The Freedom From Religion Foundation excoriates Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s show of governmental piety in calling on the citizens of Utah to “pray for rain.”
“We need more rain and we need it now,” Cox has remarked. “We need some divine intervention. That’s why I’m asking Utahns of all faiths to join me in a weekend of prayer June 4 through the 6th.”
Mark Twain once quipped: “It is best to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain,” advice Cox failed to heed — since Utah’s weekend is predicted to be hot and dry.
In a letter to Cox on behalf of its hundreds of nonreligious Utah members, FFRF, a state/church watchdog, notes that whether to pray, and whether to believe in a god who answers prayer, is an intensely personal decision protected under our First Amendment as a matter of conscience.
“This is inaction by another name, and an insult to Utahns who deserve a civil and secular government that relies on science, evidence and reason rather than on magical thinking and supernatural favors,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
The prayers will not increase the small chance of rain, but Cox’s show of piety scores some cheap political points while giving the illusion of doing something to address the crisis. It improperly inserts religion into state governance, placing the state’s stamp of approval on a religious practice, in disregard of the constitutionally mandated separation between state and church.
Instead of calling for “thoughts and prayers,” Cox should focus on combating climate change and water shortages by investing in science and reason. Faith that the environment and rainfall are controlled by a supernatural deity who listens to our pleas is one of the stumbling blocks that prevents our country from addressing challenges underlying environmental disasters, such as global climate change, FFRF asserts.
Cox is not the first governor to turn to wishful thinking when facing a drought. In 2007, Georgia’s then-Gov. Sonny Perdue infamously led a prayer meeting to beseech God for rain. Needless to say, that prayer was ineffective. Still, this embarrassing spectacle did not stop the U.S. Senate from confirming Perdue as President Trump’s Secretary of Agriculture. Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s three-day “Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas” was followed by a horrific drought.
FFRF notes: “Nothing fails like prayer. Wishful thinking cannot suspend natural law, much less cause precipitation. Utahns do not need prayers, they need real solutions.” Cox should pray on his own time and dime.