Daily Archives: November 13, 2007

Praying For Rain Violates Separation of Church and State


For all the words of comfort and appeasement I have received from the Secularists that they are not interested in stopping anyone’s right to pray – comes this lovely little college-boy opinon about the wrongness of praying for rain in severely drought-stricken Georgia.

Of course – to these wise “intellectuals” – rain is not the province of God – but men – who should come up with solutions like rationing or building a dam instead of wasting time praying for rain.

Of course I’m sure the Climate Change zealots will soon be out of their gates to urge their Global Warming Evangelists to preach to the duped ‘superstitious’ lot of God fearing people.

They are as scripture defines them however: fools.

Prayer distracts us from finding real world solutions

In the darkest hour of despair, when all hope seemed lost, the communal leader called together his counsel of the faithful and uttered ritual sayings. Sounds like something out of the eighth century, doesn’t it? Just this past week, however, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, facing a massive and seemingly unrelenting drought, declared that “The only solution is rain, and the only place we get that from is from a higher power.” He then sent out responses to leaders of several faiths to take part in a prayer service.

The potential establishment clause violations inherent in state sponsored prayer are disturbing. Whenever Government appears to endorse religion over nonreligion, we should be weary However, what is even more disturbing is the high level of fatalism and determinism involved in the very act of submission to a higher power.

It is important to emphasize the falsity of Perdue’s statements. Indeed, there is much the state can do rather than merely wait for rain and pray. In terms of trying to induce rain, there is a procedure called cloud seeding, which involves injecting clouds with dry ice or silver iodide. While the efficaciousness of this procedure is scientifically uncertain, it is often practiced in dry regions in the United States.

There are several other steps the governor could have taken, should currently take or should take in the future. Early on, Perdue had an opportunity to restrict water flow to help preserve a limited supply; conservation must be emphasized in communities throughout Georgia-Perdue could perhaps use the same religious leaders he summoned for prayer to spread the message of conservation from the community pulpit. The city of Atlanta needs to begin developing new water reservoirs and fixing its abysmal water infrastructure. In the long run, better water emergency contingencies must be developed to facilitate water-sharing among Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

There are always solutions to human dilemmas, but they take ingenuity and a willingness not to assume the worst. If Franklin Delano Roosevelt had spent his time praying for salvation as Herbert Hoover had done instead of coming up with vital recovery programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and National Recovery, our nation would never have been able to recover from the Great Depression. Traditionally one of our nation’s strongest assests has been its ability to bounce back from economic or social shocks with incredible resilience and ingenuity. When we look up to the sky in ineffective prayer, we lose sight of the actions we should really be taking.

Prayer is known to create false confidence and hope that can be deadly. Recent clinical studies showed that ill individuals who knew they were being publicly prayed for were less likely to recover efficiently and more likely to suffer serious complications. While praying for precipitation is utterly useless-a traditional Indian rain dance would be just as effective-the pressure prayer can put on our public individuals can yield fewer productive and desirable outcomes.

Additionally, our public policy must be rooted in a scientific outlook that allows for good policy to be proven successful and failing policy to be discarded. Recourse to prayer, however, can never be disproven and has no role in our political process. Simply put, if the outcome we wish for materializes then we attribute the success to divine intervention and successful prayer. If it fails to occur, then the higher power has chosen to withhold his benevolent blessings and perhaps a bit more prayer would have swayed him. With either outcome, the value of prayer is never effectively challenged.

What prayer can lead to if taken to extremes is quite frightening. After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, religious leaders such as Pat Robertson and Hal Lindsey said that the horrific affects were due not to emergency management response failure or an administration unwilling to heed years of warnings about weak levees, but instead saw the disaster as proof that God had suspended his protection over America. Instead of advocating action to minimize future disasters, a reliance on prayer has us effectively blame the victim: “If only they had been a little more pious or dedicated in their prayers, maybe things would have been different.”

Whether or not we believe in a god, human beings have a very real ability to impact the world. Those who believe can continue to pray, but must ensure that it does not limit their ability to see the options avalible to them.

Because of our actions, the global climate is spiraling out of control and mankind is perhaps closer than ever to the brink of nuclear annihilation. Kneeling on the ground, giving up and praying for salvation as Perdue did in Georgia is utterly dangerous and fatalistic. There are always practical solutions to our problems that we can develop to make the world a better place if we are not stuck waiting for divine intervention.

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