The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns President Trump’s worthless plea for the nation to pray together in response to the coronavirus scourge.
President Trump called on the country to “pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our nation” on Sunday, March 15. This appeal for supernatural assistance is useless, at best. Worse, it gives a veneer of governmental legitimacy and support to those churches that have urged believers to trust in prayer alone to prevent the spread of the virus.
Although the Trump administration has taken (belated) real-world steps to address this crisis, the president’s call for prayer echoes the rightfully mocked “thoughts and prayers” that are reflexively offered in response to gun violence. As the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Director of Strategic Response Andrew L. Seidel wrote recently, we believe — we know — that science is the answer to the coronavirus, not religion. Thoughts and prayers won’t stop a virus any more than they will a bullet.
While Trump and many others wisely decided against attending an in-person church service the past Sunday, some churches are telling their congregants, against the advice of public health officials, to take the promise of supernatural protection more literally by continuing to gather in large groups for church services. These dangerously reckless churches should not be able to point to a presidential proclamation for support.
Trump could have issued a more socially useful call by specifically telling people to skip church. The Freedom From Religion Foundation hopes that those who slept in on Sunday decide to make a habit of it.