Cruel Prayer in the Senate

by Jesse Galef –

Just when I think things can’t get crazier at the intersection of church and state, Senator Colburn decides to prove me wrong. This started out as a heartless political ploy and turned into something far worse. In the razor-thin supermajority in favor of the healthcare reform bill, every vote counts. When it comes to the vote of a 92 year-old senator, some understanding is warranted, but not given (via Ezra Klein):

Another example came last night, when the ailing Robert Byrd was wheeled in at 1 a.m. to break a filibuster on the manager’s amendment. Byrd’s presence was not required, especially considering that he’d clearly telegraphed his intention to vote to break the filibuster. But Republicans forced him to travel to the chamber. Indeed, shortly before he arrived, Sen. Tom Coburn headed to the floor to propose a prayer. “What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote tonight,” he said. “That’s what they ought to pray.”

Just like Jesus taught you to pray, right? Turn the other cheek, then pray that your political opponents drop dead! Video of the remarks and Senator Durbin (D-IL)’s response can be found here.

I met Senator Byrd a couple years ago. He was frail then, he’s frailer now. There is legitimate concern over his health. Fortunately, Byrd made the vote, but Senator Inhofe (R-OK) didn’t.

On CSPAN, someone called in and wondered what went wrong (via Think Progress):

CALLER: Yeah doctor. Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn’s instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn’t show up at the vote the other night.

How hard did you pray because I see one of our members was missing this morning. Did it backfire on us? One of our members died? How hard did you pray senator? Did you pray hard enough?

Instead of denouncing the very idea of praying for the death of a colleague, Sen. Barrasso merely said that Sen. Inhofe was traveling and couldn’t make the vote. How charming.

Obviously I don’t believe prayer will have an effect, but it says a lot about the people praying. It’s indicative of the sad state we’re in that I can’t tell whether the caller was sarcastic or not – those could have been tears or laughter making him choke up. But I’m astounded – and disgusted – that neither Barrasso nor the moderator commented on it.

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