Scarborough: Perry Prayer Rally Stopped the Drought

Rick Scarborough, the man behind the “40 days to save America” — he puts on events like this every few years; it keeps the money flowing in — participated in a conference call with Rick Perry and claimed that the prayer rally Perry hosted in Houston last August brought miraculous rain to the state and ended the year-long drought.

Let me just say this, a lot of folk were aware that Texas had the worst drought in our history two years ago into last year, Governor Rick Perry called a statewide season of prayer and fasting and more than 30,000 people showed up personally at Reliant Stadium in downtown Houston where our football team plays. He led that complete day in prayer and fasting for God to break the drought, a lot of people criticized him in the press. But what a few people failed to take note of is a drought everyone said would take Texans years to get over, we began getting rain, it actually rained a bit that very day, but a few months later it began to rain, we had seasons where we had record rainfalls for a period of time and even now we are having rain. I attribute the breaking of that drought and the renewal of our resources as a state to the godly leadership of a governor who was not ashamed to humble himself before the world and become a part of leading our state in prayer…

A lot of folk criticized the calling of that prayer event and they missed the understanding that God didn’t answer the breaking of the drought that day but within six months our lakes were back up to normal, our farmers were harvesting hay, cattle crops were saved, the fires across the state subsided. I am privileged to live in a state that is covered by a governor like Governor Rick Perry…

I had mentioned while you were waiting for you to get on the call about the impact of our Response at Reliant Stadium and how the press was willing to mock the calling of the prayer and fasting but had failed to document that what everyone thought would take years to replenish our lakes and streams almost happened in three months. It began raining, this year our farmers had a record year of harvesting their hay and I take all of that back to a courageous call of a governor of a state to the people to pray and fast, and the fact that you led in that day which I was certainly in the audience and participating in.

This isn’t true, of course. 80% of Texas is still experiencing drought conditions that range from severe to extreme to exceptional (the highest level measured). Here’s the current drought map for Texas. Most of the high plains states are still in exceptional drought conditions. Do people in those states not pray? Or does God only listen if you get groups of 30,000 or more in a stadium to pray?

In fact, Perry first ordered three days of prayer and fasting for rain from April 22-24 of last year. At that time, 17% of the state was under “exceptional drought” conditions, 53% in extreme drought and 24% was in severe drought. A month later, 44% was in exceptional drought, 35% extreme and 13% severe. by August 2, just before the big stadium prayer rally, 73% of the state was in exceptional drought, 18% extreme and 7% severe. One month after the prayer rally, 88% of the state was in exceptional drought, 9% extreme and 2% severe. On October 4, the results were identical. It wasn’t until mid-October, more than two months later, that the drought began to recede.

Of course, none of this matters. Droughts don’t last forever and it was inevitable that the conditions would improve to some degree. And even if it was a year later, the wingnuts would still claim that there was a direct causal relationship between their big money-making rallies and the inevitable weather cycles.

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  • They oughtta pray for a war amputee to regrow a limb. God’s pretty frigging impotent about that.

  • In other words, drought not eternal – therefore GOD.

  • See I thought the response to the prayer rally was a fucking huge ass fire

  • wholething

    When it finally started to rain several weeks later, they had to start praying against the flash floods.

  • Wait…..

    Didn’t they pray for rain right before the outbreak of wildfires?

  • One more false causation phrase for the day: “Regression to the mean.”

    I imagine fellow skeptics recognize the similarity of this case to alternative medicine: If you’ve got a chronic condition, you’re likely going to have days that are better or worse. If you take a quack treatment during the worst parts, you might fool yourself into thinking the treatment works when your condition is just naturally moving to one of the better phases.

    I’m not a climatologist or meteorologist, but I’d expect it to rain once in a while during prolonged drought conditions. If the average rainfall is still low, it’s still considered a drought, right?

  • Francisco Bacopa

    The drought here has ended only in the southeastern part of the state. We have had normal rainfall since the say Hitchens, Dawkins, and PZ came to Houston all at the same time last October.

    Hitchens never left town. Clearly, The Hitch died to appease the rain gods. Makes as much sense as saying the prayer rally helped.

  • Michael Heath

    Rick Scarborough asserts:

    . . . within six months our lakes were back up to normal […]

    . . . our farmers had a record year of harvesting their hay . . .

    Are either of these true?

  • sailor1031

    So is Perry responsible for the floods in January 2012? Can he be sued?

    @5: I believe you are right. Bad wild fires. If part of Perry’s praying involved a deity sending TS Lee it’s more liability for Perry, since Lee didn’t rain much on Texas but did provide high winds that fanned numerous wildfires, such as the Bastrop fire. Given the known and documented poor aim of deities when loosing storms, Perry should have known fire would be a likely consequence of his interference with the weather. He should be sued – it’s the american way!

  • Larry

    So, after the rally, god was just toying with them for 6 more months, pretending to turn on the taps but always withholding at the last minute. Or, is the heaven internet service so slow, it takes 6 months to load the prayer request page?

  • laurentweppe

    Wait a minute: I’ve seen people boasting that prayer stopped a drought after seasonal rains came in. But boasting that he stopped the drought before the drought ever stopped?

    What’s next? The US president climbing on a carrier and announcing that he won a war a decade before the war’s actual end?

  • busterggi

    It wasn’t Jesus’ fault it took so long for it to rain – the windows of heaven that the rain falls through were swollen shut and he needed to get a union carpenter to repair them so they could be opened.

  • This is one of the easiest predictions I’ve ever nailed. I knew whether another drop of rain didn’t fall in the entire state for 50 days or 50 years, they would credit their Prayerapalooza for it when it did.

  • @Michael Heath

    Oh my no.

    within six months our lakes were back up to normal

    Turns out that most of the Texas lake levels are actually quite under their normal volume. Some drastically so.

    our farmers had a record year of harvesting their hay

    Well, according Bloomberg it was a record. The drought conditions resulted in the smallest hay harvest in a century.

  • Didaktylos

    I need new specs – I read that as “prayer and farting” first time round …

  • HumanisticJones, there you go again with your facts.* Don’t you know that the Teapublicans have moved us into the era of fact-free politics? Facts are so outdated; it’s all about what you feel in your gut. Oh, and what Jesus whispers in your ear when no one else is around.

    • “Facts are stupid things.” — Ronald Reagan

  • timberwoof

    “Or does God only listen if you get groups of 30,000 or more in a stadium to pray?”

    In Texas, it has to be a football stadium.

  • Hugo

    Bronze Dog is correct. Regression to the mean indeed. Completely unfalsifiable, too. The Texas Freethought Convention took place in September (?) last year. I live in Houston and attended The Response at Reliant Stadium (not in downtown Houston, as he says), and do not remember any rain that day—it was quite sunny actually. I do remember, however, that it did rain during the Freethought convention.

    So, 30,000 people gather in a Stadium to pray with the likes of Rick Perry, Ray Comfort and John Hagee, and nothing happens for weeks. But a few hundred atheists get together with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, PZ Myers, Matt Dillahunty and AronRa (in downtown Houston, ironically), and it rains instantaneously.

    Nah…God. It must have been God.

  • Michael Heath

    fifthdentist writes:

    HumanisticJones, there you go again with your facts.* Don’t you know that the Teapublicans have moved us into the era of fact-free politics? Facts are so outdated; it’s all about what you feel in your gut. Oh, and what Jesus whispers in your ear when no one else is around.

    * “Facts are stupid things.” — Ronald Reagan

    Once again when it comes to Ronald Reagan, we observe a liberal acting out equivalent to how creationists act out when referring to evolution. The odds of such observations in this forum for any thread with a reference to Ronald Reagan seems to me to be well over 50%. In this case we observe a quote-mine of an inadvertent gaffe contra to the message Mr. Reagan was conveying. Here is Ronald Reagan’s quote in context; in this case President Reagan’s speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention:

    Before we came to Washington, Americans had just suffered the two worst back-to-back years of inflation in 60 years. Those are the facts, and as John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.” Interest rates had jumped to over 21 percent, the highest in 120 years, more than doubling the average monthly mortgage payments for working families — our families. When they sat around the kitchen table, it was not to plan summer vacations, it was to plan economic survival. Facts are stubborn things.

    Industrial production was down, and productivity was down for 2 consecutive years. The average weekly — you missed me. [The President referred to a background noise.] [Laughter] The average weekly wage plunged 9 percent. The median family income fell 51/2 percent. Facts are stubborn things.

    Our friends on the other side had actually passed the single highest tax bill in the 200-year history of the United States. Auto loans, because of their policies, went up to 17 percent, so our great factories began shutting down. Fuel costs jumped through the atmosphere, more than doubling. Then people waited in gas lines as well as unemployment lines. Facts are stupid things — stubborn things, I should say. [Laughter]

    And then there was the misery index. That was an election year gimmick they designed for the 1976 campaign. They added the unemployment and inflation rates. And it came to 13.4 percent in 1976, and they declared that our candidate, Jerry Ford, had no right to seek re-election with that kind of misery index. But 4 years later, in the 1980 campaign, they didn’t mention the misery index. Do you suppose it was because it was no longer 13.4 percent? In those 4 years it had become almost 21 percent. And last month, in Atlanta at their convention, there was again no mention of the misery index. Why? Because right now it’s less than 9.2 percent. Facts are stubborn things.

    When we met in Detroit in that summer of 1980, it was a summer of discontent for America around the world. Our national defense had been so weakened, the Soviet Union had begun to engage in reckless aggression, including the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. The U.S. response to that was to forbid our athletes to participate in the 1980 Olympics and to try to pull the rug out from under our farmers with a grain and soybean embargo. And in those years, on any given day, we had military aircraft that couldn’t fly for lack of spare parts and ships that couldn’t leave port for the same reason or for lack of a crew. Our Embassy in Pakistan was burned to the ground, and the one in Iran was stormed and occupied with all Americans taken as hostages. The world began to question the constancy and resolve of the United States. Our leaders answered not that there was something wrong with our government but that our people were at fault because of some malaise. Well, facts are stubborn things.

    [emphasis mine – MH]

  • iangould

    So if Rick Perry CAN end a drought but initially chose not, surely people who suffered damages from the drought can sue for damages on the basis of a breach of the duty of care?

  • rogue74656

    Since Perry is taking credit for causing the rain, does that mean he can be prosecuted for murder for those who died in the resulting flooding?

  • gratch

    Ahh the beauty of the unfalsifiable belief. Flip a coin. If it comes up heads: proof God wanted me to win. If it doesn’t: proof God hates tails.