind your own business. If your a Tea Party Republican, please don't vote. And finally, if your NOT a Tea Party Republican make sure you vote in 2012 and help save democracy!!!

5:52PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

I am not part of any organized religion, but I do know that the 'un-seen world' has intellience that can be communiated with and it is responsive, especialy to weather.It does not require worship or prayer. What ever this is, I think it uses human phormones which are generated by emotional states. Imagine what large groups of angry, judgmental, self rightous people create in their own areas.Doesn't take religion to generate conflict and hatedred, just good people making bad judgements.Then God or Nature get the blame.Seperating church and State is laughable in this context. Holding PEOPLE accountable for their desire to control and punish might be a better idea.But of course, then you'd have to acknowlege that you've externalized your power onto a God figure, rather than internalize the ability to govern yourself.Nature intelligence knows ballance, but that doesn't mean we humans are necessary to create it, just that Nature will work with us to make a place to live.At least. that's my present understanding.

7:20AM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

What these yokels do not understand is that God is speaking to them -- the droughts, floods, and tornados in the red states ARE God's punishment for their greed, homophobia, attacks on women, and total disregard for the poor and vulnerable.

11:11PM PDT on Jul 22, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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