The FRC’s Bizarre Prayer Barrage

As you probably know, I don’t believe in the efficacy of prayer. There’s neither empirical evidence nor logical argument to support the proposition that a supernatural being is listening to our requests and can be persuaded to grant them if asked politely enough. Still, when believers pray for the healing of the sick or the welfare of the needy, there’s at least a benevolent intention that I can respect.

Then there’s the Family Research Council.

This religious-right group regularly issues prayer requests to its followers, but they’re not on behalf of the poor or the sick. They’re straight-up requests for God to support the FRC’s political agenda, including requests for God to block or repeal legislation that the FRC disagrees with. Here are some of the more amusing ones.

The FRC really doesn’t like Obamacare – I mean, they really, really don’t like it. And they’re confident that God feels the same way. But just in case God isn’t aware of all the reasons why Obamacare should be repealed (socialism! rationing! Benghazi!), the FRC is helping out with a list of Fox News talking points that the almighty creator of heaven and earth may not have heard already:

May Americans dazzled by the false promise of lower cost or free healthcare realize that they have bought into a lie that will result in increased, taxpayer-funded abortion, but also substandard healthcare, greater cost, reduced innovation, diminished care for the elderly, fewer doctors to serve more people, longer waits for care and very soon, rationing, etc. (1 Sam 8:7-20; Mt 7:15-20; 16:26; 23:27; Jn 7:24; 2 Th 2:10b-11). (source)

The FRC is particularly exercised about the minimum coverage requirements which include contraception, and they’re asking God to make the Supreme Court see things their way in the ongoing Hobby Lobby suit:

Move Oh Lord, upon each member of the Supreme Court. May they rule this mandate an unconstitutional infringement of religious liberty and conscience against these Christian businesses and their owners (Is 5:20; 10:1; Lk 18:1-8; 1 Tim 1:5; 3:9; 2 Tim 1:3; Tit 1:5; Heb 10:22). (source)

Here’s a little free advice, guys: asking God to influence “each member” of the Supreme Court is unnecessary. You’ve already got four justices in your pocket. Don’t spread your prayer resources too thin! Just ask God to concentrate all his magic mind-control powers on Anthony Kennedy.

The FRC also doesn’t hold with all the reefer cigarettes that the young people are smoking these days. Therefore, they’re praying that God will cause Americans to reject the legalization of marijuana:

Two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized marijuana. Many more have either legalized the drug for medical use, decriminalized recreational use, or both… May the American people come to their senses to reject this trend and reverse it! (Pr 31:4; Is 5:11, 22-24; 29:8-10; Eph 5:18; 2 Tim 1:7)

If you’re curious, one of the Bible verses they’re citing there is Proverbs 31:4, which says: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” Since we don’t have kings or princes in America, it’s pretty hard to see how this bears on the debate over recreational cannabis in Colorado and Washington. But what makes this even more hilarious is that the FRC apparently didn’t read all the way down the page, because if this chapter is about pot, how do we interpret this passage just two verses later?

“Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” —Proverbs 31:6-7

You’ll also note that one other biblical verse the FRC doesn’t cite is Genesis 1:29.

Next, the FRC asks God to guarantee adequate staffing levels at the State Department. (By doing what, causing a disembodied hand to appear and add a line into the budget containing an appropriation?)

May God correct an administration that has failed to defend religious liberty. May the State Department agency tasked to be the religious liberty watchdog be staffed, activated, and empowered to do its job. (source)

The FRC asks God to make a federal court rule in favor of a religious monument on public land, but just in case that doesn’t work out, they hedge their bets by also asking God to decree an appellate court review:

May the Dec. 12th U.S. District Court order to remove the Cross at the Veterans Memorial in San Diego, under legal assault for 24 years, be reversed on appeal. If not, may the case be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. (source)

The FRC asks God to intervene in international diplomacy by preventing the U.N. Security Council from weakening sanctions on Iran in exchange for oversight of their nuclear program:

May God, His people, and or elected representatives act to rebuild our faith and commitment to Israel and to stop this irrational appeasement of Iran. (source)

I hope the FRC doesn’t mind me saying so, but it seems like they’re thinking small here. Praying to God to make the Security Council toughen its sanctions? You believe you’ve got an omnipotent being on your side and that’s the harshest penalty you can conceive of? Why don’t they just ask God to turn Iran’s rivers into blood until it agrees to shut down its reactors?

The FRC asks God to intervene in a Senate battle over parliamentary tactics:

Pray that conservatives in the House and Senate will not succumb to a godless compromise and that the Senate will not try the “nuclear option” (change senate rules to require just 51 not 60 votes to end a filibuster and force a vote). (source)

I also recommend reading that link for a detailed explanation of why Herbert Hoover was one of the greatest U.S. presidents, especially by comparison to that godless commie who succeeded him, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

But this last story raises an important question: what happens when a prayer request fails? That last request was made on October 10, 2013. But it seems that God wasn’t in a prayer-granting mood that month, because the Senate did indeed change the rules to forbid filibusters for presidential nominees. In a story published November 21 of that year, the FRC was furious:

Like most liberals, Sen. Reid is still seething that Republicans shot down three radical nominees to the D.C. Circuit Court using one of the only tools at the minority’s disposal: the filibuster.

Today, Democrats used a parliamentary trick to change the Senate rules and strip the minority of the little power they had. In doing so, they blew up a 225-year-old process and cleared the way for a simple majority to rubber stamp the President’s outrageous nominees. Instead of requiring 60 votes to end debate on a nomination, liberals lowered the threshold to 51 — virtually guaranteeing the majority party a blank check to confirm anyone they want, regardless of how extreme or unqualified.

Outrageous! Despicable! Un-American! The FRC has always opposed such shocking power grabs – or at least they have since 2005, when President George W. Bush was the one appointing judges. Here’s from a position paper still available on their website:

Q – Is it constitutional to require a super-majority of 60 votes in the Senate to approve a judicial nominee?
A – We believe it is not.

Given the FRC’s penchant for prayer requests based on the talking points of the day, you’d think they’d be worried that God would get exasperated with them for their contradictory desires (not to mention the shameless way they presume to dictate a political agenda through prayer). Then again, they could just be following his lead – given the number of times God changes his mind, it’s hard to fault his followers for being similarly inconsistent.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, City of Light, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • arensb

    You believe you’ve got an omnipotent being on your side and that’s
    the harshest penalty you can conceive of? Why don’t they just ask God
    to turn Iran’s rivers into blood until it agrees to shut down its

    Reminds me of an old Tom Toles cartoon in which someone (Pat Robertson, mabye?) is praying, telling God that he’s considering a run for president, and says, “If you want me to run, send me a sign, like a large donation to my campaign fund… No, wait. A subtle sign will suffice. A falling leaf, an untied shoelace, that sort of thing. I’m very good at interpreting, Lord.”

  • Fractal Heretic

    The more time they spend praying, the less time they’ll spend doing actual damage. Pray on, I say, and don’t mind our dust as we build a better society.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    You’d think that Obamacare would fit the Christians’ mission just fine. Isn’t helping the sick what Jesus would do? Problem is, Christianity doesn’t thrive where there aren’t problems. Anxiety about medical issues will suit the Christians just fine.

    You believe you’ve got an omnipotent being on your side and that’s the harshest penalty you can conceive of?

    I’m frequently amazed when the atheist in the conversation must remind the Christian of what “omnipotent” means.

  • EmpiricalPierce

    This touches on a point I like to bring up in debates. According to the Bible, God used to perform giant, obvious, amazing miracles like they were going out of style: Ten back to back plagues, seas parting down the middle, roving pillars of fire, the sun stopping in the sky, mass resurrection of the long dead… But apparently God has gotten tired, and now people need to restrain their prayer requests to preventing filibuster rules from being changed?

    Either that, or these alleged amazing miracles never happened in the first place – a belief that would be consistent with the Christian stance towards miracles in other religions.

  • arensb

    According to the Bible, God used to perform giant, obvious, amazing miracles

    Also a bunch of undocumented ones, like life on Earth surviving despite all the food being buried under ocean water for a year, and there being a genetic bottleneck the likes of which has never been seen.

    Or the bit in Joshua, where God has the sun stop over one valley, and the moon stop over another valley a few miles away, to give Joshua’s army more light and time to slaughter people. No one ever pauses to think how remarkable this is, that there was no solar eclipse even though the moon must have mostly-overlapped the sun; and that the moon was apparently full despite being right next to the sun in the sky.

    But yes, apparently the best God can manage these days is to appear on a tortilla. And the faithful obviously realize this, since they tend to be very careful not to ask him to do anything too obvious or complicated.
    Christians don’t like to talk about this, presumably for the same reason that you don’t go talking about how grandpa’s best days are fifty years gone while he’s within earshot.

    Harold Camping made the mistake of committing God to a specific set of actions — ending the world — and even had the gall to give Him a deadline. For this, he was roundly ridiculed by the faith community.

  • Mr. Two

    Right, so instead of asking their god to concentrate all his magic mind-control powers on Anthony Kennedy, they should ask him to get Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonya Sotomayor to vote on their side. That would accomplish their god’s purpose and demonstrate without a doubt that prayer works.

  • Antigone10

    and very soon, rationing

    We already ration healthcare. This talking point pisses me off every time I hear it. Healthcare, as in the time of the doctors, the space in the hospital, and the drugs, is a limited resource. All limited resources are rationed. Even in capitalism (or especially in capitalism).

    It’s just right now we ration by “who has the most money” as opposed to something more ethical like “who needs it sooner?”

  • Antigone10

    I grew up in the fundie community. They like to pass around a tale that proved NASA discovered that the stopping the sun in the valley thing really happened.

  • L.Long

    Nice thing about prayer is that if you are really paying attention then you can see why they need the law on their side, their worthless impotent gawd can barely get his image on a piece of toast much less make someone do something. Gawd sure as fallen a long way down the power pole. So you religious types just keep on praying and I will continue to be really really worried about it….;-}

  • cipher

    Yes, but the Jesus they worship is a capitalist – plus, most of them are Calvinists these days. Giving you money is God’s way of telling you you aren’t going to hell.

  • cipher

    They’re operating at the developmental level of children, at the stage at which magical thinking is in evidence – Piaget’s Preoperational stage, which occurs between the ages of two and seven. Of course, there is no way in which this can be explained to them; they are the least introspective people on the planet.

  • TBP100

    Even back when I was a believer, intercessory prayer puzzled me (I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’m not a believer anymore). Wouldn’t an omniscient being already know what you needed or wanted better than you yourself? Wouldn’t an omniscient, omnipotent being do whatever the best thing was, regardless of what people asked for? Wouldn’t he know what he was going to do or not do already, so that trying to change his mind was pointless? Etc., etc., etc.

    Where I park at work there’s frequently a certain car with a bumper sticker that says “Pray to end abortion.” Supposedly God hates abortion. He has the power to end it any time he likes, being all-powerful, but apparently won’t until a certain critical mass of people beg him to do so. What’s the magic number? How was it determined? And, of course, if abortion is so wrong and he hates it so much why doesn’t he do anything about it with having to be asked, including all the pregnancies that abort naturally (over half, hugely more than are aborted medically)?

  • BT

    1) I am a Christian.

    2) This is well done.

    3) That is all.

  • Adam Lee

    “Dear Lord, the gods have been good to me and I am thankful. For the first time in my life, everything is absolutely perfect just the way it is. So here’s the deal: you freeze everything as it is, and I won’t ask for anything more. If that is okay, please give me absolutely no sign.”

  • Adam Lee

    You’d think the fundies would welcome long ER lines and expensive, hard-to-obtain medical care. It would give them an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of faith healing.

  • Azkyroth

    Still, when believers pray for the healing of the sick or the welfare of the needy, there’s at least a benevolent intention that I can respect.

    Given the extent to which the idea that praying for these people helps them feeds both sincere beliefs and rationalizations to the effect that it’s not necessary to do anything else, I can’t agree.

  • TBP100

    To be fair, most of the people I know who pray thusly also give money and time to activities which actually help people.

  • Doomedd

    There is something very strange if you know a little about astronomy. If there was a long day, there isn’t a way to prove it by using astronomy. If god had played the motions of the planets or just the spin of Earth, it would be undetectable (or would rip the whole solar system if god was sloppy with the physics)

    Beside, I am pretty sure the Chinese, the Greeks or… the whole ancient world would have noticed few not so subtle anomalies in the sky.

  • Mark Koenig

    Adam, I’m not a big ‘prayer guy’ either, but it isn’t for you or me to critique – much less ridicule – how or what people pray for. That’s between them & their God. Why not just leave them alone?