Nothing fails like prayer in the Gulf of Mexico

Statement by Annie Laurie Gaylor
Freedom From Religion Foundation Co-President

Well, it’s been two days since Louisiana lawmakers’ pompous day of prayer to stop the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, and nearly a week since our President directed Americans to pray over it. New York Times columnist Gail Collins pointed out there were no less than “17 references to God, prayer, blessings or faith” in President Obama’s address.

And yet the oil keeps gushing. Nothing fails like prayer, as Anne Nicol Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation President Emerita, has long pointed out.

Senate Resolution No. 145, which declared Sunday, June 20, 2010 as a “Statewide Day of Prayer for Louisiana,” was introduced by Senator Robert Adley and adopted by Louisiana state senators. The resolution made the usual human-as-worms allusion, saying “a Statewide Day of Prayer provides each of us with a powerful opportunity to humble ourselves before our Almighty God.”

And it makes the usual unconstitutional exhortation to citizens: “The citizens of Louisiana are urged to pray for a solution to this crisis . . . a crisis that remains unaffected by the efforts of mortal man.”

The usual primitive and superstitious invocations are offered that “prayers woven together through common effort can themselves become an awesome and powerful force . . . [advocating] a day of unified, intercessory prayer, by and for those people living in the regions around the Gulf of Mexico, to pray for an end to this environmental emergency.” (Isn’t it blasphemous for these senators to propose that a united humanity is actually more powerful than the god they believe in, that by sheer wishful thinking such “humble” humans can force their god to stop the gusher over which he previously has chosen not to intervene?)

Most absurdly, the resolution urges “the citizenry of the state and all people of faith throughout the United States and the world to give personal thanks . . . for God’s continued guidance.” (Don’t these senators sense a contradiction in their concept of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good god? Note that President Obama, in his speech, does not offer the expectation that God will intervene, but simply calls it a “blessing that He is with us.”)

Instead of pointless prayer, how about adopting the attitude of Bill Nye, the Science Guy? When asked about the oil disaster at the recent American Humanist Association convention where he was named Humanist of the Year, Nye proposed that we turn this crisis into “an opportunity.” In this case, an opportunity to prevent future such catastrophes. Nye noted, chillingly, that there are hundreds of similar deep-sea oil drilling operations on ocean floors. Nye pointed out that “it’s easier to go to the surface of the moon than the surface of the ocean floor.”

Even President Obama acknowledged in his address last week, “Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology.” Yet the U.S. Administration is expected to resume issuing new permits for deep-sea oil drilling after the six-month moratorium expires. If the technology does not exist or cannot be relied upon to stop deep-sea oil leaks, what are we doing drilling for oil on the ocean floors in the first place? This ghastly and unending disaster was utterly predictable, even inevitable, and it should alarm us all that similar disasters are equally predictable and inevitable.

Prayer is what politicians fall back on when they don’t want to offer true leadership. Are we prepared to learn anything from this environmental disaster? Or are we just going to pray about it? 

Take Action Now!

Write Louisiana Senators

Please notify Louisiana senate leadership of your disappointment and dismay at their “solution” to the gulf oil crisis.

Talking Points (Feel free to copy and paste)
Tell the senators:
Stick to the business of government; our Constitution demands you stay out of the religion business. Clearly your “day of prayer” was a waste of time and energy, and the only result was to embarrass those senators who signed on to it, and to disappoint the people of Louisiana. Leave aside the fairy tales and focus on preventing this from ever happening again.

Senator Joel T. Chaisson, II
Senate President
P.O. Box 94183
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Phone: (225) 342-2040
[email protected]

Senator Robert Adley (Primary sponsor of the resolution)
P.O. Box 94183
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Phone: (225) 342-2040
[email protected]

Optional: Write Timely Letter to the Editor

You may also wish to make this the subject of a timely letter to the editor. Send a brief letter to your local paper, or see below for major Louisiana newspapers. Remember to keep letters to the editor brief (usually under 150 words), and sign your name, address and phone (for verification).

Baton Rouge Advocate
Letter to the Editor
7290 Bluebonnet Blvd.
Baton Rouge LA 70810

New Orleans Times-Picayune
3800 Howard Avenue
New Orleans LA 70125
[email protected]

Shreveport Times
222 Lake St.
Shreveport LA 71101
[email protected]
(The Subject Should Read: Letter to the Editor Submission)

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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