New Police Chief Thinks Prayer Will Lower Crime Rates

Hey, everyone! Crime is gonna go down in Winnipeg! Know how I know that?

Because the chief of police has a brilliant plan to lower crime rates… and he needs your help:

Winnipeg Chief of Police Devon Clunis

“I’m a little tired of us… being ‘[the] murder capital of Canada,’” says Devon Clunis, who was appointed chief of police at the beginning of October. “People consistently say, ‘How are you going to solve that?’ It’s not simply going to be because we’re going to go out there and police it away. I truly believe that prayer will be a significant piece of that.

“What would happen if we all just truly — I’m talking about all religious stripes here — started praying for the peace of this city and then actually started putting some action behind that?” he adds. “I believe something phenomenal is going to happen in our city. I truly believe it’s coming. I don’t think I’ve arrived at this position just by chance.”

Or you could just, you know, skip the whole prayer step and start taking action right away. I’m no cop but I’m pretty sure Phase One of making any city safer isn’t “Waste a lot of time doing nothing.”

I wonder who didn’t get this job. Did the runner-up suggest we just politely ask criminals to put their guns down?

(Thanks to Dorothy for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    As the awesome folks at FFRF always say…. “Nothing fails like prayer.”

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    We should encourage this. A great way to test the efficacy of prayer.

    Of course there may be some subset of the Winnipeg criminal element that might believe an invisible dude in the sky is watching them more closely because of other people’s prayers, and therefore commit fewer crimes. So it may actually have a positive effect.

  • Mike Gillis

    Everybody clap your hands and Tinkerbell will come back to life!

  • Baal

    oh goody! magic!

    (I suspect the segment of the population doing the murdering either knows they are going to hell or that they are vastly indifferent to that prospect)

  • Dale MacDougall

    Oh great, another person stepping up to embarrass Canada. I spent a long weekend in Winnipeg in 84 visiting my then fiance (now wife). Didn’t see much of the city and I was glad for that. What I did see wasn’t too good….. 

  • Alviesf

    You would think that prayer would be enough. Doesn’t “putting some action behind that” negate the need for prayer? Where is people’s trust in god?

  • TiltedHorizon

    Sounds like they should leave their guns at home and carry crosses instead. I think I’m going make a fortune selling Cross Holsters in Winnipeg.


  • Matto the Hun

    Actually, no. The way he put it, he’s talking about prayer and then actually doing something about it. In other words, do the work, give credit to magic bullshit.

  • John C. Welch

    Prayer: When you care enough to do the very least.

  • Gooner

    I live in one of the most crime ridden cities in the US, and a city that was twice voted most dangerous. The bishops/priest whatever you want to call them already tried this here and the crime got worse, maybe they forgot to clasp their hands correctly? 

  • Nicole Introvert

    Made me think of this story of the lady who is going to pray all the crime away in New Orleans.  The video is great:  

  • Tainda

    Yep, I live in Missouri.  If the bible thumpers around here could pray away crime, people would feel much safer in St. Louis and KC haha  I’ve been to St. Louis, NO WAY has it worked lol

  • Jake

    I like how he just condones people of all religious stripes getting in on it. In trying to combat breakers of the sixth most important commandment, he couldn’t even avoid breaking the first.

  • LadyH

    To quote Jon Stewart, “Oh Canada. . .”    Seriously, how am I supposed to maintain my feelings of superiority to Americans when crap like this keeps happening?

  • Sindigo

    “It’s not simply going to be because we’re going to go out there and police it away.” 

    That is exactly the opposite of true.

    Besides, what is he going to do if all the criminals get together and try to pray the police away?

  • Patterrssonn

    Throw in a few yogic flyers and he might be on to something.

  • Mike Laing

    Sorry, buddy, we were the murder capital last year. Edmonton had the highest rate of murder. Why don’t you go to Texas and ask Rick Perry for advice? Remember how successful he was at stopping the drought?
    And another thing, this is Canada, and it’s too cold for prayer to work. God goes south this time of year like all the other snowbirds. Sheesh.

  • David23

    Sounds like he has given up and should be replaced.

  • Patterrssonn

    Right, and if you’re praying to the wrong god wouldn’t that exacerbate the problem?

  • Mike Laing

     There’s a good explanation for that. They are not true Christians, and that’s how you can tell. I should know: I’m Scottish.

  • Steven Sword

    BREAKING NEWS: Local police officer killed when his prayer jams, during a shootout.

  • Gooner

     Yep, St. Louis is the city I speak of. Hello neighbor!!

  • Troels Jakobsen

    Funny, Christians love to talk about the necessity of free will, yet they want to limit it through intercessory prayer.

    Or is it the actions and not the prayers that are supossed to solve the problems? Fine with me, but don’t tell me prayer is effective, then.

  • IndyFitz


    Too funny.  I’m picturing Clint Eastwood as a priest, holding out a crucifix:

    “I know what you’re thinking.  Was that holy water in his sprinkler, or tap water?  You have to ask yourself one question: Do you feel lucky?  Well, do ya, PUNK?”

    Which is even funnier if Father “Dirty Harry” Callahan is talking to an empty chair where there is no actual punk.

  • IndyFitz

    I’m sure it WOULD have worked, if it hadn’t been for all those gays we allow in society!  God is merely punishing us and all that jazz.

  • primenumbers

    What a right numpty!

  • IndyFitz

    Very sad irony that while they were praying, someone was shot to death a few blocks away.  And these folks will never see that what they’re doing doesn’t help. I suppose it could be argued that they might make other believers feel a tad more positive when they yell “I love you!” out the window, but I doubt that will be enough.

  • IndyFitz

    Well, obviously the criminals are bad guys praying for bad stuff, and surely the gods are all on the police’s side!

  • John

     Wires were crossed and the wrong god got his request.

  • TiltedHorizon

     LOL. It was Clint I heard while I typed my post. Stay out of my head. :)

  • IndyFitz


  • Canuck Guest

    As a hardcore atheist I have to say, if I was made to live in “Winterpeg” I may just turn to prayer! That place SUCKKKSKKKKSKKSSSS!

  • Canuck Guest

    I once had to spend a year in Winnipeg one week! (snark)

    Winnipeg or Regina, I am not sure which is worse, but either case they SUCK!!!

  • IndyFitz

    Clint is special. It’s too bad he’s gone as right-wing loony as Ted Nugentlately.

    “Go ahead… make my day! In Jesus’ name, Amen.”


  • Don Gwinn

    “Look, folks, let’s not kid ourselves.  We are not going to put out fires by running fire drills or spraying water on burning buildings.  It’s time to give God a chance.”

  • Daniel

    And of course, in a year, no matter what the crime rate does, “It would have been worse if we hadn’t prayed.”  *sigh*

  • Blacksheep

    You never watched “Pale Rider”, huh? It’s a good one.

  • Sindigo

    Absolutely. The only head of an organisation who should rely on wishes to get their job done is Santa. 

  • IndyFitz

    Oh, I forgot about that one! Yep, he was a preacher in that one. Good movie. Been a while since I’ve seen it.

  • Jeremy Moss

     You can’t be; no True Scotsman would say that.

  • Sailor

    Look at it this way, it is hard to be on your knees praying and committing crimes at the same time. So if he can get everyone praying, maybe they will have less time for criming. 

  • Richard Wade

    When your ground campaign is failing, and the enemy is overwhelming you, call in an air strike!

    Unfortunately, Central Command has been out to lunch for the last eternity.

  • matt

     Yep, there are a few places here in the city where there’s a church on every corner and a murder every night.  Always thought that was a strange correlation.

    And St Louis is supposed to be the progressive part of Missouri i think…

  • Edmond

    Oh, dang it, I’ve been doing it wrong.  I’ve been praying FOR more crime.  Now, why has God been so obliging with a request like that?

  • Jen Funk

    Oh no! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I’m so sad to see an article like this about my home town.

  • Verimius

    Dear Lord, please let my next armed robbery be successful, I really need the money. And if I have to shoot someone, let my aim be true. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  • Michaelbrice

    Oh no!

    As a Canadian I regulalry visit your site to monitor the battle between the US christian taliban and american free thinkers. I can no longer be smug and believe it can’t happen here.

    I wonder if they have some method in place to evaluate the efficacy of their ‘crime suppression by prayer programme’.*

    * Canadian spelling eh!

  • Michaelbrice

    Oh crap!

    I just did some ‘Google-ization’, his appointment was announced on October 4, he does not begin his term until December 9. 

    He hasn’t started work yet and this is his warm up? I am not looking forward to his follow up policies.

  • Adrian Warnock

    Prayer helps you care. Prayer inspires you to act. Prayer strengthens your resolve. Prayer reminds you how fortunate you are. Prayer prompts you to have radical ideas like “Street Pastors” which definitely do reduce crime.  And yes, I do believe God listens to prayer, but even if he didn’t prayer should definitely be promoted!

  • Adrian Warnock

    This is why we pray “in the name” of Jesus, in other words according to his will.  If God is good, why would he help you rob a bank?

  • Adrian Warnock

    Exactly! We had national days of prayer during the Second World War, and at the time many attributed Dunkirk to Divine intervention. 

  • Patterrssonn

    Many believed hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake were divine intervention too. Human history is replete with all kinds of idiocy.

  • Patterrssonn

    God seems to work in mysterious, bizarre and asinine ways his wonders and disasters to perform.

  • Trickster Goddess

    This God character seems to be a very reluctant deity. He has the power to stop people from being killed, but will only do it if we beg hard enough — but even then only maybe and probably not.

  • Andrés Helgi Valgarðsson

    To be fair, there is a certain upper limit where, if enough people pray enough, there won’t be anyone left with any time to commit crime.

    Taking this method further, as time spent praying approaches 100%, food supplies will dwindle, electricity and other utilities will fail and mass starvation will ensue as society crumbles.

    The last few people to starve to death won’t have to worry about crime at least.

  • HughInAz

    Unfortunately, Cthulhu is the one true god, and when he hears christian prayers, he goes a little berserk.

  • amycas

     So your argument is that prayer works, but not because of any god or supernatural affect? It seems to work about the same way that meditation does.

  • Eohippus

    He’s so qualified for the job. After all, he’s been a police chaplain. The other people running for the job must have been priests, imams & monks. No need in having some policing credentials.

  • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

    I agree.  I talk to myself all the time and find it very comforting.

  • Kelly J Youngblood

    I think the difference is that with meditation it’s more of a one-on-one kind of thing (not too familiar with how it is practiced, so I could likely be wrong) and in Christian prayer it is more of a “group effort”, if that makes sense.  Even though Christians pray as individuals, I think that because the model for Christian prayer is praying to “our Father…”, it brings people together in that way.  

  • les

    faith bloggers are against faith… wtf? 

    how is this conversation happening on a blog dedicated to faith? and why is everyone being so snarky about this? if you read the original article in CW, he says that his belief in prayer is but one tool in his repertoire. fear not, the police will never lay down their guns; they will never stop beating people in the public safety building; they will never stop killing people. if anything, police have been given even more power in the last decade (in winnipeg, but also, everywhere??). why is it so “crazy” to suggest that we start looking at the social relationships  to solve violent crime? prayer has the ability to drive positive action, is what he said. check it.  and, i am really getting tired of the comments that allude to Clunis as having some sort of mental health problem because of his faith. this article, and many others, and the comments that follow, are doing a wonderful job of discrediting faith. and sorry to repeat, but this is a blog dedicated to faith…  that clunis would put forth a belief in prayer as a positive direction toward violent crime in a climate where the only legitimate faith is in ‘tough on crime’ bills (bill c-10 for instance) that build more prisons and cut all sorts of social spending, is incredible and i think should be supported. faith in tough on crime has only led to increased incarceration rates, which disproportionately affects indigenous women btw, and has had no ‘real’ benefits to our society. if your faith is in statistics and crime bills, then please just be honest about it. try taking yourselves seriously, eh.